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#MondayMorningMuse: EIT

Posted By Theatre, Women

Happy Monday, everybody! We wanted to start this week off by acknowledging an important initiative taking place for Canadian Theatre right now called Equity In Theatre or EIT. Instead of profiling an individual this morning, we’ve decided to highlight the motivating research behind EIT’s vital action plan. The below description of who EIT is and what they do has been taken directly from their report, prepared by Dr. Michelle MacArthur, which can be found here in its entirety. The findings of this report are both eye-opening and severe. Continued awareness, support and action are needed for the current inequities in theatre to be rectified – and one of the first steps towards this, we think, is understanding that they exist.

“Equity in Theatre (EIT) was launched in 2014 with the goal of redressing and remedying existent gender inequities in the Canadian theatre industry. Led by Rebecca Burton, Playwrights Guild of Canada’s (PGC) Membership and Contracts Manager, and Laine Zisman Newman, Dramaturgical Associate with Pat the Dog Theatre Creation, EIT has three main objectives:

1) to foster and facilitate dialogue (locally, provincially, nationally, and internationally);

2) to generate greater awareness of and exposure to Canadian women playwrights;

3) to develop community-based action plans to help rectify industry imbalances.

EIT is meeting these objectives via a multi-pronged and inclusive response that involves the community as a whole: artists, administrators, stakeholders, and audiences. PGC has partnered with the sector’s key professional associations, such as the Associated Designers of Canada (ADC), the Canadian Actors Equity Association (CAEA), the Literary Managers and Dramaturgs Association (LMDA) of Canada, and the Professional Association of Canadian Theatres (PACT). They have joined forces with the nation’s Play Development Centres, most notably Kitchener’s Pat the Dog and Vancouver’s Playwrights Theatre Centre, and have allied with associations of the underrepresented, such as Artists Driving Holistic Organizational Change (the Ad Hoc Assembly), Cultural Pluralism in the Arts Movement Ontario (CPAMO), and the Indigenous Performing Arts Alliance (IPAA). A member of each of the above organizations sits on the EIT Steering Committee. EIT is also partnering with individual artists, theatre companies, schools, audiences, and other interested parties. The initiative’s success is predicated on the collaboration and commitment of the Canadian theatre community.

 Equity in Theatre involves four major components: the research study presented here, a symposium, a website dedicated to Canadian women in theatre, and live events, including play reading and community actions. Funded in part by the Ontario Arts Council, and as the first step in this process, the preparatory research study analyzes past equity initiatives and related follow-up actions at home and abroad, in theatre and elsewhere, providing the means to create a series of recommendations and best practices that will serve as a foundational framework as EIT moves forward. This will ensure that organizers do not repeat past mistakes or waste time “reinventing the wheel,” but rather capitalize on successful gains, thus maximizing their impact.

 The second component of EIT is a one-day Symposium that will be held in Toronto on April 27, 2015, facilitated by Context Consulting, equity and diversity consultants, and supported by the Canada Council and its Leadership for Change program. The event will involve a keynote panel, intimate discussions, open forum brainstorming sessions, and the identification of social actions to help bring about change. The end result of the Symposium will be the development of a first draft strategic plan document for improved equity in the theatre industry as a whole. International theatre practitioners will convene the next day, on April 28, 2015, for a follow-up event to discuss the issues and strategieson a larger scale.

 Thanks to funding from the Ontario Trillium Foundation, the third prong of the project is an EIT website (http://www.eit.playwrightsguild.ca) that will act as an informational hub. The website will provide details about EIT, offer an open forum for continued discussion and conversation, and feature links to relevant articles, studies, activities, and international organizations. The website will house a Calendar of Events, listing productions of plays by women and social actions taking place across the country, as well as a searchable database of Canadian women artists, providing an accessible resource for the larger community. It will also facilitate Meet-Up Groups to see plays, provide advice on how to create community actions, and coordinate national activities.

The final aspect of the EIT project will be carried-out in the year(s) following the Symposium to maintain the momentum and discussion. This first component is a series of monthly play reading events to be held across the country, partnering with Play Development Centres and other organizations. These will take different forms (playwrights reading their own work, actor readings, collaborative events, open mic nights, etc.), depending on the region, and will be for open and/or invited audiences such as artistic directors. The second component involves community events and grassroots actions, which will be developed as the project matures and is implemented across the nation.”

Achieving Equity in Canadian Theatre: A Report with Best Practice Recommendations
Prepared by Dr. Michelle MacArthur

Our hope is that the above snippet – especially if you’re an arts worker – has inspired you to delve further into Equity In Theatre’s initiative by working with them (and us) to remedy the problem at hand! Be sure to check out the full report, spread the word and get involved; all great ways to kick off a new week, if you ask us. 🙂