Is abuse happening now at CTC?
No, there is no evidence of abuse presently at CTC, and the perpetrators from the 70s and 80s are no longer employed by the theatre. CTC has put policies in place which protect the physical safety of children, but we believe they could go further.
Here are some ways CTC policies could improve holistic child safety within the organization:
- Independent audit: An independent audit of CTC’s child protection policies by a sexual assault advocacy organization would determine how effective policies are, and whether they need to be changed.
- Training: All associated with CTC–board and staff–should receive training in preventing and recognizing sexual abuse. Change should start at the top.
- Orientation: Some of us were unaware of CTC’s history when we were hired. New board members and staff should not only be trained, but should be educated about what happened to children in the past. This will underline the urgency of following policies and help all to remain aware of the dangers posed by abusers.
- Website resources: Given CTC’s history and the attention this scandal has attracted, the theatre should consider putting a “panic button” on its website, so that victims and survivors can click through to help immediately.
Why are you so upset? Isn’t this all in the past?
Actually, no. The theatre’s present actions concern us. CTC has actively and, as far as we can tell, aggressively defended itself against Laura Stearns, the first survivor to go to court.
For example, in the trial Ms Stearns was interrogated about other (non-theatre-related) sexual assaults she had endured. This was traumatizing to her, and we have a hard time understanding what purpose it served. Past employees testifed that they had not been aware of the abuse at the time, and the present executive director testified that things are different now.
CTC’s legal strategy is problematic.
Think about it this way: Suppose, despite all the present child protection policies, an abuser slips through the cracks and hurts a kid today. The theatre’s defense team played rough in court; the theatre defended and distanced itself from the “bad old days.” So what is the message to a theoretical victim today? How likely is that person to believe they will be dealt with compassionately and fairly? Might they see the theatre’s vaunted policies for protecting children as just a shield against liability?
Here are some of our suggestions for a more humane legal strategy.
CTC does great work. You’re still there. It must be okay.
Yes, we’re still there. We love our work as educators and artists, and we need our jobs. But we are remaining active and pushing for change. Many beloved colleagues who had better options have resigned.
And yes, CTC does good work. But protecting the institution at all costs isn’t the highest value here.
CTC leadership seems contrite. They say they believe survivors, and they want justice and healing. What’s the problem?
For us, this has really torn the lid off a lot of things. We have had to face the fact that we work at a place that was built on a culture of sexual abuse and cover-up. We feel like we owe sexual assault victims something, something big. And we’d like our leaders to act as though they do too.
We are concerned not only about the victims who are presently suing the theatre, but about the message the theatre’s actions have sent to the community, essentially: “This is what happens to you when you seek justice.”
We don’t doubt that the leadership believes survivors. We don’t doubt that they are contrite. But they have been approaching this scandal as though it were a matter of corporate damage control. While there have been some community and staff meetings occurring, information is limited, explanations incomplete. Public statements seem defensive and gloss over the past.
CTC needs help. The leadership has made a series of bad decisions, and in our opinion, has proven that they can’t turn this thing around by themselves. They need some wiser counsel if they’re really interested in justice.
We want them to be open, clear, and in dialogue with the community about how to truly repair the harm the institutions has done to many, many people. It may be tough, but it’s doable.
Why do you want me to consider supporting your position?
As teachers and artists employed by CTC, we have no formal institutional power. Together with the community, we do have the power of our voices and vision. We need your help to bring leadership to the table with the many people who have great ideas about how to reform the institution.
What else can I do to help?
- You can choose to believe survivors.
- You can let your friends and neighbors know about this issue, and ask them to support our work by signing our statement.
- You can educate yourself about sexual assault. Start by visiting MNCASA, the Minnesota statewide sexual assault coalition.
- You can support your local rape crisis center by volunteering and donating money.
- You can contact Children’s Theatre Company directly and let your voice be heard. Please do not be rude to the front-line staff who answer phones, usher, or work in the box office. They have no control over the actions of the institution.
- See our Get Involved page for more suggestions.
How can I help increase public visibility?
If you have signed our statement and feel the need to do more, you can take a selfie or a ten-second video holding a sign that reads #StandingWithCTCSurvivors. Send it to us, and we will add it to our gallery.
You haven’t convinced me. Now what?
If you have questions, please feel free to contact us. We respect your opinions, and understand that not everyone feels the same. We are interested in dialogue with all community members.