Since our beginning, Technicians for Change’s mission has been to educate, connect, and empower entertainment technicians on workers rights and protections. We were born out of workers exposed to unsafe working conditions, unprotected by our employers, and dis-empowered. We saw people in our industry across the board getting injured, being taken advantage of, underpaid, and without safety nets or knowledge of defenses that could shelter them. In the five years since we started, we have endeavored to show up for the live events technicians and designers of the Twin Cities. In issues of harassment, pay disparities, marginalized groups, BIPOC representation, legal protections, contracts, workshops, and creating community among those in our local industry– we wanted to support the workers in every way we could.
On May 25, 2020 George Floyd was killed in Minneapolis, our home. The grief and anger arising from seeing the viral video of the white police officer kneeling on a black man’s neck set the world on fire with screams for justice. The people of Minneapolis and St. Paul themselves erupted in protests, uprisings, and confrontations with police and white supremacists over the injustice of yet another black man being killed by racism. As Martin Luther King Jr. said, “a riot is the language of the unheard.”
The members of Technicians for Change felt called to get behind our neighbors, to show up in solidarity, and to throw our voices and our bodies into the efforts. Some were making masks, some went to protests, some assisted in clean-up, some engaged with food shelves and donations, and many joined with the efforts of University Rebuild (UR). We didn’t even talk about it; we just acted and caught up with each other along the way. Particularly with University Rebuild, we found our lane in the efforts to serve the community as it worked to tear down the systems of racism. The group is mostly made up of unemployed live event technicians, and we were able to contribute our skills to install plywood to protect our neighbors’ local businesses and homes. UR’s guiding principles are “Solidarity Not Charity” and “Black Lives Matter.” We were proud to serve alongside them.
In the continued awakening of the world to racism, white American theatre makers are being called on to be accountable. The storm of voices in our communities has laid bare the reality that white people have benefited from systemic racism in our workplaces, and that whatever advocacy we had done in the past was not enough. Technicians for Change, as an organization whose current leadership is white, accept that we need to examine our flaws, sit with them, and to never forget.
Technicians for Change is heavy work. We do our best to support people who don’t feel like they can stand anymore, to stand ourselves in the gap to advocate, to amplify people who feel like they don’t have a voice, to push awareness or policies where there might not have been any before, and to show our faces when anonymity would be safety. But when we were confronted with our crucial weaknesses regarding our BIPOC co-workers, we knew we needed to reorganize our priorities.
So Technicians for Change is restructuring itself. Right now. We are getting back on our feet. We know we are going to mess it up and make mistakes but we are not going to give up.
It is our responsibility to invest in the Black, Indigenous, and People of Color of the technician community. It is our responsibility to partner with, amplify, give space, and build platforms for our neighbors to be seen, heard, and have a place at the production table and production tables of their own. It is our responsibility to do better not just at holding space but actively inviting in our neighbors and their stories and their skills. It is our responsibility to dismantle racism, white supremacy, and biases in our industry.
We will do our part. We will do the work. We will build bridges. We will lean in.
We are Technicians and Designers who see the need for Change in ourselves, in our field, in our communities, in our country, and in our world. And in Technicians for Change—BLACK LIVES MATTER.