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