Currently, these are the steps Unattended Baggage is taking to become an anti-racist & radically inclusive media collective.
At the heart of our collective, accessibility to the work we put out into the world is essential.
When UB began in 2017, our collective was made up of a few scrappy, broke, 20-somethings who couldn't afford to see the kind of work we wanted to make (site-specific and immersive stuff, specifically). So together, we pledged we would create work that we could afford to see with our low-income wages. Since Unattended Baggage's inception, our company model has always been incredibly DIY, which has impacted our fundraising model and revenue stream quite a bit, especially since keeping ticket sales low has always been our first priority.
As a result of keeping ticket sales low, our projects have been historically low budget, and we have often relied on volunteer work and grassroots funding to make our projects happen. This is all to say, we have been limited in the amounts we have been able to compensate our artists and staff (at this time, we can only provide small honorariums/stipends, meals every once in a while, and school credit, if necessary).
While we will continue our pledge to keep ticket prices to view our work as accessible as possible ($20 and under), for specific projects such as our fundraising events and certain other projects, we will have to charge higher ticket prices in order to pay off our administrative and programming costs in addition to paying our artists, leaders, and interns.
It's important to acknowledge that in the past, we have worked with venues that have been in control of the ticket prices and they are the ones who set them higher, not us. The reality is that most performance spaces in major cities are like this, and it's unavoidable there will be instances in the future where we may have to charge more than average because of where we choose hold our performances. Despite this, we pledge to continue making free and low cost content as often as possible and keep financial accessibility at the forefront of our mission. We pledge to find opportunities for audience members who cannot afford to see our work to volunteer in exchange for free tickets. For select productions, we will allow members of the Dramatists Guild, SDC, Actor's Equity to attend for free or pay-what-you-can. In addition to this, we will provide free screeners for SAG-AFTRA members before general release upon request for select films.
In terms of physically making our work accessible for the Disabled community, this is still something we are working towards. New York City, where we produce a majority of our work, is surprisingly ableist in its city planning, especially as it pertains to buildings and transportation. Despite this, we strive to keep any live events inaccessible locations. If the venue is inaccessible for a person with a Disability or if a person with a Disability requires accommodations such as interpreters or audio devices, we encourage those with disabilities to contact us. We will do our very best to accommodate them and provide a remote option for viewing if they cannot enter the premises of the event physically.
We have not yet had a live performance with interpreters, listening devices, or autism-friendly performances due to budgetary constraints. However, we hope that by 2025 we will be able to allocate more funding to keep our work accessible for Disabled communities and can use said funding to hire interpreters and audio devices and add autism-friendly performances to our longer-running stage performances. We also aim to have a subtitle option available for all of our film projects by then.
We also aim to increase non-white artists in our core artistic leadership. However, in the interest of radical transparency, the way our collective operates is somewhat anarchistic and inconsistent.
For this reason, we also have no desire to exploit Black, Brown, Indigenous, and AAPI artists and administrators in leadership roles on a volunteer basis so that we can say we're a diverse company. Instead, we promise to continue to reassess and shift our core artistic structure on an ongoing basis as the need for more leadership evolves. In addition, as we continue to secure proper funding, we strive to build relationships with more leaders of the Black, Brown, Indigenous, and AAPI communities.
Due to the fact that we are still trying to secure funding to ensure fair wages, we cannot guarantee an exact timeline, but our hope is by 2025 that half of our core leadership team will be compromised of non-white (and Disabled) individuals. In tandem with this goal, we will also commit to diversity training and workshops for all of our projects when our budget allows.
While programming for our company is decided internally and we do not have a formal official submission process, our hope is by 2025 that half of our programming will feature non-white and Disabled talent at the helm of creation, including in front of and behind the scenes. If you identify as a non-white or Disabled artist and wish to collaborate with us, reach out to us. We would love to hear from you.