Jun 8 2020
Dearest theatre community,
There are endless messages of supposed solidarity. But I would like to put my paycheque where my mouth is.
Canadian theatre needs to change. I can say this until I am blue in the face or I can take action. As a mixed race Asian woman who possesses race privilege, I choose the latter. I will be slowly transitioning out of my position as artistic director in the hopes that this will encourage more Black and Indigenous folks to take leadership positions in arts organizations.
Of course, I am not the one who will make the final decision as to who will fill this position but jeez, I am so damn excited to see where this company will go in their capable hands.
I want to be clear: The company would not be doing any favours by having someone from those communities lead it into the future, nor is my action a charitable gesture. Black and Indigenous people deserve a seat at the table and a place on our stages because they have so much to offer. I know that whoever is the future AD will have a wealth of experience, skills and enthusiasm I could never offer.
To my fellow ADs across this country, I hope you ask yourself these same questions I asked myself late last week, while watching the hard work of resilience around the world. “What wondrous things can be accomplished if I allow Black and Indigenous people to hold a position of power?” “If I love my company, if I love theatre, what things can be created when they are not hindered by my own privilege and biases?” “If my biases are in the way of progress, then what can be accomplished if I step aside?”
At this time, we are uncertain what this transition will look like yet. We want to ensure this person is set up for success and that the changeover is kind. I want to thank the few racialized leaders and artists who helped me during my time at b current. They were generous to me in my most uncertain times, especially after my mother’s sudden death in my first year of leadership. I want to offer that same level of support to my successor in whatever ways they want to be supported.
Leading b current since 2017 was a dream come true because I graduated from an abusive and racist theatre school believing my voice as a brown woman did not matter. It has been an honour guiding Black and brown diasporic artists through decolonized theatre training but I know my successor is going to do so much better than I could have ever imagined.
What a glorious time for change!
(Pictured above: General Manager Rosey Edeh and Outgoing Artistic Director Catherine Hernandez)