To our Patrons, Followers, Community, and Friends,
It is 2020. Yet, we are still in a nation where black Americans live under the shadow of fear, where their lives are marginalized, dehumanized, and destroyed. George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and too many others have been murdered, stolen from their families and their communities. This harsh reality is not new.
Black and brown people in this nation have been living and dying under this dark reality for the last 400 hundred years. Their lives continue to be stolen. Their voices and ideas continue to go unheard in favor of white voices. We must hope and pray, but we also must work to make this year of insurmountable pain and loss into a turning point on our road to a better future.
We acknowledge that we have no sufficient language to rectify the wrongs committed against black people in our nation.
However, as a company, we want to publicly acknowledge our role in this reality.
From the creation of Hearth & Mantel Theatre, we set out to establish a platform for the diverse voices of Mississippi to share stories and ideas. It is now clear to us that we have failed.
We have failed to engage with and include the many local black artists who make Jackson Mississippi such a beautiful and unique place for the arts. We have also failed to make a space for black voices in our productions and in our positions of leadership. We cannot go back in time and change the way we chose to invest in this city we call home. But, as we move forward, we can choose to do better.
This public acknowledgment is only the first step. We still have so much to learn and do, but we are committed to working each day to truly make this theatre into a space where black artists can share their stories and where they will feel seen and heard. Our goal is to be transparent with you and we welcome your feedback as we enter into this process of change. In the coming weeks, we will be sitting down to lay out measurable steps towards reconstructing Hearth & Mantel Theatre into a company that accurately represents the city of Jackson and the state of Mississippi.
In humble service,
James & Laina Kenyon
Hearth & Mantel Theatre