COMMUNITY UPDATE #3 – July 2, 2021
On May 5, 2021, Rainbow Stage posted our Community Update #2.5. These updates are an initiative through which we share with the community the work we are doing to make our organization more transparent and accountable, as we foster growth within our company that promotes diversity, inclusivity, and equity in Rainbow Stage’s operations and programming.
In that update we announced the retirement of our previous Executive Director and the hiring of our new Executive Director, as well as the addition of six new members and the creation of a Director Emeritus position on our Board of Directors. We also updated the community on our two spring outreach initiatives, the MB Micro-Musical Project for Students and our first-ever digital concert, Resilience.
In our previous update we announced that our Executive Director, Julie Eccles would be retiring and that our new Executive Director would be Andrea Pratt McDowell. Andrea officially took over the position at the beginning of May and has completed her anti-racism/anti-oppression training sessions with Guided Conversations Canada.
Over the past two months, Andrea has been learning the ropes and getting her bearings. All of us at Rainbow Stage are amazed at the progress Andrea has made in such a short time. Andrea’s passion, humour, and energy are completely infectious, and we can already tell that our organization is in great hands as we follow the yellow brick road to our future.
BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Also in our previous update, we announced six new appointments to Rainbow Stage’s Board of Directors: Amanda Dowbenko, Spencer Duncanson, Glenn Fleetwood, Joy Lazo, Dené Sinclair, and Tracy Snowden.
We are delighted to share that the Rainbow Stage Board of Directors has created a new ad hoc Marketing & Communications Committee as of May 2021. The committee’s role is to provide advice to the Executive Director and Artistic Director in relation to marketing strategy, organizational messaging, brand standards, and any other marketing and communications requirements that may occasionally arise.
As a first step, the committee has identified 3 areas of priority to work on over the next year:
- Update the strategy for invested marketing opportunities and partnerships;
- Create a storytelling calendar to share project successes with our audiences;
- Prioritize stakeholder engagement and issues management in future strategic planning.
We have moved our target date for completing our next strategic plan to the fall of 2021.
There were several factors that led to this decision including:
- The desire for this planning to be led by the new Executive Director, and to give her and the new members of our Board of Directors the time needed to familiarize themselves with the organization’s past and present, as well as the goals for our future;
- The desire to increase staff input in the process as we have several new staff members since the creation of the last strategic plan, and a need to redefine our staff structure and duties given the many recent changes;
- The need for more time to further develop recent initiatives such as new works and digital programming, in order to create a path for them that is impactful and long-lasting;
- A strong desire by all involved to be able to do this important work in person.
Our website has undergone many changes over these past months, with the aim to better communicate how one can get involved at every level of Rainbow Stage.
Under the Work With Us tab, there are now new online forms under Education and Productions that anyone can fill out to express who they are, and how they would like to get involved. We want to hear from you! Or, if you know of someone else who’s always dreamt of working with Rainbow Stage, please share these links with them. These tabs are where we will also be posting paid positions as they become available, so check back often or subscribe to our newsletter to be the first to know about opportunities.
Under our About Us tab, you can check out our new pages that provide more information about our board, board committees, and how one can express interest in serving. Also under this tab is a Volunteer tab. If you are interested in volunteering at our shows or for our Education & Outreach programs please visit this page and fill out our Volunteer Form.
Our Education & Outreach tab was also updated and all pages have been reconstructed to be as uniform as possible, adding more general info and FAQs to each page, as well as straightforward ways to ask questions and to submit interest in participating. For transparency, we are also now including how each education and professional training program is supported.
Further, a reminder that our Professional Development and Training email list was recently updated. Those on this list will be receiving direct emails from us when we announce programs and opportunities for the community such as our Free Community Dance Classes and Workshops, our paid Actor’s Intensive and paid Professional Mentorship Program. To be added to this list please email firstname.lastname@example.org
Rainbow Stage is passionately committed to developing artists and artisans through accessible and inclusive professional training opportunities. Our Professional Mentorship Program offers developing and emerging artists an opportunity to apply and participate in a variety of free and/or paid professional development positions within our productions. We have decided to move the relaunch of this program and its webpage to our next update. We will certainly have it ready to go for next year as we look forward to returning to full-scale musical production. In the meantime, if you are interested in participating, you can let us know by filling out the forms listed above so can we can start to get to know you!
