With respect to racialization, 70 percent of CAEA’s members identify as Caucasian/white, while 15 percent have “racially diverse” identities (12 percent people of colour and 3 percent Indigenous) (McQueen 19). Revealing another imbalance, 48 percent of racially diverse members reported feeling underrepresented in live performance, compared to 9 percent of Caucasians/whites. Moreover, 44 percent of racially diverse members and 33 percent of Indigenous members indicated that employers are less likely to perceive them as belonging to the ethno-cultural group with which they identify, compared to 75 percent of white members (CAEA, Equity Census 6). Understandably, grassroots groups have formed to combat racialized (under)representation and employment problems, such as Vancouver’s Visceral Visions, which in September 2019 launched CultureBrew.Art, “a digital platform that promotes and fosters intersectional interculturalism throughout the performing and media arts sector.” The project’s centrepiece is a searchable database of Indigenous and racialized artists that will serve as a “tool for building a more inclusive theatre culture that more authentically reflects Canada by promoting Indigenous and racialized artists; increasing hiring opportunities for IARA; and fostering intercultural connection, community, and artistic collaboration.”
When it comes to ability, the CAEA survey found that 90 percent of members are able-bodied and 8 percent are D/deaf and/or have a physical or mental disability (2 percent preferred not to say). With respect to sexual orientation, 78 percent of CAEA’s members are heterosexual and 16 percent identify with the LGBTQIA2S+ spectrum (4 percent preferred not to say). In total, 34 percent of Equity members identify as “Diverse,” which is defined as having one or more of the above traditionally marginalized identities” (McQueen 20).
Aside from supplying demographic information about the industry’s workforce, the CAEA study demonstrates the economic impact of marginalization. Average annual incomes were lower for “female members, younger members, D/deaf members and/or members with a disability and Racially Diverse members,” with the greatest discrepancy occurring between members with disabilities and able-bodied members. D/deaf members and/or members with disabilities, members over 56, and racialized members reported the lowest income rates for individual engagements (CAEA, Equity Census 6). Returning to the overarching question of progress, clearly there is still a great deal to be done to ensure equitable representation and compensation. Looking at the survey results, there is no way one can conclude that the industry has changed significantly for the better. Women, people of colour, older people, D/deaf people and/or people with disabilities, and racialized artists feel and are underrepresented, and do not enjoy the same opportunities or incomes.
A final area of examination undertaken here in relation to EDI and employment patterns is that of artistic directors, significant for their influence on programming and hiring practices. Three years ago, in 2016, employment patterns for artistic directors had stagnated, so much so that the phrase “white guy shuffle” surfaced to describe how a number of AD positions were filled by the same white men moving about the country. Responses of indignation were vocal and widespread. Industry insiders bemoaned the status quo and lost opportunities to pluralize and de-homogenize our theatres. Panels emerged, articles were written, hiring practices were questioned, social media posts circulated, and letters were sent by various people and groups.18
And then a sudden shift occurred: several women were hired into AD positions, not just at small theatres but at some of the country’s most prestigious companies. Eda Holmes was appointed AD at the Centaur Theatre (January 2017), Montreal’s largest English language theatre. Ashlie Corcoran took over the Arts Club in Vancouver (February 2018), the largest theatre in Western Canada. Natasha MacLellan became the head of Theatre New Brunswick (July 2018), one of Canada’s longest-running regional theatres; Kelley Thornton was appointed the first woman AD of Winnipeg’s Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre (October 2018), the oldest regional theatre; and Jillian Keiley’s contract was extended at the National Arts Centre (February 2019), Canada’s flagship theatre. Within two years, the Canadian theatre landscape shifted considerably with respect to AD gender demographics. There are no current statistics to ascertain the exact balance, but it is hoped this change indicates a new, sustainable trend. Time will tell if women at the helm of Canada’s largest theatres spreads change throughout the industry.
The women named above are all white, so it seems while some things change, others remain the same. Or do they? The list is shorter, but Weyni Mengesha is now the AD of Soulpepper Theatre (as of October 2018), Audrey Dwyer is associate artistic director at the Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre (March 2019), Marjorie Chan is AD of Theatre Passe Muraille (July 2019), and Tanisha Taitt is running Cahoots Theatre (July 2019). These gains are promising given the potential boost to representation that could trickledown across the discipline.
