The Outer Critics Circle (OCC) Code of Conduct as adapted by the OCC from the Code of Conduct previously approved and updated in July 2017 in San Francisco by The American Theatre Critics Association (ATCA), the following text comes directly from the ATCA Code of Ethics as it most directly and aptly applies to the members of the OCC and their close relationship with all the professionals with whom they work, communicate and interact within the New York and beyond theater community.
Our love of theater has brought us together from a variety of backgrounds, careers, and levels of experience. It is important for us to remember that our actions reflect on the organization, its members, and the profession.
Membership in the Outer Critics Circle is a privilege. The members are expected to adhere to the following in the performance of their professional duties:
- Collegiality is expected within the Outer Critics Circle. Members must treat their colleagues with professional and personal respect, courtesy, and integrity. Ad hominem attacks will not be tolerated in Outer Critics Circle meetings and activities and are strongly discouraged in our profession as a whole.
- Members of the Outer Critics Circle are expected to maintain high standards of journalistic practice with respect to the integrity and independence of their reporting and reviewing. Such standards include, but are not limited to, confirmation of news and information by reliable sources, acknowledgment of sources, accuracy of quotes, and freedom from conflicts of interest (actual or perceived).
- Complimentary tickets or merchandise are intended for use only by members and their guest (if any). Complimentary tickets/items not used by a member should be returned to the giver (typically the theater company or media representative). It is forbidden to re-gift them to third parties or to sell them. Asking for more–whether tickets, merchandise, or anything else–is discouraged unless offered.
- A member must adhere to the policies of individual theatres he/she attends with respect to the use of cell phones and other mobile devices, cameras or other recording/photographic devices, smoking, and bringing food or drink into the playhouse. Members should be aware that the various performing unions (AEA, SDC among them) forbid the use of recording or image-taking devices during performances (including curtain calls) unless expressly authorized in advance.
- In the course of performing their duties, members should be discreet in discussing productions or performances in public spaces before, after, and during the performance. Members should respect the reticence of colleagues who prefer not to discuss their reactions.
- Members must be sensitive to issues of racism, sexism, homophobia, diversity, and underrepresented populations.
- Members should respect the reputation of the Outer Critics Circle and not invoke OCC’s name or their membership in it to intimidate, coerce, or establish their bona fides.
- Members recognize that their postings on social media–often done in an instant–can reflect upon their professional status and reputation, and also on the status and reputation of the Outer Critics Circle.
- Members should recognize that failure to abide by this agreement may jeopardize OCC’s relationship with media representatives, event hosts, the theater community, and others who offer the organization services or hospitality. It also compromises our reputation, both individually and as the only national professional organization for theatre critics.
- Members should not be late for performances.
- Members should refrain as much as possible from changing dates at short notice.
- Members should refrain from canceling their attendance after opening night reviews have appeared.
- Members should not request locations, unless there is a mobility issue.
- Members should send tear sheets and links on a regular basis.
- Members should double-check their reviews for data accuracy, also the correct spelling of names.
- Members should do the necessary homework with regard to reviewing a revival.
- Members should seriously consider a conflict of interest in reviewing a show that involves a friend or relative. In some cases, a disclaimer is a good idea.
- Members should never be guilty of distracting other patrons either with pens that light up or the use of smartphones to light up notes or programs during a performance.
Any member may be expelled from the OCC for socially egregious, illegal, or unethical acts committed in the course of work as a theater critic or journalist as outlined in the Code of Conduct. The Executive Committee shall investigate all such acts. Members may be expelled by a majority vote by the Executive Committee. The Executive Committee shall only use this option following a careful, final, and non-biased investigation of violations and actions by a member of the OCC.
Prepared and submitted by Outer Critic Circle Vice President/ATCA member Simon Saltzman and OCC Member Victor Gluck, ATCA committee chairman (based on the Ethical Standards recently updated and confirmed by the American Theater Critics Association).
The Outer Critics Circle is grateful for getting permission from the ATCA to adapt and to adopt the code to fit the specific needs of the OCC.