Statement from the PlayPenn Board of Directors
July 25, 2020
We have heard loud and clear from the artistic community that in order for PlayPenn to continue to serve that community, we must do better with how we approach diversity, equality, and inclusion issues. We are hard at work developing PlayPenn’s path forward.
We know that our success in the future will depend on our ability to incorporate more diverse people and perspectives into all aspects of our organization. We also know that it is crucial to PlayPenn’s future that we learn the full extent of any and all sexual misconduct and address those issues as well.
PlayPenn’s Board of Directors is working with a local law firm with extensive experience conducting internal investigation related to issues of sexual misconduct and discrimination. The firm was chosen specifically because they are known for conducting full investigations and for providing employers with candid conclusions and recommendations, refusing to gloss-over or cover-up any acts of misconduct.
We understand that sharing your experience, in some situations, for the second and third time, may be triggering. It is not our intention to re-victimize anyone. We simply need more information than can be gleaned from emails and posts.
If it makes anyone with relevant information more comfortable, the Board has agreed that the identity of any witness will be kept confidential and that witnesses can elect to talk to our team in small groups (of no larger than four).
In order to understand what happened and to ensure that the organization takes effective steps to avoid this in the future, we are asking for anyone who may have relevant information as to any concerns about their experience with PlayPenn to reach out to Melissa Hazell Davis at firstname.lastname@example.org to share your experience.
While we are attempting to reach out to all who we believe may have helpful information, please let us know before July 31, 2020 if you have relevant, first-hand experience that you are willing to share.
Thank you for all your past and current contributions, and your patience as we conduct this investigation in order to create a safe and more inclusive PlayPenn.
Statement from the PlayPenn Board of Directors
July 20, 2020
Yesterday, after discussions with the PlayPenn Board of Directors, Paul Meshejian resigned his position as Artistic Director, and Michele Volansky was terminated as Associate Artistic Director.
Paul’s and Michele’s contributions to PlayPenn cannot be overstated. Paul founded the organization in 2004, and Michele became involved with it in 2006. As a result of their collective efforts, PlayPenn has become the artist-driven institution it is today, supporting risk-taking, boundary-pushing work from artists of all races, religions, gender identities, ethnicities, sexual orientations, and disabilities.
However, as a result of recent allegations of wrongdoing that members of our community have made against the organization, the PlayPenn Board of Directors decided that it was in the best interests of PlayPenn for Paul and Michele to leave their positions. We will continue our investigation into those recent allegations.
We have heard from members of the artistic community that PlayPenn was not meeting community members’ expectations for racial and cultural competence. We are beginning the process of building a PlayPenn that better reflects and incorporates the diverse minds, bodies, and souls of the communities we serve.
Starting with COVID-19, these past few months have been the most difficult of PlayPenn’s 16-year existence. There is no question that the coming weeks and months will bring with them a challenging but necessary period of change for our organization.
With the continued support of our staff, our artists, our donors, and the artistic community at large, PlayPenn will emerge from this period a stronger organization dedicated to the development of new plays and playwrights.
PlayPenn advances Philadelphia’s reputation as a crossroads for theatre artists.
The Art and Craft of Playwriting
PlayPenn is an artist-driven organization dedicated to improving the way in which new plays are developed. Our annual Conference and year-round development workshops result in staged readings of new plays each year for over 1,800 artists, producers, and theatergoers. Additionally, our educational programs serve another 250 writers from around the globe.
Our 2020 Playwrights
We support artists at all career stages across a broad spectrum of cultural, economic, ethnic, and gender experience.
Want to know more about the application process and selection? Learn more here.
STAY TUNED FOR UPCOMING COURSES
As an organization devoted to the theatrical telling of stories that represent the breadth of society and culture in our country, we are aware of the responsibility we have to our community and to ourselves to redouble our efforts to ensure that stories from every quarter find support toward public telling.
Read our full statement here.