The community has recognized the Fox Cities Performing Arts Center as a multicultural gathering place for more than 20 years. Having a welcoming space for individuals to come together and share their thoughts and ideas openly is vital to ensuring a stronger community. Your Fox Cities P.A.C. strives to make the Center a welcoming place for people of all ages, abilities, backgrounds, and interests. To foster acceptance and a focus on diversity and inclusion, the Center has prioritized meaningful conversations, representative programming, and engaging activities for all community members to connect.
The Center’s Community Impact & Diversity Manager, Claire Klaver, works to develop an atmosphere of inclusivity for all at your Fox Cities P.A.C. Starting her role in May 2023, Claire builds relationships within the community in a personal and professional capacity. “I am trying to meet everyone I can and establish myself in the community by attending community events, professional summits, and having one-on-ones with other professionals in the area,” Claire shared. By making these initial connections, Claire is strengthening relationships and creating mutually beneficial partnerships in the community. Through these relationships, your Fox Cities Performing Arts Center continually works toward ensuring that it is a multicultural gathering place for all.
Diverse communities in the region are working with your Fox Cities P.A.C. to understand how the Center is engaging with different audiences and what improvements can be made to make the space even more welcoming. Representatives of diverse communities in the area including Hispanic/Latinx, Hmong, Black/African American, the LGBTQ+ community, and Center staff are part of an Advocacy Committee to ensure the Fox Cities P.A.C. is an inviting space for all people. Conversations within the committee share insights into what some community members love about the Center and ways they wish to see it develop. From what performers they would like to see to signage that would be helpful to patrons, community members can feel more at ease knowing that their Fox Cities Performing Arts Center is continually striving to serve the community.
Partnerships in the community can often tie into the Fox Cites P.A.C.’s diverse programming through series including Boldt Arts Alive! Series and Spotlight Series. In the Center’s 20th Anniversary Season, there were numerous partnerships with local businesses and organizations to bring the community together through performing arts experiences. Partnerships included working with Neenah Historical Society, Appleton Public Library, IndUS of the Fox Valley, Appleton Boychoir, Building for Kids and many more, enhancing understanding of and appreciation for the arts. Claire remarked, “The Center’s Chief Programming Officer Amy Gosz, does an excellent job of inviting performers of all different backgrounds, disciplines and cultures to perform in the Boldt Arts Alive! Series.” These collaborations provided a deeper context connected to the partnered performances, sometimes in the form of workshops and pre- and post-show discussions. Other times, partnerships can lead to tours of the Fox Cities P.A.C.’s spaces and facilities or performing for community events which help welcome and introduce newcomers to the Center.
Working toward creating a welcoming and inclusive environment first starts from within the Center. Claire is a part of the Inclusion and Belonging Committee which is open to all Center staff. The committee meets on average once a month and closely follows the Fox Cities P.A.C.’s commitment to inclusion and belonging. “I’m proud to say that we have staff from all over our organization on the committee that are either proud allies or members of a diverse group,” Claire commented. While Claire has taken on more of an unofficial leadership position in the committee, it is very much a collaboration with staff members.
The Inclusion and Belonging Committee is continually looking for ways for staff members to actively engage in educational opportunities to understand various backgrounds. In the Center’s 20th Anniversary Season, staff members attended events including a “Lunch and Learn” about pronouns and an exhibit about identity at the Trout Museum of Art, opening to learning more about diverse communities. At the Trout Museum, staff members explored the “Reclaiming Identity” Exhibit, viewing artistic pieces created by Indigenous artists from the U.S. and Mexico that expressed themes surrounding identity and culture, including family lineage, shared histories, colonization, assimilation and more. During the 2023-24 Season, the committee is planning events around gender identity, sensory inclusivity and more.
Embracing open conversations about culture and identity, Fox Cities P.A.C. staff are spending a year engaging in Cultural Competency Meetings with Dr. Pam of 4Chi Business Solutions. “Our Cultural Competency meetings are very much our way of introducing tough topics in a safe space and structured environment,” Claire reflected. She added, “They are a way for our staff to educate themselves, to learn from each other and meet their colleagues and peers where they’re at in their lived experiences. The meetings are about personal and professional growth and how we can continue to be the best humans we can be in an ever-changing world.”
A safe space encourages willingness and openness to have difficult conversations centered around race, equity, discrimination, biases, microaggressions and more. Since these conversations may be challenging to begin organically, having a designated time to have them specifically helps ease discomfort and allows for respectful and active listening. “By having Dr. Pam facilitate these conversations, we are creating an intentional space free of judgement to continue to develop grace and empathy for ourselves and others around us,” Claire reflected. “They are intended for us identify and examine where we are at in our understanding and perceptions.”
Sparking additional educational conversations, Claire is building a personal diversity library at her own office space for staff members to access. The books will focus on communities within the area including Menominee, Ho-Chunk, Hmong, LGBTQ+ and more. Engaging in opportunities to partake in larger conversations, staff at your Fox Cities P.A.C. will continue ensuring that all visitors to the Center experience a safe and welcoming space to enjoy the performing arts. Together, we can work to ensure that the Fox Cities Performing Arts Center continues to be a place of acceptance and a multicultural gathering place for all.
For more information, please email [email protected].
Written by Philomena Dorobek, Brand Storyteller
Fox Cities Performing Arts Center