In our Community Update #2, we wrote about how complicated the audition process can be and recognized that it can be intimidating. To help clarify how things work, we have updated our Auditions page and Auditions FAQ.
We are also planning an Auditions Workshop where we will delve into the world of auditioning at Rainbow Stage and address topics such as:
- Equity (Canadian Actors Equity Association), Non-Equity;
- Children’s Chorus, Child Performers, and Community Members;
- Contracts, Fee Structures, Remittances, and Taxes;
- Changes in the new CTA (Canadian Theatre Agreement under which we operate);
- Expectations and best practices for submitting an application, audition protocols, and how to leave your audition knowing you did your best.
We plan to host this in-person workshop in September 2021. We will be asking for questions in advance, so even if you are unable to attend, you can still get your questions answered! We are also planning to record the event and create an explainer video to post on our website and share with the community-at-large so that everyone gets the same, correct, up-to-date information at the same time, and it is always accessible for reviewing.
We are also currently planning for the return of our General Auditions. We are expanding our General Auditions so that we can see and meet more emerging artists. We are committed to reaching out to new communities. If you’d like to help us in these efforts, please send an email to email@example.com and indicate who you are or what group you are working with, so we can build up our distribution list for this annual event. We are currently planning for this to occur in September 2021. We have also begun discussing ways that we can bring our General Auditions and Auditions Workshops to rural communities in Manitoba.
EDUCATION & OUTREACH PROGRAMMING
As you may have seen recently, we are planning to run Camp Rainbow this summer with a reduced capacity and in accordance with Provincial Public Health Orders as they progress. This year, thanks to the generous support of The Winnipeg Foundation and the Winnipeg Kinsmen, we have reserved double the amount of subsidized spots for under-privileged and at-risk youth. We are excited to expand our list of partnering organizations and groups to help with these efforts. If you know of, or work for an organization, agency, or group that could be a good fit, please email firstname.lastname@example.org to help us provide more opportunities and remove barriers-to-access.
FREE COMMUNITY CLASSES & WORKSHOPS
We are currently planning for the return of our Free Community Classes and Workshops program this fall, thanks to the generous support of the Thomas Sill Foundation. The recent Provincial Public Health Orders have presented us with some challenges, so we are revising our plans once again before we make any further announcements.
As for this year’s content, we are looking at a variety of free classes and workshops for the community in the areas of Broadway Choreo, Jazz, Contemporary, Hip-Hop, Improv, Auditioning, and Career Management. All levels of experience and ability will be welcome to register.
Developing new work provides our organization with the greatest opportunity to amplify under-represented voices, tell stories that reflect the diversity of Manitoba, and innovate the musical theatre art form.
Development of Ma-Buhay! Filipinos Singing for Their Lives is back underway! For this round of action, author Joseph Sevillo is partnering up with dramaturg/orchestrator Joseph Aragon to create draft 3 of the script, with matching piano/vocal score and demo tracks. Once completed, Rainbow Stage will be hosting a public reading and sing-through. We are aiming to host this in-person event later this summer, once Provincial Public Health Orders allow us to do so. Stay tuned!
Also in development is the creation of a webpage for the musical, where we will share the story of its creation, the journey so far, acknowledge its generous supporters, as well as share some of the exciting things to come for the musical in the near future. We are aiming to have this webpage completed by the public presentation, or at the latest, our next community update.
TAKING THE LEAD: A CREATIVE TEAM DEVELOPMENT CAMP
We are currently planning to offer this new, free program for late teens and recent high-school graduates who have a keen interest in the musical theatre arts as a career. The program is designed to be a full week of fun and exploration into the roles of Director, Choreographer, and Music Director, in order to foster the development of future leaders in our theatre and in our community.
