STATEMENT OF INCLUSION
The Arts Club Theatre Company is found on the unceded, ancestrial, traditional shared lands of the xʷməθkwəy̓əm (Musqueam), Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish), and Səl̓ílwətaʔ/Selilwitulh (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations. The company was founded in 1964 by a group of passionate, dedicated and strong-willed artists who wanted to produce great theatre in Vancouver. While we are proud of many of the amazing accomplishments by these brilliant trailblazers, we are also aware that many of the systems that allowed this company to grow and prosper were harmful to some of our fellow theatre artists and practitioners.
We are fiercely dedicated to being an organization that respects, champions, and uplifts underrepresented voices in all jobs, at all times. We will not stand for marginalization, hate, bigotry or micro-aggressions in any of our spaces at any time. Our offices, rehearsal halls, dressing rooms, lobbies and stages are places for artistic expression, exploration, creation and conversations; and we will do everything in our power to ensure that everyone in those spaces feels safe, secure, and heard, so they can challenge themselves and expand artistically.
Theatre is community. The people on our stages, in our staff and our audience should accurately represent the community of which we are a part. The Arts Club strives to be a space for the whole community; a space where, through imagination and storytelling, we are able to have compassion and empathy for others. And, in order to do that, the Arts Club must be a safe space for all members of this community. We are aware that this hasn’t always been the case. We are committed to doing the continual work necessary to uncover the barriers that have, and continue to, prevent talented artists from engaging with us.
So, what are we actually doing to make all those things happen? Where are we at in this process? The simple and complex answer: we are at the beginning of a journey that will never end.
In July 2020 we outlined a clear Statement of Actions, which you can find in the “Our Story” part of our website, right here. This part of our story has started with listening and looking inwards into the heart of our company. We hired a Community Liaison and an Accessibility Coordinator to join our team and to work alongside us to help us better understand barriers, and how we can move away from the systemic racism and ableism that exists at the Arts Club. This work has permeated every single department throughout our organization, and these conversations and learning opportunities are ongoing, and will forever be ongoing. We have brought in, and compensated, multiple Artists and Advisors to discuss, dissect and work with us to devise tangible steps forward. These conversations have not been easy. They’ve really caused us to look inside and question our past practices and ways of creating art and engaging artists.
Throughout the next part of this learning and unlearning, we will focus on five main tactics - Representation, Access Point Accessibility, Training, Creating Opportunities, HR Practices & Policies. This work is discussed, dissected and lead by our EDIA working group – a diverse group of our staff. Our EDIA Team meets twice a month to discuss, and dive deeper into creating necessary change at the Arts Club.
Since August 2020, we have been working alongside Bakau Consulting to identify systemic barriers within the Arts Club, and the best steps forward. All of our full-time staff have, and will, take part in yearly Accessibility Training and we are introducing Anti-Racism Training.
We realize that every Artist who works with us comes to the Arts Club with their own unique lived experience, access needs, and requirements to feel comfortable and able to create meaningful art while engaged with our company.
At the end of 2019 we hired a Company Manager who is the Artists’ go-to person for all needs during their contracts. Every Artist hired by our company will receive the same on-boarding practices, information, and opportunities to voice their needs before they enter the rehearsal hall, as well as during rehearsals and show. These conversations will be strictly confidential and any access needs of any kind will be clearly laid out as part of each Artist’s contract. Artists will also be able to access the Arts Club HR Manager & confidential HR phone line should they need further support.
Equity and Inclusion cannot be summed up in a two-pager. It is something that needs to permeate all of our industry, as well as our company. We are dedicated to making important, integral changes that need to happen now. Mistakes will happen. Systemic barriers can’t come down overnight. But, we truly hope that this statement is the beginning of a conversation that is specific and nuanced with each and every person that walks through our doors.
We create art that tells stories, inspires people and holds a mirror up to society. We are dedicated to breaking down systemic barriers, to expanding our practice, to understanding and inviting new faces into our spaces. We expect to be held accountable for what has been laid out in this letter and we look forward to continuing to grow and move forward.
Thank you for being part of our journey.
Ashlie Corcoran, Artistic Director
Peter Cathie White, Executive Director