Focus Areas and Subcommittee Work

In 2020, the Transformation Team identified five focus areas for work related to PBT’s IDEA strategic plan and developed a subcommittee around each of these areas, which are: (1) building accessibility and inclusivity, (2) digital accessibility, (3) hiring, recruitment and retention, (4) internal/external communications and (5) PBT School. 

The subcommittees function in a highly collaborative manner and subcommittee chairs meet monthly with the Transformation Team’s steering committee to address progress on strategic initiatives. This structure enables the direct involvement of a greater number of PBT team members in IDEA work and provides an additional layer of accountability around the IDEA strategic plan. 

Provided below are some key accomplishments in each focus area, many of which were led by the work of the subcommittees.

Building accessibility and inclusivity

Strategic plan goal: Define what IDEA means for PBT.

  • A full accessibility audit of PBT Studios was conducted in summer 2020, recommendations of which were provided to the Transformation Team and Safety Committee.
  • A mini-refresh of art in PBT’s main lobby updated presented photographs to better reflect the current make-up of the company and to improve representation of dancers of color.
  • The Google Arts & Culture story project identified photography for inclusion in the full building’s upcoming art refresh.
  • The subcommittee worked with leadership to make sure that PBT considered the needs of all families in its response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Goals for FY22: Update presented art in studios to better reflect the diverse history and present of PBT; update lobby seating to make facilities more accessible; update signage to include Braille translations

Digital accessibility

Strategic plan goal: Enrich and grow community engagement efforts.

  • An accessible image description project was launched in collaboration with PBT’s long-time audio describer, Mary Ann Graziano.
  • The subcommittee created guides for PBT team members around digital accessibility, including for creating e-blasts and developing website materials.
  • Audio description was provided digitally for both fall 2020’s Open Air series and Fireside Nutcracker.
  • Closed captioned versions of many of PBT’s audience education programs were made available throughout the 21-22 season, including for Fireside Nutcracker and Digital Spotlight.

Goals for FY22: Roll out image description for season materials (e.g., The Nutcracker e-blasts); continue discussion of closed captioning and audio description in collaboration with the education team

Hiring, recruitment and retention

Strategic plan goal: Formalize recruitment and hiring search practices to attract, recruit and retain diverse candidates.

  • PBT hired a full-time human resources manager in spring 2020. This position serves on the Transformation Team and leads the hiring subcommittee.
  • Drafted policies around equity officially went into effect across the organization in 2020 (e.g., keeping a position open until a diverse pool of candidates has applied). This has led to documented success in increasingly diverse recruitment and hiring decisions on both the administrative and artistic teams.
  • Implementation of Paycor software makes tracking of the employee lifecycle possible for PBT. This includes tracking from where candidates hear of opportunities (including diverse channels) and recording exit interviews (newly introduced).
  • The subcommittee reviewed PBT’s employee handbook and drafted several new policies, which will go into effect by fall (e.g., creation of a floating holiday for religious inclusion; implementation of the CROWN Act for employees).
  • All job postings at PBT were reviewed for inequities and/or barriers to entry (e.g., unnecessary education and/or ability requirements). Salary transparency is also a goal of updated job postings.

Goals for FY22: Create onboarding trainings around IDEA (using new and shared materials); continue work with the artistic team on hiring practices; focus on enforcing policy compliance across the organization


Internal/external communications

Strategic plan goal: Build upon the diverse networks connecting PBT to the community.

  • The inaugural season of quarterly IDEA lunch-and-learns for PBT team included three presentations by community leaders. These were all recorded and are available as resources for PBT education moving forward.
  • The subcommittee identified resources and allies in the greater Pittsburgh arts community and took steps towards establishing a standing advisory council around IDEA initiatives. This group will focus on accessibility initiatives given PBT’s strong relationships with many accessibility advocates in the region. 

Goals for FY22: Organize a quarterly lunch-and-learn series, which will include external talk opportunities for speakers; officially establish an advisory council for PBT

PBT School

Strategic plan goal: Enrich and grow PBT School efforts.

  • PBT School’s dress code was updated and now permits students to wear skin tone tights and shoes in both classes and performances.
  • Two PBT School grad students were invited to serve on the subcommittee, marking the first time School students have had the opportunity to serve on an administrative committee at PBT.
  • The Pittsburgh Dance Connections class series introduced PBT students to dance leaders (e.g., Ayisha Morgan-Lee; Naina Green) from throughout Pittsburgh and provided introductory classes in a variety of dance styles (e.g., Horton technique; khatak) during the 20-21 school year.
  • The Community Youth Scholarship program served 30 students in the 21-22 school year, including seven new students. The program provided barres, marley flooring and additional tech support to families throughout the pandemic.
  • Collection of expanded demographic data began in spring 2021, including collection of racial/ethnic and gender identity data for Company Experience and ISP applicants. These data will be used to build more inclusive policies at PBT School.
  • PBT is working with University of Pittsburgh doctoral candidate Victoria LeFavre on creation of curricular materials around the diverse history of dance. These are being designed to be accessible for all age groups.

Goals for FY22: Roll out IDEA seminars to PBT School students; identify additional student leaders for committee service; continue to create more equitable policies for auditions and student recruitment; collect and analyze school demographics data for summer and school year programs