Thanks to the generous support of the Thomas Sill Foundation and in partnership with the Seven Oaks School Division, we aim to launch this new program at the end of the summer, and are thrilled to be hosted by the Seven Oaks Performing Arts Centre. The recent Provincial Public Health Orders announcement has presented us with some challenges, so we are revisiting our plans one more time before we make any further announcements.
We’d like to send a Rainbow-sized thank-you to the Manitoba Arts Council for their support through their Organizational Resilience grant program, through which we outlined the digital programming we have envisioned and the equipment we would need to get started. We have begun purchasing the equipment and developing the programming, which we are aiming to begin rolling out in the late fall. We have also applied for additional funding to employ as many artists and arts workers as possible through these efforts. Although we are in the early stages, our programming breaks down into four main components:
- 1 digital concert for Valentine’s Day 2022;
- 6 monthly episodes of ‘Rainbow Rhythms’ that feature artist and community spotlights, community news and opportunities, and behind the scenes news at Rainbow Stage;
- 6 monthly podcasts that promote healthy and productive conversations that address complex topics in areas that are affecting the theatre community and Rainbow Stage;
- 6 monthly free professional training workshop videos/livestreams.
NEXT COMMUNITY UPDATE
Rainbow Stage will be sharing its next community update by October 29, 2021, the end of our fiscal year, and one year to the date of our very first community update.
Rainbow Stage is currently going through a major transformation and we expect this process to take several years. We have enjoyed sharing with you the many positive changes that have happened over this past year, but the best is truly yet to come. Thank you for your patience, understanding, and encouragement as we do this incredibly important work, and take the time we need to do it right.
COMMUNITY UPDATE 2.5 – May 5, 2021
On January 29, 2021, Rainbow Stage posted our Community Update #2. These updates are an initiative through which we share with the community the work we are doing to make our organization more transparent and accountable, as we foster growth within our company that promotes diversity, inclusivity, and equity in Rainbow Stage’s operations and programming.
Our second update followed up on our Anti-Racism/Anti-Oppression Training, Strategic Planning, Communications, Productions and New Initiatives and continued our commitment to report on our progress and outline next steps through a third update on or before June 30, 2021. We look forward to sharing that update in June, but in the meantime, we want to share some specific updates.
ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING
On April 28, 2021, Rainbow Stage held its Annual General Meeting for the fiscal year of November 1, 2019 – October 31, 2020. At this meeting, Rainbow Stage welcomed a new Executive Director, six new members to the Board of Directors, and created a Director Emeritus position.
JULIE ECCLES “Re-Inspirement”
After 11 years with Rainbow Stage, our Executive Director, Julie Eccles, has made the decision to move on to a new chapter of her life as she takes the path towards her retirement or as she has put it, her ‘re-inspirement’. The job posting for the position was made public on January 25, 2021 and we are excited to announce that a new Executive Director has been chosen.
ANDREA PRATT MCDOWELL, Executive Director, Rainbow Stage
Andrea Pratt McDowell is a fundraising, strategic engagement and leadership professional, with over 24 years of experience working with not-for-profit organizations in Winnipeg. With a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Manitoba, her passion for community engagement has taken her career across the arts, international development and health-charity sectors. Some of Andrea’s previous work experiences include: Regional Executive Director, Prairie Region (Cystic Fibrosis Canada); Community Engagement Manager (UNICEF); and Associate Producer (Winnipeg International Children’s Festival).
Andrea’s love of the arts, particularly musical theatre, began at a young age when her parents took her annually to Rainbow Stage. She now shares this family tradition and love with her young daughter. Andrea is driven by a desire to build meaningful and inclusive partnerships. She shares Rainbow Stage’s belief that communities are enriched by art, and she will continue to celebrate, cultivate and preserve the arts for future generations. Andrea is excited to expand her professional development by joining the team at Rainbow Stage. Andrea will be participating in Guided Conversations Towards Reconciliation, Anti-Oppression, and Social Justice Strategies training sessions with Guided Conversations Canada.
BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Six new members have been formally elected to the Board of Directors for their first terms as Directors at Large.
Rainbow Stages is pleased to welcome AMANDA DOWBENKO (Business and Financial Lead, Digital Health/Shared Health Manitoba), SPENCER DUNCANSON (Founder/Artistic Director, The Little Opera Company), GLENN FLEETWOOD (CFO, Southern Chiefs’ Organization), JOY LAZO (artist, arts educator, community leader), DENÉ SINCLAIR (Owner, Beendigay Marketing & Consulting), and TRACY SNOWDON (CFO, IDC Communications). All bring their unique perspectives and love of musical theatre to the organization and we could not be more happy that they agreed to share their time and expertise. To learn more about our Board of Directors, board committees, and opportunities to get involved, please click here.
The Board of Directors has established a Director Emeritus position on the board to recognize and honour members who have contributed to Rainbow Stage in an extraordinary manner. Long time board member and Rainbow Stage Wall of Fame recipient, Campbell McIntyre, has stepped down from Directors at Large and has been named Director Emeritus. Campbell McIntyre received the Theatre Champion Award at the 2020 Evie Awards. The following words were shared at the ceremony: “Theatre is more than a passion for Campbell McIntyre – it is part of his DNA. The McIntyre family, led by Campbell, has supported Rainbow Stage as loyal patrons, hard-working volunteers, generous donors, committed board members, and tireless fundraisers for over four decades”. Campbell’s wish that “everyone might have the opportunity to experience a magical night under the stars” continues to come true every summer.
A Director Emeritus may participate in board meetings, however, will not participate in voting on motions.
MANITOBA MICRO-MUSICAL PROJECT
The Manitoba Micro-Musical Project for Students is a new, free program for teachers and students across Manitoba to safely create their own micro-musical with resources and support from Rainbow Stage and professional local artists. Launched in February, Rainbow Stage has been providing guidance to participants through Zoom support sessions, instructional videos, and resource documents.
We are thrilled to see the reach and impact this program is having in its first year. There are approximately 18 registered participants to date, who represent a mosaic of urban, rural, and homeschools. We are very inspired by the creativity we are seeing in all the various projects in development, and are looking forward to sharing more in our next update. The project will close on May 28, but we are already thinking of how to enhance this program for 2022! To learn more about this new program or to register, click here.
RESILIENCE: A DIGITAL CONCERT CELEBRATING HOPE, POSSIBILITY AND PERSEVERANCE
Rainbow Stage partnered with DASCH Inc (Direct Action in Support of Community Homes) to create a short digital concert which debuted at the DASCH Foundation’s Possibilities Gala on April 23, 2021. The concert was then shared with our Community Support Program partners and is currently available for free public viewing until May 10, 2021. To watch the concert please click here.
This project was a first of its kind for Rainbow Stage and we are so happy with the results. Our aim was to uplift and stay connected with our Community Support Program partners and the community-at-large by providing a free spring concert that celebrates our shared values of hope, possibility, and perseverance. We invite you to watch the concert and hope that it lifts your spirits!
COMMUNITY UPDATE #2 – JANUARY 29, 2021
On October 31, 2020 Rainbow Stage posted our Community Update #1. These updates are a new initiative through which we share with the community the work we are doing to make our organization more transparent and accountable, as we foster growth within our company that promotes diversity, inclusivity, and equity in Rainbow Stage’s operations and programming.
Our first update outlined our initial actions, along with a commitment to report on our progress and outline next steps through a second update on or before January 31, 2021. This is that second update.
On Nov. 1, 2020, we began a new fiscal year. Rainbow Stage remains resilient and committed to our stated goals in the face of external challenges. Due to the impacts of COVID-19, necessary restructuring required us to say good-bye to some key staff whom we miss very much. Current staff have been adjusting to the new workload from home as we do our part to limit the spread of the virus. Although it has been a challenging few months, there have been many enlightenments, and we are preparing for the eventual and safe return of our artists, crew, and audiences under the dome.
