TimeLine’s mission is to learn from the past to better understand where we are today and to inform what we do tomorrow.
With widening divides in our country, it seems harder and harder to identify what lessons have truly been learned from history. What progress can we point to with strengthening civic discourse, confronting oppression and racism, and achieving equity? How can our theatre be a respectful place for those who feel not only disenfranchised but threatened and afraid in this climate?
The Chicago theatre community has been embroiled in a discussion around these questions—specifically, how to respond when a piece of art sparks public commentary that goes beyond merely clashing with our own opinions and values, but that exhibits a lack of understanding that causes pain. There have been calls from both inside and outside our organization to alter our ticket policy for press, determining who does/doesn’t receive access to review our shows free of charge.
In a spirit of transparency, we have divided points of view. Some in our organization see a change in policy as a crucial and positive step toward addressing patterns of offensive commentary and standing in solidarity with those in the community demanding change. And there are others concerned that putting any new conditions on our press policy conflicts with a core value of inviting all points of view, even ones with which we might vehemently disagree.
After much conversation, listening and debate, the Company Members have come to the conclusion that some action, even if imperfect, is better than no action. TimeLine will stand in solidarity with the artists asking us to use discretion with our allocation of free tickets.
This stands in line with what the the American Theatre Critics Association endorsed this week, defending a critic’s right to say whatever they choose while also stating that they “unreservedly support every theater’s absolute right to distribute complimentary tickets applying any criteria it chooses”.
TimeLine’s leadership—our Company, Board and Staff—are united and committed to furthering a discussion, already underway at TimeLine—looking inward to expand our commitments to diversity, equity and inclusion. We remain focused on the work required to make TimeLine better.