Cleveland Play House Announces New HR Initiatives After Mishandling Sexual Assault of Actress

It will also fully pay all artists who would have worked in the production of 'I'm Back Now'

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click to enlarge Preview art for the play - Courtesy Cleveland Play House
Courtesy Cleveland Play House
Preview art for the play

Cleveland Play House (CPH) guest artistic and managing director Mark Cuddy and board of directors chair Michael Meehan today released a statement apologizing for the way CPH responded to the sexual assault of an actor in its guest artist housing and detailing corrective measures it's taking.

“We did not do enough for our guest artist and we again apologize for that,” the statement said. “Our missteps caused the entire company of artists working on ‘I’m Back Now: Returning to Cleveland’ to feel disheartened and unsafe.”

Director Stori Ayers stepped away from the production of “I’m Back Now” and playwright Charly Evon Simpson pulled the rights to the play after they said Cuddy and CPH mishandled its response to the assault.

Cuddy and CPH failed to “immediately notify the director of the show, who was independently contracted by CPH, and… immediately move the victim to different housing,” according to a statement released by CPH in February.

Although the play was canceled, CPH says all artists involved will receive full compensation.

“To all, we say we are sorry, but we know that we must show, not just talk about, how we are determined to do better,” the statement said.

In addition to contracting apartments for out-of-town artists that CPH says will be more secure, CPH says it’s revising its guest artist orientation, training and retraining staff on sexual harassment response and reporting procedures, increasing the amount of time outside human resources personnel will be onsite and prioritizing the search for a permanent human resources staff focusing on equity, diversity and inclusion.

It also established a Collaborative Equity, Diversity, Inclusion and Access Committee “charged with examining the CPH work culture, our existing [equity, diversity, inclusion and access] commitments and policies, and evaluating the progress we are making toward achieving our goals in this area” and designated an equity, diversity, inclusion and access vice chair position on its board.

“We hope this letter provides some assurance of the gravity with which we view the incident that happened in January; the remorse we feel for our guest artist who experienced this trauma while with CPH; and the sincere, organization-wide commitment we have made to changing the way we operate and the culture we operate in so that an event like this does not happen again,” the statement said.

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