HOBT Statement on Children's Theatre Company
In the Heart of the Beast Puppet and Mask Theatre (HOBT) was asked to comment on Children’s Theatre Company (CTC)’s response to Laura Stearns’ lawsuit against CTC. For Laura Stearns and many others whose lives have been impacted for decades, a collective hesitation to comment on the part of the Twin Cities arts community signals the silence of complicity. And so this letter is written on behalf of HOBT’s staff leadership who agree that our peers and colleagues most affected by this trauma deserve a community response.
Institutions are never more important than individuals. An institution, no matter how long-standing, deeply resourced, or well loved, can never be more important than the people and communities impacted by it. If CTC intends to be an upstanding member of the Twin Cities theater community, the organization must put first and foremost the lived experience of Laura Stearns and the other survivors of childhood sexual abuse at CTC, and truly reconcile with the ongoing impacts of the harm their organization has caused. This must come before protecting the institution.
As an arts and culture community, we find ourselves in a transformative moment. We lost several long-standing institutions in recent years, and we see others at risk. The institutions that move forward will be those that find genuinely innovative and equitable ways to do the work. This is the time to refuse to continue patterns of silence, complicity, and compromise that put institutions above individuals.
Like so many Twin Cities arts organizations, HOBT finds ourselves in the midst of a difficult transformation. But within that difficulty, we also see a great opportunity. We have declared that the only way forward for HOBT is through building staffing structures, business model, and MayDay plan rooted in justice and equity. We don't claim to have the solutions, but we have deep agreement that our only path forward is in making this work our highest priority.
CTC has the same opportunity. The institution can attempt to fully reconcile with a history of child abuse and the institutional complacency and silence that have deepened damage rather than heal it. This will require authentic change at every level of the organization. We have yet to see this commitment from CTC. CTC's survival as an institution must not be set at a higher priority.
We hope this will be a watershed moment for our community, one where we wholeheartedly commit to creating a thriving, vibrant, diverse Twin Cities arts community that believes and supports survivors, centers the voices of people of color, and embodies in our community the just world our art imagines on the stage. We do not claim to speak from a moral high ground. We speak on behalf of an organization that has made mistakes in the past and will make mistakes in the future. What we learn from those mistakes and carry forward makes all the difference.
The HOBT Leadership Team,