In our previous update we committed to having our Board of Directors and staff participate in Anti-Oppression/Anti-Racism training by the end of 2020.
Rainbow Stage sends a heart-felt thank you to Guided Conversations Canada for leading us through their Guided Conversations Towards Reconciliation, Anti-Oppression, and Social Justice Strategies.
The entirety of our board and staff were led through three sessions which occurred on November 19, 26 and December 3, 2020. The sessions gave us an in-depth review of the history of colonization in Canada, new knowledge through insightful handouts and resources, and fostered fruitful discussions that illustrated the need for continuous education and action. We are committed to doing this work.
The impact of this training has already been felt in our day-to-day work and we look forward to its impact on the implementation of new initiatives, the development of our existing programming, and most importantly, the creation of our organization’s next strategic plan.
We are looking forward to exploring and creating a new strategic plan for Rainbow Stage in 2021. Since the adoption of our previous strategic plan there have been many changes to our staff and board, our education and professional training programming continues to grow and thrive, new works have entered the landscape, and the COVID-19 era has thrust us into the new world of digital media and the opportunities it brings.
We have begun to list items that require revisiting and discussion. The preliminary list includes:
- Revisiting our company Vision, Mission and Core Values to ensure they encompass the principles of equity, inclusivity, and diversity, and that they reflect what we have learned from our anti-oppression/anti-racism training and consultation;
- Revisiting our Inclusive Casting Statement and expanding it beyond casting to include all aspects of the company;
- Building our audience to better reflect the diversity of Manitoba, including developing strategies to welcome under-represented groups and new Canadians;
- Incorporating a new Strategic Fund Development Plan to support growth and new initiatives;
- Removing barriers-to-access (informational, economical, and geographical) within our Education and Outreach programming;
- Improving the accessibility of our programming and spaces – both physical and digital.
We desire to do this important work in person. Due to COVID-19, the target date for the completion of our next strategic plan has been adjusted to May 28, 2021.
Our website is undergoing a significant renovation to better communicate how groups who are under-represented in our industry can get involved at every level of Rainbow Stage, including volunteering, auditions, professional training, education and outreach programming, as well as our board and board committees. As we work to expand our outreach, efforts are being made to make information easy to find by making each webpage as uniform as possible, adding more general info and FAQs to each page, as well as straightforward ways to ask questions and to submit interest in participating. For transparency, we are also including how each education and professional training program is funded.
In our previous update, we committed to identifying barriers to IBPOC and other equity-seeking groups that bar access to our organization at the board level. We remain committed to prioritizing the recruitment of new directors and community members that better represent the diverse Manitoba community we serve. Currently, there are two vacant positions on our Board of Directors and we are actively recruiting new directors with experience in the areas of governance and production.
A new page on our website has been created to provide more information about our board, board committees, and how one can express interest in serving. To visit this new page, please click here.
Over the next couple of weeks, updates to our Work With Us webpages will be complete. These updates will include an online form for those who wish to express interest in instructing or assisting in our Education and Outreach programs, as well as an online form for those who wish to express interest in positions in production, including but not limited to our creative, stage management, design, and production teams.
To improve our connectivity and communications, our Professional Development and Training email list was recently updated. Those on this list will be receiving direct emails from us when we announce programs and opportunities for the community such as our Free Community Dance Classes and Workshops, our paid Actor’s Intensive and paid Professional Mentorship Program. To be added to this list please email email@example.com
We remain committed to improving our outreach to under-represented communities as we invest in the next generation of artists and artisans. We are currently revisiting and updating our Professional Mentorship Program and aim to relaunch its webpage by our next update. This program offers developing and emerging artists an opportunity to apply or participate in a variety of free and/or paid professional development positions within our productions. We will also be including an online form where individuals can share their interest, their experience, and indicate what areas of theatre they have the most interest in; onstage or backstage. Rainbow Stage celebrates excellence in all aspects of theatre making and this program is designed to develop that excellence through accessible and affordable professional training for our local artists.
