Past Statement of Actions
July 2, 2020
As leaders of the Arts Club, we strive to be kind, clear, and fair employers, creating a home for talented staff whom we value, develop, and retain. We are committed to fostering a welcoming, supportive and creative place for artists – to be an incubator where artists create exceptional work fully reflective of our community. We seek to have a culture that crackles with positivity, a generosity of spirit, and a willingness to engage with difficult content and conversations.
As the whole theatre sector experiences this intermission from staging shows, we want to take this opportunity to learn more about people’s experiences at the Arts Club and explore where there are barriers to inclusion within the company—including those created by systemic racism. Our job is to listen to ongoing conversations and to engage in a deep examination of our past and current working practices, so that we can improve and build bridges for the future.
As leaders of the Arts Club, we are committed to these direct actions:
- Collaborating with paid BIPOC artists, we are currently engaging our teams in conversations about systemic racism – to uncover how it exists within the organization, and to take specific and strategic actions to dismantle it. Our goal through these conversations is to create a culture where we all have agency and accountability for this ongoing work. The first step, made clear by this process, will be the creation of an Anti-Racism Policy for all employees.
UPDATE: In the summer of 2020, the Arts Club worked with artists through the ECOS (Education and Community Outreach) program to look at how we can identify systemic racism in our organization. This program created twenty temporary full-time positions for artists, many of whom were part of Arts Club shows cancelled as a result of the pandemic. In working with artists such as Sia Foryoh and Omari Newton, we were able to make some deeper community connections, and the role of Community Liaison evolved out of this program. We also developed a “Commitment to Inclusion Statement,” which is a living document shared with all contract artists who work with the Arts Club.
- We are engaging local theatre artist and activist Omari Newton as our Community Liaison throughout the summer. Omari will focus on practices of inclusion at the Arts Club, foster our relationship with the professional theatre community, and make specific recommendations and plans for the company.
UPDATE: We worked with Omari Newton through the 2020–2021 season and are excited that he will be continuing his work as Community Liaison through 2021–2022.
- We will hire an Accessibility Coordinator to provide guidance and counsel on accessibility at the Arts Club, and to aid in the creation of inclusive programs for persons with disabilities, including artists, audiences and staff. We are grateful that this position has been made possible through funding from the British Columbia Arts Council; it will be in place for the 2020–2021 season.
UPDATE: We worked with Amy Amantea through the 2020–2021 season and have reengaged Amy as Accessibility Coordinator through 2021–2022 to continue the work of creating and maintaining accessible spaces and experiences at the Arts Club.
- We will create and grow a designated fund within our endowment to be used for anti-racist and inclusive activities throughout the organization. We are excited to share more about this fund soon.
UPDATE: The Arts Club launched the Denis Simpson Fund, an endowment created to support the continued decolonization of the institution through ongoing apprenticeships, commissions, internships, and engaging industry leaders from diverse communities. In 2021, the Arts Club raised an additional $44,000 for the fund, bringing the total to over $100,000. This season, two BIPOC artistic mentees will be hired as Assistant Director and Assistant Music Director for the Arts Club’s upcoming production of Kinky Boots.
- We will undertake an internal audit to collect comprehensive data about the diversity of our past and current teams, including staff, artists and board members. This data will be used to assess how we have, or have not, reflected the diversity of our community and whether people of all characteristics have had equitable access to opportunity. We will assess shortcomings and successes, and use these findings to meaningfully and thoughtfully create processes, take actions, and hold ourselves accountable.
UPDATE: We have started this process by hiring Bakau Consulting to audit the experiences of our past and present employees, volunteers, board members, and artists. This audit report has led to the Arts Club developing our Equity, Diversity, Inclusion, and Accessibility plan as one of our strategic priorities, with a working group that meets monthly to ensure that we have tactics to drive us forward.
- We understand that not everyone is comfortable speaking candidly to their past, present, or potential employers. We will be establishing a third-party confidential disclosure process that will create a safe space for artists and staff to speak about their experiences either working at or gaining access to employment at the Arts Club. While this process can be used to seek information to address a specific concern (when possible), the primary outcome is to identify themes and barriers to equity and inclusion in the company’s practices and workplace culture. This report will anonymize feedback and contribute to the development of a detailed action plan for accountability. These findings and our resulting plan will be part of an ongoing examination and bettering of our working practices and culture. At this point, we are putting together the third-party confidential disclosure process and more information about this timeline will be shared as soon as we have it.
UPDATE: Working with Bakau Consulting, an anonymous survey was developed for staff, artists, volunteers, and board members to outline their experiences with the Arts Club. Additionally, the Arts Club engaged Clear HR Consulting to collect anonymous feedback from artists and staff about our practices and culture.
In order to foster and grow transparency, we will publicly share reports of the work detailed above, including:
- Recommendations and actions from our internal departmental work
- Recommendations from our Community Liaison
- Recommendations from our Accessibility Coordinator
- Findings from our internal audit
- Findings from the third-party confidential disclosure report
After the public has had time to read and consider these reports, we will host a Community Forum. At the forum, details of the reports will be shared and there will be an opportunity for community discussion.
The Arts Club strives to be a space for the community; a space where, through imagination and storytelling, we are able to have compassion and empathy for others. And so, the Arts Club must be a safe space for all members of this community. We are committed to doing the work to uncover the barriers that exist to engagement with the Arts Club, and we are committed to dismantling them.
Ashlie Corcoran, Artistic Director
Peter Cathie White, Executive Director