Also indicative of change—and heeding the spirit of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC)—is the creation of an Indigenous Theatre section at the National Arts Centre. Despite the failure of Canadian Heritage to fund this historic first (and the controversy that ensued), the NAC’s Indigenous Theatre, spearheaded by Kevin Loring as artistic director (October 2017), successfully launched a multi-disciplinary season in September 2019, opening with a focus on MMIW via Marie Clements’s The Unnatural and Accidental Women. The birth of a national Indigenous Theatre constitutes a momentous moment in Canadian theatre history: one that acknowledges and incorporates the TRC’s call to action, furthering EDI practices in the arts.
Where does all this leave us? It is important to remember that we have a long history of activism. We did not arrive at this juncture by happenstance; people have worked for decades to bring about the current landscape. Often the pace has been slow and painful; but evidence suggests a shift in ethos has occurred, resulting in increased EDI activity since 2015, and especially since 2017. Industry stakeholders are working together, institutions are implementing corrective actions, grassroots initiatives are organizing, and employment patterns are altering. Unequivocally, we are in a different place now than we were a decade ago, and it may well indicate a tipping point. We shifted from interest to action with the demand for greater accountability and targeted initiatives for change, and given the presence of #IdleNoMore, #BlackLivesMatter, and #MeToo, EDI has moved into the mainstream of our arts institutions. The representational logjam is loosening, and we must celebrate each success; but ultimately, given the bottom-line statistical reality, our problems are not solved yet. Still, the potential for change seems more promising than ever, provided we enact continued vigilance, coordinated efforts, and sustained actions to improve EDI in the arts and culture sector—and, by extension, Canadian society at large.</body.
1 Organizations represented on EIT’s Steering Committee included: the Ad Hoc Assembly; Associated Designers of Canada; Canadian Actors’ Equity Association; Cultural Pluralism in the Arts Movement Ontario; Indigenous Performance Arts Alliance; Literary Managers and Dramaturges of the Americas– Canada; Pat the Dog Theatre Creation; Playwrights Guild of Canada; Professional Association of Canadian Theatres; and The Deaf, Disability and Mad Arts Alliance of Canada.
2 The 2006 study offered an absolute best-case snapshot of the industry, as proportionately more companies run by women than men completed the surveys used to compile the statistical data (Burton, Adding 8).
3 PACT’s website states: “Many of our members have made a pledge—to do something to foster equity by implementing change in their own organizations: at the board level, in artistic decisions, in strategic plans, and more.” The website lists 109 regular and commercial members (“Our Members—Regular”) and 47 affiliates for a total of 156 members (PACT, “Our Members—Affiliates”). That means 9 percent of PACT members committed to the Pledge Project, or 13 percent if regular and commercial members are considered alone. Either way, this is not a very efficacious result, but better than nothing; change must start somewhere.
4 The stated aim is “to develop a national cohort of arts equity facilitators and advocates, who collaborate on increasing the reciprocal participation of equity-seeking artists and companies, the potential for equitable cross-cultural collaboration and the promotion of a truly diverse theatrical landscape” (PACT, “Announcing All In”).
5 In Edmonton, Craig Craddock, previous artistic director of Rapid Fire Theatre, was disavowed by the company after his self-confession about “contributing to rape culture” in 2017 (Ahearn). The Citadel issued a public apology in March 2018 for harassment, revealing no names at the time, but more than a year later, Bob Barker, previous artistic director (1999–2016), was expelled from CAEA based on “the findings of a Disciplinary Committee relating to a safe and respectful workplace complaint” (Lederman). In Ontario, aside from the allegations levied at Albert Schultz and Soulpepper Theatre, there was also Antonio Sarmiento, who in September 2019 was charged with seven counts of sexual assault and three counts of sexual exploitation from his time as artistic director at the Capitol Theatre in Port Hope (2013– 2018) (“Breaking”).
6 The objectives of the Not in Our Space! initiative are:
– stopping harassment before it starts
– educating Equity members and their co-workers about prohibited workspace behaviours, to prevent them from happening in the first place
– encouraging witnesses as well as subjects to come forward when they experience or observe harassment and bullying (collective responsibility)
– empowering individuals to act (see the Equity Support Spectrum) through multiple reporting options, including easy access to Equity support networks
– providing resources and assistance for situations where problems do occur (Not in Our Space!)
