A while a go Clint Sinclair and I published Tackling Racism; a research report on racial inequalities in the dance industry. This report identified issues around race in our sector and one of the suggested actions was to create an Inclusion Rider as a way to help eliminate discrimination from the industry. This is in no way an original idea; following the BLM and #MeToo movements, many actors including Michael B Jordan, Ashley Judd, Frances McDormand and John Boyega, have added inclusion riders to their contracts stipulating that gender and ethnic diversity be reflected among cast and crew members. Riders are however rarely seen in dance, let alone Hip Hop dance.
What is a rider?
You might have heard about riders that seem extravagant, and some are. In general, though, riders are a standard addition to a performing contract. They spell out what an artist needs to perform at their best. Riders often require food and beverages to be available, It might also include information about special dietary requirements, access needs or the number of dressing rooms needed for your act. With that in mind, an inclusion rider would let anyone you work with know what kind of work environment you need to perform at your best. This rider doesn't stop at racial inequalities, it is a way to ensure safety and inclusion of all protected characteristics under the Equality Act 2010, this includes age, disability, gender, sex and more. You can add whatever is important to you to your rider.
How does it work?
A rider can immediately surface what is important to you and communicates your values consistently and clearly. It helps you to engage in challenging conversations that can often be difficult to start. Now, you can simply send your rider. By stipulating your personal values and using your platform to drive change, you can help partners, collaborators, clients or employers see the importance of diversity, equality and inclusion. Riders spark conversations and if there is a lack of willingness to engage with your rider, this shows a lack of commitment to your personal values. The more frequently dancers, and other performing artists, use an inclusion rider, the more institutions and organisations will be encouraged to have these types of conversations and understand the role they can play in creating a more equitable world. It's worth stating that for the rider to be effective, you have to be willing to be selective with your collaborators and turn down work from organisations that do not meet the terms stated in your rider.
Clint and I have created an Inclusion Rider that you can send out when being asked to judge, host, facilitate or perform alongside your CV or photos. As an example, see below the PDF I currently send out to anybody wanting to work with me. For this to be effective, it is important that this rider is constantly under review. Here is the text of our Inclusion Rider in case you would like to copy it and use it yourself.
If you have any suggestions to improve this rider please do get in touch! I would also love to see any examples of inclusion riders you might use.