The Fair Play Initiative will be a Code of Ethics that all Memphis performing arts groups and institutions can adopt, much like Chicago’s successful #notinourhouse.
A Code of Ethics is not a legal document. It is a guideline to help everyone do better. A well-written document helps clarify an organization’s mission, values, and principles, linking them with standards of professional conduct within a performing arts community. It can also serve as a valuable reference, giving artists the tools to speak up if something isn’t right.
So many Memphis performing artists work on a volunteer or contract basis, and have zero support if anything goes wrong. Many artists work in a gig economy, piecing together jobs from multiple organizations during the course of a year. It is possible for one artist to receive the majority of their income from one institution but still not be considered an employee, creating an extreme imbalance of power.
In recent months, 18 nationally recognized cultural institutions in the US have gone through leadership shakeups due to abuse by those in power. In response to these injustices, artists in communities across the nation are organizing to create a seismic shift in the performing arts field. Coalitions are forming in Chicago, NYC, The Bay Area, Minneapolis, and many other creative communities. Some are organizing to address the epidemic of gender-based harassment in producing theatres, while other coalitions are forming to advocate for the inclusion of artists of color in casting and to address racism in programming choices. We look forward to joining this national conversation.