Due to COVID-19, we are still in a holding pattern regarding a season announcement and what will be possible at the stage in terms of productions, education, and other activities. Please stay tuned.
Auditioning for a professional theatre can be complicated. Between Equity, Non-Equity, Children’s Chorus, Child Performers and Community Members, there are certainly a lot of questions as to how things work. To begin addressing these questions, we have updated the Auditions page on our website, including a revised FAQ. Very recently, a new CTA (Canadian Theatre Agreement) was ratified by both PACT (Professional Association of Canadian Theatres) and Equity (Canadian Actors Equity Association). The CTA is an agreement that outlines the terms and conditions which we must adhere to when employing Directors, Choreographers, Actors, and Stage Management. We are currently discussing how Rainbow Stage can host online opportunities to review significant changes and facilitate discussions and questions from the community. There is a place for everyone at Rainbow Stage, and we want to empower artists to understand how we operate under this agreement.
Developing new work provides our organization with the greatest opportunity to amplify under-represented voices, tell stories that reflect the diversity of Manitoba, and innovate the musical theatre art form. Development of Ma-Buhay! Filipinos Singing for Their Lives is set to resume in February. One of our next steps for the project will be to create a webpage for the musical where we will share the story of its creation, acknowledge its generous supporters, as well as offer a sneak peek at future activities.
We are excited to announce several new initiatives!
We have conceptualized a new digital platform that will foster diversity, inclusion, community connection, conversation, professional development opportunities, and the sharing of musical theatre-related activities and events to as many Manitobans as possible. Our goal is to launch this platform before our next update. Please stay tuned for more details and announcements.
Announcing… the Manitoba Micro-Musical Project for Students! This is a new, free program for teachers and students across Manitoba to safely create their own micro-musical with resources and support from Rainbow Stage and professional local artists. Beginning in February, Rainbow Stage will provide guidance through Zoom support sessions, instructional videos, and foster connectivity between teachers and students across the province. To learn more about this new program, click here
Rainbow Stage is partnering with DASCH Inc (Direct Action in Support of Community Homes) to create a digital concert debuting at the DASCH Foundation’s Possibilities Gala on April 23, 2021. It will then be shared with our Community Support Program partners and the community-at-large. Our aim is to provide our partners and the community with a free spring concert celebrating and fostering our shared values of possibility, perseverance, hope and resilience.
After 11 years with Rainbow Stage, our Executive Director, Julie Eccles, has made the decision to move on to a new chapter of her life as she takes the path toward her retirement or as she has put it, her ‘re-inspirement’. The job posting for the position was made public on January 25, 2021 and the new Executive Director is to begin their work on or before April, 2021. For those interested in viewing or sharing the posting, click here.
We are so excited to share that the City of Winnipeg has made a significant financial commitment to assist us with funding an ambitious revitalization of Rainbow Stage in Kildonan Park. We are in the initial planning stages of how to build on this commitment to fully re-imagine what our facility can be in the 21st Century! The vision for this necessary endeavor encompasses:
- The centralization of our operations (administration, auditions, rehearsals, education);
- The building of an all-season rehearsal hall/second playing space;
- The renovation of some existing spaces for all-season activity and accessibility;
- The development of year-round programming (education, outreach, and new work);
- The exploration of practices that will foster and promote environmental stewardship.
NEXT COMMUNITY UPDATE
Rainbow Stage will be sharing its next community update by June 30, 2021. We will report on the progress of all the actions stated in this update, as well as outline our next steps moving forward.
Rainbow Stage was born out of the community, for the community. We are committed to the removal of any barriers-to-access that surround our organization in order to bring the joy of theatre, music, and dance to as many Manitobans as possible.