7 Cases include the resignations of George Randolph at the Randolph Academy and Todd Hammond at George Brown College, both in Toronto, and the sexual assault conviction of vocal coach Jose Hernandez in St. John’s.
8 As GYB noted in its literature:
Acting education in Canada has evolved; there are now over 45 performance training programs and many independent coaches who teach. Without a national dialogue or association for acting educators, there are few professional development opportunities to update/upgrade teaching skills related to the specific needs of training performers. The majority of performance teachers in Canada are either private coaches or part-time/sessional/guest artists within large institutions and many feel left out of the conversation about acting training in Canada. In the wake of #MeToo and #TimesUp, it’s time to come together and speak about our challenges. Got Your Back has recognized a void in this communication and is trying to bridge the gap through a curated selection of panels, workshops, long table discussions, and networking events . . . Together, we can continue to evolve acting training to be more diverse, inclusive and safer for the next generation of artists. (GYB, “Acting”)
9 CHRC and Canadian Heritage are rolling out Phase Two of the campaign currently. It is “a first for any industry in the country: Trained facilitators (12 Anglophone and 6 Francophone) are available to present a three-hour workshop based on the principles of the Respectful Workplaces in the Arts program. The workshops are being offered free of charge between September 2019 and March 2020” (PACT, “Maintaining Respectful Workplaces”).
10 See the Canada Council for the Arts’ “Equity Policy” for more information.
11 Instances of cultural insensitivity and appropriation include: the use of blackface at the Théâtre du Rideau Vert in November 2014; the commandeering of slave songs by Betty Bonifassi and Robert LePage with SLĀV for the Montreal Jazz Festival in 2018; and LePage’s Kanata, about relations between Canada’s Indigenous peoples and colonial settlers but which did not involve Indigenous people, prompting protests and cries of nihil de nobis, sine nobis (nothing about us without us). Artists in the community, such as Rahul Varma, Artistic Director of Montreal’s Teesri Duniya Theatre, finds these actions indicative of colonial and racist perspectives linked to identity and funding:
These repeat occurrences of cultural appropriation are undeniably intertwined within the cultural politics of Quebec, which dismisses egalitarian multiculturalism in favor of a Quebec brand of interculturalism. At its core, it demands acclimatization of marginalized cultures to the taste of dominant culture, which includes reformation of identity, values, and ideologies.
Interculturalism without equality is assimilation, which is made possible by disproportionate (inferior) access to resources afforded to artists of color throughout the country. Cultural appropriation is an inevitable outcome of systematic racism which still exists. (“Featured Member”)
The Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec (CALQ) has been accused of such racism, as in 2017, given the disproportionate cutting and freezing of funds for racialized arts organizations in Montreal (“Minority Arts”).
12 Vancouver’s Fringe has “committed to making equity, diversity, and inclusion a priority,” and to this end, the Fringe conducted an EDI audit (completed in January 2018); hired an equity, diversity and inclusion director; and implemented a new EDI program responsible for the Fringe Forward Award (“Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion”).
13 The accounting included theatres (but not festivals) of all shapes, sizes, and geographic regions. The sample sizes for the various seasons were as follows: for 2012/13, 177 companies that produced a total of 646 shows; in 2013/14, 183 companies, which presented 812 productions; in 2014/15, 219 companies that staged 668 works; in 2015/16, 220 theatres producing 769 shows; in 2016/17, 246 companies that delivered 804 productions; in 2017/18, 294 theatres, which staged 961 shows; and in 2018/19, 258 companies presenting 1002 productions (PGC, Surveys 2012/13–2018/19).
14 As of September 2019, the gender breakdown of PGC’s membership was 44.2 percent men, 54.2 percent women, 0.9 percent non-binary, 0.4 percent trans, and 0.3 percent unknown (PGC, “September Report”).
15 Another departure from previous years is that the 5 percent increase in women’s work is directly related to a 5 percent decrease in work by men, whereas in the previous five seasons, any gains women made were reflected in decreases in productions by mixed gender partnerships (PGC, Survey 2017/18).
16 The figures for men fell 4 percent for all play productions and 5 percent for Canadian authored work, being redistributed into mixed-gender partnerships (PGC, Survey, 2018/19).
