TEA Connect Blog

07 June 2020

Creating a more inclusive community

To our Global TEA Membership:

Last week, the TEA sent a release in response to the killings of black Americans George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and countless others. They are the most recent victims in a long history of persecution against the black community, indigenous peoples, people of color, and other historically oppressed populations, both in the US and around the world.

Subsequent to that release, we have witnessed the global community unite in their condemnation of these unjust actions, from the toppling of a slave trader statue in the UK, to protestors taking to the streets of Athens, to memorials and murals created in Syria, Poland, and Mexico. This unified response to the #BlackLivesMatter movement has been inspiring and gives us hope for a more just and inclusive world. 

In our release, we talked about telling stories. But as storytellers, it is incumbent upon us to include as broad, diverse and inclusive a spectrum of narratives as possible. That is why, several years ago, we launched the “Elephant in the Room” segment at the TEA Summit, where we began tackling serious subjects such as global LGBTQIA+ rights and the #MeToo movement. Last October, we centered the TEA SATE - Seattle conference around Diversity, Equity, Accessibility and Inclusion (DEAI), with sessions ranging from how to identify one’s own implicit biases, to how to create more accessible theme park experiences for visitors with visual disabilities. And we continue to celebrate excellence in all its forms and from all its sources, which is why we recently recognized the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture and the Museum of Latin American Art with Thea Awards.

This past February at its annual Strategic Planning Meeting, the TEA International Board of Directors unanimously identified DEAI as a critical issue and is in the process of launching a diversity task force.  This team will analyze TEA’s programs, messaging, and board composition and will provide recommendations to the International Board.

Another critical initiative is greater internationalization of the International Board. We need to provide leadership with a global perspective that serves the entire industry and is not merely comprised by those with name recognition or systemic privilege. One component of this initiative is to look at our policies for divisional and international board recruitment, so that the seats at our conference tables better represent not only the diversity of our membership, but the diversity of those audiences our members serve.

Creating an inclusive community will not succeed without a diverse pool of talent from which our member companies can draw. To that end, later this year we will be launching our TEA mentoring program, so we can connect the right individual with the right leader to assist in their career development. We will also open dialogue with our global educational partners so that we can devise new ways of becoming a more welcoming creative community.

We will rally together - members, volunteer leaders and staff - to move this initiative forward. Things might not proceed as quickly as we would like, but as stated in our initial letter, we can and will do better. The Association is composed of members that are storytellers. As an Association committed to fostering themed entertainment excellence in all its forms, we must strive to give voice to the voiceless, representation to the underrepresented, and access to the marginalized, not just in certain areas of the world, but across the entire global community we serve.

We will be looking to you in the coming weeks, months and beyond to be a part of this conversation, and we will do our best to offer opportunities for constructive dialogue. Through our recently launched TEA Digital initiative, we are in a better position to have these conversations than ever before. While these dialogues will be difficult, they are necessary, and we believe they will lead not only to a more inclusive and collaborative TEA, but a more inclusive, collaborative, and ultimately creative and successful industry.

Change is not achieved by a single press release, step, or individual, but through a collaborative, many-stepped journey.  We are not shying away from the journey ahead.

Sincerely,

The TEA International Board Executive Committee

Michael Blau, International Board President

Jennie Nevin, Chief Operating Officer

Chris Conte, International Board Secretary

Nathan Jones, International Board Vice President

Michael Mercadante, International Board Immediate Past President

Clara Rice, International Board Vice President

Brian Sands, International Board Treasurer

 

 

Posted by Judy Rubin

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