The Professional Association of Canadian Theatres (PACT) is launching a major, highly collaborative program focused on increasing equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI) throughout Canada's theatre sector - called All In: A National Equity, Diversity & Inclusive Initiative.
This capacity development program is unique to Canada's professional arts ecology, in that it promotes a Social Justice framework that gives equal importance to the barriers and inequities experienced by all equity-seeking communities, and offers-up multi-versal world views from which we can all learn about and from each other's different cultures, customs and norms.
"While we've been working on this initiative behind the scenes for a while now, the program's public launch comes at a timely moment in Canadian theatre history - when equity, diversity and inclusion has become a mobilizing force in the zeitgeist of national cultural conversation," notes PACT Board President Jay Dodge. "All In will help provide our sector with the EDI tools needed to be leaders in this important area."
The ultimate objective of All In 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 believes strongly that, in all EDI work, it is vital that the equity-seeking arts community be reciprocally involved," asserts Sara Meurling, PACT's Executive Director. "This is why our national EDI initiative has been developed through extensive consultation with the Indigenous Performing Arts Alliance, ADHOC Assembly, and The Deaf, Disability & Mad Arts Alliance of Canada - theatre associations that specifically advocate for equity, diversity and inclusion in the arts."
Also key to the success of this initiative has been PACT's collaboration with municipal and provincial theatre associations including Theatre Nova Scotia, Theatre Ontario, the Toronto Alliance for the Performing Arts, Theatre Alberta, and the Greater Vancouver Professional Theatre Alliance. These associations came together in January with the Board of Directors of PACT to pilot an adopted EDI framework and training method through an introductory EDI capacity development training session. There was a wholehearted commitment by all to continue with this approach as part of a larger national initiative.
PACT, in collaboration with the Toronto Alliance for the Performing Arts and Theatre Ontario, presented another pilot workshop in July to assess the efficacy of the training and to begin participation of Toronto cohort members. Participating in July were representatives from a variety of theatre companies including Black Theatre Workshop, Buddies in Bad Times, Cahoots Theatre, Canadian Stage Company, Necessary Angel Theatre, the Randolph Academy, Shaw Festival, Soulpepper, the Stratford Festival, Tarragon Theatre, the Theatre Centre, Young People's Theatre as well as funder and community organizations such as the Associated Designers of Canada, Canadian Actors' Equity Association, Playwrights Guild of Canada, the Canada Council for the Arts, the Ontario Arts Council, the Toronto Alliance for the Performing Arts, Theatre Ontario, the Toronto Arts Council and the Metcalf Foundation.
Building on the success of the first two pilots, PACT is proud to fully launch the All In program with EDI capacity development training in regions across Canada in collaboration with local cohort leaders. This is Phase I of what one of the participants describes as "a truly unique, highly impactful national arts equity initiative."
PACT gratefully acknowledges the support of the Canada Council for the Arts and the Ontario Arts Council in making Phase One of All In: A National Equity, Diversity & Inclusive Initiative.
Founded in 1979, the Professional Association of Canadian Theatres is a member-driven organization of professional Canadian theatres which serves as the collective voice of its members. For the betterment of Canadian theatre, PACT provides leadership, national representation and a variety of programs and practical assistance to member companies, enabling members to do their own creative work. PACT's Strategic Plan 2015-2018 includes a renewed commitment to openness, inclusion and transparency and a desire to ensure collaboration with the larger national theatre community.