17 A total of 3,156 surveys, representing 56 percent of CAEA’s membership, were completed by regular and life members in good standing between April 24 and May 25, 2015 (McQueen 18).
18 To cite an example, during the Next Stage Theatre Festival in January 2017, the Toronto Fringe partnered with Generator on an Urgent Exchange community conversation called “The White Guy Shuffle—Changing Hiring Practices in Canadian Theatre” (“Event”).
Ahearn, Victoria. “Chris Craddock, Canadian Playwright, Apologizes after Admitting he Touched Women without Permission.” Global News, 20 October 2017. https://globalnews.ca/news/3817135/chris-craddock/.
Arts Nova Scotia. “Policies and Reports.” Arts Nova Scotia website, 2019. https://artsns.ca/about/policies-and-reports.
“Breaking News—Cobourg’s Artistic and Creative Consultant Facing Several Criminal Charges.” Today’s Northumberland website, 2018. https://www.todaysnorthumberland.ca/2019/09/12/breaking-news-cobourgs-artistic-and-creative-consultant-facing-several-criminal-charges/?fbclid=IwAR1YSuGOwESrFnPXR2B_SkGoWvbelpM9INMthhqfWSSs7bvNO18UoNyOVr0.
British Columbia Arts Council. “Priorities.” British Columbia Arts Council website, 2019. https://www.bcartscouncil.ca/priorities/.
Burton, Rebecca. Adding It Up: The Status of Women in Canadian Theatre—A Report on the Phase One Findings of Equity in Canadian Theatre: The Women’s Initiative. 2006.
———. “Adding It Up: (En)Gendering (and Racializing) Canadian Theatre.” alt.theatre: Cultural Diversity and the Stage 5:1 (2007), 7.
Canada Council for the Arts. Equity Policy. CCA, April 2017.
Canadian Actor’ Equity Association. “Not in Our Space!” CAEA website, https://www.caea.com/Features/Not-In-Our-Space.
———. The Equity Census: Staging the Future—Executive Summary. 9 November 2015. https://www.caea.com/Portals/0/Documents/Features/Equity%20Census/EquityCensusRPT-ExecSummary.pdf.
Conseil des arts de Montréal. “4 Strategic Priorities from Now to 2020.” CAM, 2017. https://www.artsmontreal.org/media/docs/CAM_orientations_EN.pdf.
Cultural Human Resources Council. https://www.culturalhrc.ca/.
“CultureBrew.Art.” Visceral Visions, 2019. https://culturebrew.art/.
“DAM Presents Proposals for Cultural Equity.” Conseil des arts de Montréal, 31 May 2019.
“Equity Diversity, and Inclusion at the Fringe.” Vancouver Fringe Festival website. http://www.vancouverfringe.com/edi/.
“Event: #UrgentExchange—The White Guy Shuffle—Chanigng Hiring Practices in Canadian Theatre, Toronto Fringe & Generator.” Toronto Alliance for the Performing Arts website. https://tapa.ca/event-urgentexchange-the-white-guy-shuffle-changing-hiring-practices-in-canadian-theatre-toronto-fringe-generator/.
“Everybody Counts.” Equity Quarterly (Spring 2015): 13–16.
Faulder, Lian. “Sterling Awards Launch New Format for 2018-19 Theatre Nominations.” Edmonton Journal, 4 June 2019. https://edmontonjournal.com/entertainment/theatre/sterling-awards-launch-new-format-for-2018-19-theatre-nominations.
“Featured Member—Rahul Varma.” Medium, 16 July 2018. https://medium.com/@pgc/featured-member-rahul-varma-dfe198a9d6cf.
Fraticelli, Rena. The Status of Women in the Canadian Theatre: A Report Prepared for the Status of Women Canada. June 1982. Unpublished.
Got Your Back. “Acting Educators Conference.” https://gotyourbackcanada.com/2019/05/07/acting-training-conference/.
———. “Connect.” https://gotyourbackcanada.com/2019/05/07/contact-us/.
Jessies. “Special Awards.” The Jessie Awards. https://www.jessieawards.com/special-awards.
Lederman, Marsha. “Bob Baker Ousted from Canadian Actors’ Equity Association.” Globe and Mail, 14 September 2019. https://www.theglobeandmail.com/arts/theatre-and-performance/article-bob-baker-ousted-from-canadian-actors-equity-association/.