We look forward to updating the community on our progress and to continue setting valuable goals as we build a solid foundation upon which our company can grow, flourish, and provide opportunity.
COMMUNITY UPDATE #1 – OCTOBER 31, 2020
On September 25, 2020, Rainbow Stage posted a “Statement Against Racism” that resulted in understandable anger and hurt in our community. We are very appreciative of all the letters, emails, phone calls and meetings that have since occurred. We would like to thank the community for believing in us enough to share their thoughts and feelings and to help us move forward in a positive and less harmful way.
Between September 25-27, we reached out to the Professional Association of Canadian Theatre’s (PACT) leadership and received valuable support, resources and wisdom. We identified how Rainbow Stage failed to acknowledge past racist behaviour, failed to seek proper consultation from PACT and IBPOC community members on creating our statement – which resulted in the use of hurtful language – and failed to show an adequate plan to move forward. It was agreed that the first course of action was to post an apology and then remove the initial statement from our website.
Our apology was posted on September 27. The apology also outlined our next steps, which were to post a community update on or before October 31 outlining our plans for anti-oppression and anti-racism training, other actions we have taken over the past month and specific plans for moving forward. This is that update.
ANTI OPPRESSION, ANTI-RACISM TRAINING
On October 5, Rainbow Stage’s leadership (Board Chair, Board Vice-Chair, Executive Director, Artistic Director and Assistant Executive Director) met with PACT’s leadership (Board President, Board Vice President and Executive Director) for consultation and guidance on next steps and future actions.
PACT provided Rainbow Stage with a list of training consultants to consider, with all of us agreeing that hiring a consultant with lived experience on Treaty One territory and a connection to the Winnipeg theatre community would be ideal.
Rainbow Stage also received recommendations for training consultants from several of our PACT theatre members and members of the theatre community. Over the past month, the recommendations were compiled, researched, and discussed. Thank you to each and every one of you who sent us your recommendations.
Rainbow Stage’s Board of Directors and staff are excited to be working with Guided Conversations Canada and their Guided Conversations Towards Reconciliation, Anti-Oppression & Social Justice Strategies. We are currently finalizing the scheduling for three sessions to occur in November and December.
Additionally, on October 21, Rainbow Stage’s Artistic Director, Carson Nattrass, began one-on-one sessions with Seraph-Eden Boroditsky (Guided Conversations Canada) to begin his own personal journey to educate himself about reconciliation, anti-racism, active allyship, and to begin repairing his relationship with the theatre community.
BOARD and BOARD COMMITTEES
Representation on our Board of Directors has been identified as one of the most impactful actions Rainbow Stage can take.
With two spots currently open on our Board, and some Directors nearing the end of their terms, our Board is committed to prioritizing the recruitment of new Directors that better represent the diverse Manitoba community that we serve. Moving forward, we will accomplish this recruitment by identifying barriers to IBPOC and other equity-seeking groups that bar access to our organization at the board level and ensuring we continually strive to make our board and organization open, welcoming and safe to every member of our community.
By our next update, we commit to updating our Board of Directors page on our website. This update will better explain the role of our Governance Board, what areas of expertise are desired to improve our board and how one can submit interest in joining our board. We will also list our Board Committees, their role and how one can submit interest in joining them. Board committee work is an effective way to get involved with the company and have an immediate impact on current and future initiatives.
The purpose of strategic planning is to set overall goals for the organization and to develop a plan to achieve them. It involves stepping back from our day-to-day operations, asking where we are headed and what our priorities should be.
In our next update we will share the details of our plans to review and update our strategic plan. With appropriate consultation and guidance in place, our aim is for our next strategic plan to incorporate new initiatives and clear goals that will foster a more diverse and inclusive company on and off the stage. The target date for completing our revised strategic plan is March 26, 2021.
Our Artistic Director continues to meet one-on-one with members of the Rainbow Stage community (alumni, patrons, donors, partners) who have expressed their anger, pain and disappointment directly or indirectly. He has been speaking with industry leaders across the country to share Rainbow Stage’s mistakes and to discuss the work that is happening in other regions and how to build a healthier organization and healthier relationships moving forward.
