Our Commitment to Antiracism

ANPF Antiracism Pledge, February 2022


We at the Ashland New Plays Festival acknowledge our complicity in upholding racist structures and commit to the work of dismantling those structures with concrete actions. In service of transparency, we will make public our annual progress reports, as well as continue to share our original statement, below.

We are pleased to report that ANPF has made significant progress toward achieving the goals of our 2021 antiracism pledge.

  • We pledged that at least 50% of the plays we present each season will be the work of playwrights of color. In 2021, 66% of the plays presented were the work of BIPOC playwrights. In addition, 50% of our directors and 79% of our actors were BIPOC. Finally, 60% of our 2021 actors and directors were women.
  • We successfully launched and administered our Pass the Pen program, which reserves 50 spaces for invited BIPOC playwrights to submit plays, free of charge, for consideration in our Fall Festival. This program, mostly underwritten by Board members, increased the percentage of scripts by BIPOC playwrights in our Festival pool by almost 10%, leading to a more equitable final outcome. In 2021, half of the competition’s 12 finalists were scripts written by BIPOC playwrights, with five having come through the Pass the Pen program. Two of these plays were chosen as winners. Pass the Pen for 2022 has been underwritten by two of our donors.
  • Progress began on recruiting a more diverse reader pool, with increased outreach and structural changes that improved accessibility. We recruited 21 new readers who bring fresh perspectives and a wider variety of backgrounds, in terms of age, economics, race, disability, and location.
  • All ANPF board, staff, and readers participated in a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Training Session led by Vicki Clark of Vicki Clark Consulting.
  • Reader group leaders participated in two additional training sessions with BIPOC playwrights and dramaturgs, to break open perspectives on the reading process.

Throughout the past year, we embraced opportunities for systemic change and moved forward with some new programs, positions, and processes:

  • We held an inaugural New Voices Retreat for emerging playwrights, which included a stipend, virtual time and space to develop a new play, and mentorship from theatre professionals. All five members of our inaugural cohort were BIPOC artists. In addition, more than half of our retreat mentors and guests were artists of color.
  • We broadened ANPF’s organizational perspective by inviting three additional theatre professionals to join the Artistic Team. Associate Artists Octavio Solis, Kyle Haden, and Sarah Cho collaborated with the AD throughout the year on programming, play and artist selection, and matters of inclusion and equity. All three artists have agreed to continue working with us in 2022.
  • In order to counter implicit bias and prioritize authenticity in storytelling, we made several key changes to our Fall Festival competition. While the reading process remains largely anonymous, with playwright names redacted on all submission materials, we have added a personal statement requirement, providing playwrights the opportunity to share important factors of identity and context for their work. Authorship is also now revealed to the artistic director during the finalist round, allowing for consideration of identity, authenticity, and representation in the selection of the winning plays.

While we have taken positive and concrete actions forward, we acknowledge that we still have a lot of work to do.

Our 2022 goals are as follows:

  • Hold at least two educational sessions addressing antiracism to benefit our readers and organizational leaders.
  • Continue our Pass the Pen program.
  • Continue our pledge that at least 50% of the plays we present each season will be the work of BIPOC playwrights.
  • Seek grant funding for our second-annual New Voices Retreat.
  • We acknowledge that we have not attained our goal of a diverse and inclusive reader pool. We are recommitting to this goal in 2022, with an eye to more robust strategies.
  • Continue our annual review process and hold ourselves accountable throughout the year. Our next comprehensive review will take place at the end of 2022 and results will be shared in early 2023.
  • Include our antiracism statement in the organization’s Strategic Plan. Our commitment to antiracism is central to our ongoing planning.
  • Diversify the Board of Directors. While we have begun diversifying our Board of Directors, we continue to work toward a more diverse Board.

ANPF remains deeply committed to supporting all playwrights and theatre artists. We are grateful for your support as we work toward a more equitable and ethical future.


Peggy Moore, Board President
William Grove, Board Vice President
Bill Saltzstein, Board Treasurer
Kate Wolf-Pizor, Board Secretary
Jane Bardin, Board Member
Tristan Cameron, Board Member
Obed Medina, Board Member
Eric Poppick, Board Member, Reader Co-Chair
Jim Risser, Board Member
Penny Mikesell, Script Submission Coordinator
Gray McKee, Reader Co-Chair

Jackie Apodaca, Artistic Director
Sarah Cho, Associate Artist
Kyle Haden, Associate Artist, Past Artistic Director
Octavio Solis, Associate Artist
Beth Kander, Host Playwright
Kara Lewis, Program Manager
Hannah Michelle, Production Coordinator
Alysia Beltran, Casting Assistant
Katie Bullock, Administrative Assistant
Carole Florian, Editor

ANPF Antiracism Pledge, August 2020


We at the Ashland New Plays Festival acknowledge our complicity in racist structures and pledge to move forward with concrete actions.

Under the leadership of Artistic Director Kyle Haden and Associate Artistic Director Jackie Apodaca, ANPF has made important progress in diversifying our artists in recent years. We cast inclusively for all of our productions and have hired more women and BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, people of color) directors than ever before: two-thirds women and almost 40% BIPOC.

However, as an organization, we have fallen woefully short in producing plays written by BIPOC.

Our annual Fall Festival is a “blinded” competition. Plays submitted for consideration go through an intensive selection process—being read, reread, and passionately discussed amongst our dedicated readers. Throughout, the playwrights’ identities are kept secret. While this can yield surprising and wonderful results, we now know that unconscious bias exists in the process and we are confronting it head on.

We must change the landscape upon which ANPF was built. We are no longer satisfied with incremental change and commit to the following antiracist actions:

Beginning in 2021,

  • We pledge that at least 50% of the plays we present each season will be the work of BIPOC playwrights.
  • We will launch a new initiative called “Pass the Pen,” which will reserve fifty spaces for invited BIPOC playwrights to submit plays for consideration in our Fall Festival, free of charge.
  • ANPF’s board and reader leadership will form a Reader Recruitment Committee, which will work to recruit and welcome BIPOC readers from the community.
  • All ANPF board, staff, and readers will now commit to unconscious bias training.
  • We will undertake an annual review process to hold ourselves accountable. If the steps outlined above do not yield necessary change, further action will be taken.

We are deeply committed to supporting theatre artists during this time of crisis in funding for the arts. We ask that you stand with us as we reach toward a more equitable and ethical future.


Kyle Haden, Artistic Director
Jackie Apodaca, Associate Artistic Director
Peggy Moore, Board President
William Grove, Board Vice President
Beth Falkenstein, Board Treasurer, Production Manager
Roger Pearce, Board Secretary
Jane Bardin, Board Member
Eric Poppick, Board Member
Jim Risser, Board Member
Kate Wolf-Pizor, Board Member
Beth Kander, Host Playwright

Kara Q. Lewis, Program Manager
Sarah Glasgow, Administrative Assistant
Carole Florian, Editor
Andy Neal, Podcast Producer