Lushington, Kate. “Notes towards the Diagnosis of a Curable Malaise—Fear of Feminism.” Canadian Theatre Review 43 (Summer 1985): 5–11.
MacArthur, Michelle. Achieving Equity in Canadian Theatre: A Report with Best Practice Recommendations. Equity in Theatre, April 2015. www.equityintheatre.com/achieving-equity-canadian-theatre.
McQueen, Lynn. “The Equity Census: Our Ground-breaking Demographic Survey.” Equity Quarterly (Fall 2015): 18–20.
“Minister Rodriguez Announces Reappointment of Director of Canada Council for the Arts.” Cision (News provided by Canadian Heritage), 4 March 2019. https://www.newswire.ca/news-releases/minister-rodriguez-announces-reappointment-of-director-of-canada-council-for-the-arts-825376363.html.
“Minority Arts Organizations Denounce Systemic Racism in Quebec Cultural Funding.” Centre for Research Action on Race Relations. http://www.crarr.org/?q=node/19920.
Montreal English Theatre Awards. “Honorary Awards.” META website, 2017.
“Not in Our Space!” CAEA website. https://www.caea.com/Features/Not-In-Our-Space.
“Not in Our Space! Campaign.” Equity Quarterly (Spring/Summer 2017): 6–9.
Ontario Arts Council. “Equity Plan.” OAC website https://www.arts.on.ca/access-equity/equity-plan.
“Our Mandate.” Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada. http://www.trc.ca/about-us/our-mandate.html.
Professional Association of Canadian Theatres. “Announcing All In: A National Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Initiative for Canada’s Theatre Sector.” PACT, 26 September 2016. https://pact.ca/announcing-all-in-a-national-equity-diversity-inclusion-initiative-for-canadas-theatre-sector/.
———. “Maintaining Respectful Workplaces.” PACT News, 11 September 2019.
———. “Our Members—Affiliates.” PACT website. https://pact.ca/community-networks/our-members/#1487367424467-eecb283e-d1ad.
———. “Our Members—Regular and Commercial Members.” PACT website. https://pact.ca/community-networks/our-members/#1487367424467-eecb283e-d1ad.
———. “Pledge Project.” PACT website. https://pact.ca/initiatives/pledge-project/
Playwrights Guild of Canada. PGC Annual Theatre Production Survey, 2012/13. http://playwrightsguild.ca/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/2012_13-Theatre-Survey-Charts.pdf.
———. PGC Annual Theatre Production Survey, 2013/14. http://playwrightsguild.ca/wp-
———. PGC Annual Theatre Production Survey, 2014/15. https://playwrightsguild.ca/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/PGC-Annual-Theatre-Production-Survey-2014-15.pdf.
———. PGC Annual Theatre Production Survey, 2015/16. https://playwrightsguild.ca/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/PGC-Annual-Theatre-Production-Survey-2015-16.pdf.
———. PGC Annual Theatre Production Survey, 2016/17. http://playwrightsguild.ca/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/PGC-Annual-Theatre-Production-Survey-2016-17-FINAL.pdf.
———. PGC Annual Theatre Production Survey, 2017/18. http://playwrightsguild.ca/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/PGC-Annual-Theatre-Production-Survey-2017-18.pdf.
———. PGC Annual Theatre Production Survey, 2018/19. http://playwrightsguild.ca/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/PGC-Annual-Theatre-Production-Survey-2018-19.pdf.
———. “September 2019 Membership Report.” Internal document.
Toronto Alliance of Performing Arts. “Announcement: Gender-Neutral Performance Awards for 40th Anniversary, Dora Mavor Moore Awards.” TAPA, 2019. https://tapa.ca/announcement-gender-neutral-performance-awards-40th-anniversary-dora-mavor-moore-awards/.
Toronto Arts Council. “Equity and Access.” TAC website. https://torontoartscouncil.org/about-us/equity-and-access.
———. “Toronto Arts Council Equity Framework.” TAC website. https://torontoartscouncil.org/reports-and-resources/toronto-arts-council-equity-framework.
Vancouver Fringe. “Fringe Awards Night.” Vancouver Fringe Festival 2019 website.