By our next community update, we will be updating our website to better communicate how groups who are under-represented in our industry can get involved at every level of Rainbow Stage, including Auditions, Professional Training and Education and Outreach programming, as well as identifying barriers and clarifying how these programs function and are supported.
Rainbow Stage is also currently exploring the world of livestream and podcast media. Rainbow Stage intends to develop a series of podcasts, interviews, and educational initiatives to foster important and difficult conversations that exist in our industry, amplify the voices of IBPOC and other equity-seeking groups in our community, provide more accessible professional development opportunities and promote more community sharing and engagement.
QUESTIONS & CONCERNS FROM OUR INITIAL STATEMENT
Many questions and concerns were raised as a result of our initial statement and we thank the community for sharing these with us. Our community’s feedback is necessary and appreciated.
It has been recommended to us that before we begin addressing these questions and concerns publicly, we first complete our Anti-Oppression and Social Justice Strategy workshops and subsequent consultations.
We have been compiling these questions and concerns into a living document, reflecting on them and aim to discuss them thoroughly and act on them within our training and consultancy. Following that, we will address them through future community updates, our actions and the implementation of new initiatives.
NEXT COMMUNITY UPDATE
Rainbow Stage will be sharing its next community update by January 31, 2021. Our aim is to report on the results and impact of our anti-racism/anti-oppression training, update on the progress with our Board and Board Committee recruitment, update on other actions taken and outline our next steps moving forward.
Rainbow Stage was born out of the community, for the community. We are committed to providing transparency to and agency for the community we serve.
Apology From Rainbow Stage
Re: Our Statement Against Racism in the Theatre
Rainbow Stage deeply apologizes for the pain our statement against racism has caused in the community. We recognize the impact the statement has had is one of disappointment and damage. Thank you for reaching out to us through letters, emails, and phone calls to inform us of our mistakes. We take responsibility and are committed to correcting them.
In our statement, we failed to recognize past and present racist behaviour. We apologize for the racism, racial caricatures, tokenism, cultural misrepresentation, and cultural appropriation that has existed on our stage and behind the scenes. We acknowledge the hurt this has caused members of the Indigenous community, the Black community and all People of Colour (the IBPOC community) over the last 66 years and we are committed to ensuring actions and decisions like these never occur within our organization again.
In our desire to communicate how committed and excited we are about developing new works as a part of our programming, the words we chose were hurtful. We are grateful to our community for communicating how words such as ‘non-traditional programming’, ‘measured risks’, and others are injurious and dangerous. We did not understand this, but now recognize that using out-dated phrases like these make IBPOC members feel othered, devalued, and excluded. We take responsibility for this and will ensure that the words we choose when we communicate speak to the equality and equity we seek to create in our company.
We did not properly consult with members of the IBPOC community or the Professional Association of Canadian Theatres (PACT) on our statement. This was an egregious oversight and we deeply regret not taking the crucial steps to educate ourselves prior to speaking on this most important issue. The Rainbow Stage family deserves a revised statement that includes meaningful consultation. This revised statement will address specific plans to diversify our board and administration, our education, outreach and professional development initiatives, and the art we present on our stage.
Rainbow Stage will announce the details of anti-oppression training for our board and staff on or before October 31st, following consultation with PACT and its members. Further, we will commit to releasing a plan for moving forward at that time.
Thank you for caring for us, sharing your feelings, and offering thoughtful advice so that we may correct our mistakes and begin the process of healing. We sincerely ask for forgiveness from our community; especially those individuals and communities we have directly impacted. Rainbow Stage is fully committed to learning, addressing essential change and being the strongest ally we can to ensure that transformation happens within our company.
With gratitude and deepest respect,
The Executive Committee of the Board of Rainbow Stage
Julie Eccles, Executive Director
Carson Nattrass, Artistic Director