Since about March 10 or so, the pressure to move and create and respond at the speed and precision of white supremacy culture has been more prevalent than ever before. I have sometimes been able to fight it, even actively name it, but I have more often than not complied with its demands and asked others around me to do the same. I am disgusted with myself and uncomfortable. Good.
Theatre Alberta is a predominantly white institution, that serves members who are also predominantly white. I want and need to acknowledge the labour and expertise of our Board, Staff, and General Members of Colour who HOLD IT DOWN while surrounded by white folx and our artistic problems. I know it is exhausting for them, and yet, they generously and patiently teach and teach again, because… at Theatre Alberta, we love helping theatre people solve their theatre problems. It is, ideally, how we spend the majority of our time.
The theatre community has some new problems ahead due to various and substantial changes in how we can produce and share theatre, and in how theatre and theatre artists will be adequately funded and paid. But right now predominantly white theatre companies and artists are being called in and called out to stop and immediately acknowledge and attend to the systemic racism, anti-Blackness, and many other oppressions and human rights violations we actively participate in when we produce and teach/learn about theatre. Because Black Lives Matter. Racism has been a public health issue for much longer than COVID-19, it just never stopped us from producing, but perhaps it should now.
Please don’t misunderstand me. I love theatre, I love theatre in Alberta and those who create it, and I will continue to fight for its survival alongside an incredible team. But Theatre Alberta and our members must centre and amplify the needs and desires of Black, Indigenous, and POC communities—including their artists and arts organizations. We need to do this right now, and we must continue to do so in perpetuity. We can all do this while advocating for our industry, as long as people historically excluded from and hurt by it are the greatest beneficiaries of this advocacy, and by their own account.
Please watch Malindi Ayienga, a young Black artist from Toronto, speak truth to power. Watch the whole 21 minutes. Pay attention to what’s difficult to hear or understand and investigate that further for yourself, and talk to other white people about it.
Please learn more about the characteristics of white supremacy culture, how its embedded in our lives and in our work, by Tema Okun via Dismantling Racism.
Please stay tuned for more information.
Please continue providing feedback and asking questions.
Operations & Partnerships Coordinator
Julia van Dam
Office & Memberships Coordinator
Communications & Marketing Coordinator