Over the past number of weeks, we as a company have been reflecting on how we can better serve the artists we work with and our community as a whole. We recognize that we, like many other organizations right now, have a lot of work to do in order to create and foster an environment in which artists of vulnerable communities feel safe and supported not only through the rehearsal process, but in their entire experience. With the discussions surrounding the blatant racism, discrimination, and prejudice towards the BIPOC community echoing the necessity for change, we’ve been brainstorming ways in which can be more supportive to all artists while putting a focus on diversity in the forefront of our minds going forward.
Our goal as a company is to create a safe and healthy environment for all who are involved, and we recognize that we need to do more to ensure that Theatre Insomnia is and remains a safe, welcoming space. We know that fostering a good relationship with BIPOC artists will take time, and is something which, going forward, we must put a conscientious focus on. With this in mind, we have decided to make the following changes within our company:
We will ensure BIPOC characters are cast with BIPOC performers to ensure representation is accurate and authentic. Additionally, we will be putting forth a greater effort to reach out to BIPOC artists for all of our auditions and interview opportunities. Every audition call, interview or other opportunity put forth to the community will encourage a diverse group of applicants, and we will ensure that diversity is reflected in the hiring process for every single project we do going forward.
We are currently in the process of building a network of professional consultants who will work closely with us on all future projects from inception to completion. These professionals are experts in different fields, from social workers to therapists, each with a focus on a different area of mental health. This diverse group will work with us to improve not only how we explore and discuss mental health and other difficult topics through our work, but also how we can structure our creative processes in order to best support and meet the needs of the artists we work with.
We are actively working to bring more BIPOC representation to our core team in order to allow us a diverse group of artists whose different lived experiences we can draw from.
We are putting a strong emphasis on our zero tolerance policy against any sort of harassment, racism, or discrimination. Any instance of these acts by any company member or contracted artist at any point shall lead to immediate dismissal, with absolutely no exceptions.
We will continue to send out an detailed anonymous survey to all artists at the end of a project in order to get their feedback on the process and the ways in which we as a company can improve. We will then ensure this feedback is reviewed and implemented wherever possible in order to continuously improve and grow as a company.
This is just the beginning. As a newer company, we hope to help manifest a more welcoming, diverse, and supportive space for artists, and to be a part of the ongoing discussions and growth in Toronto’s vibrant arts community. We are on the precipice of long-overdue change and we want to ensure we lead by example as our community strives to change for the better.
We hope over time to gain the trust of BIPOC artists and patrons. We want to do better, and that starts with affirmative action. These are only the first steps Theatre Insomnia will take to combat issues of diversity and inclusion in the theatre community. We encourage you to join us in our growth and learning to become better, more proactive allies. There is a lot of work to be done, and we promise to put forth a greater effort.
As a company who puts focus on mental health, we want to recognize that this can be a difficult conversation to have with yourself, and may leave you feeling anxious, depressed, and/or overwhelmed. First and foremost, we want to remind you that that’s okay. Part of understanding one’s own relationship towards race, racism, and discrimination involves understanding the complex feelings surrounding the topic. Although this often leads to uncomfortability, and can at times feel overwhelming, we encourage you to continue being a part of this very necessary conversation. Even when it’s uncomfortable, we must learn to overcome these emotions in order to further the discussions regarding race and intersectionality within our community and the world as a whole. We are all responsible for ensuring equality, compassion, and respect are shown to one another at all times, with absolutely no exception.
With all this said, we are pleased to announce the return of our Artists at Home: Keeping Busy During Quarantine series this week, beginning on July 6th with a special episode featuring a discussion on proactive allyship and further clarification on our long-term commitment to solidarity with the BIPOC community. Over the past few weeks, we have taken additional measures to ensure that this series features a diverse group of artists and represents a broad spectrum of lived experiences, and we look forward to sharing these conversations with you in the coming weeks.
The Theatre Insomnia Team