Tuesday, April 05, 2016

diversity initiatives

In our ongoing attempt to increase inclusivity in our work, we have put together some diversity initiatives and values for our company moving forward. This is an ongoing conversation, and we expect and hope that they will change and grow as we continue to learn. A major portion of our current initiative includes opening the doors and extending an invitation to artists of colour who share a commitment to our mission, mandate, and values. If you feel this includes you then please get in touch! 

Pacific Theatre was established in 1984 by a group of actors who believed their experiences, culture, values, beliefs and questions were not well represented on Canadian stages. We set out to establish a non-propagandist professional theatre where we would be free to explore work having particular meaning to us as Christians – specifically, by producing and showcasing theatre that rigorously explores the spiritual aspects of human experience.

Within that mandate, it is essential that our work be inclusive, and we are increasingly aware that one important expression of that core value of inclusivity is for the theatre we produce and showcase to reflect the racial diversity of our community. This has been a constant conversation at Pacific Theatre for the past year or more, and we have begun to take a number of steps toward grow in that area.

Immediate Practical Steps Toward Greater Diversity

We are proactively seeking out theatre artists of colour who share a commitment to our purpose and values, to draw them into the life of our company (play readings and development, workshops, apprenticeship, etc), to hire them in all aspects of our mainstage productions, and to showcase their work in Guest Productions in our mainstage season.

When a Pacific Theatre production involves an audition process, we will ensure that actors of colour are invited to audition – particularly when a given play represents a particular cultural experience or expression, or would benefit from a specific cultural sensitivity or awareness.

We will also expand our practice of using non-white actors in roles where race is not specified, and intentionally casting actors of colour in roles which might otherwise be thought of as “white” – our casting of an African-American woman as Prime Minister Mackenzie King would be an example.

Any actor who submits a headshot and resume throughout the season will be seen at our general auditions.

If you identify as an actor, designer or director of colour, and would like to be considered by Pacific Theatre, please contact Operations Manager Cara Cunningham.

We are seeking playwrights of varied cultural backgrounds to create work which engages with the company’s mission, mandate and aesthetics. We are also interested in mandate-related works with culturally diverse characters, or which reflect other cultural realities. As we find projects of interest, we will invite writers into our play development project (“Working With”) or seek resources for new play commissions, as appropriate.

Company artists have also been tasked with searching for existing works that fulfill the intentions described above.

If you know of scripts which fit with this initiative, or if you are a playwright whose work might do so, please contact Artistic Director Ron Reed.

We particularly value diversity in various leadership roles within our company, while recognizing that for these functions, an authentic commitment to our mission and mandate is particularly critical.

We will continue to actively recruit board members and artist advisors representing diverse cultures. We will seek and cultivate directors of colour, and increasingly find ways to build diversity into our administrative and production staff, including our management staff.

An Organic Process Informed by Our Core Values

Our insistence on relational integrity means that we have a high degree of loyalty to artists who have made common cause with us, for whom Pacific Theatre has become an artistic home, often because they have a strong connection with our mission and purpose. We create our art from a sense of community, and the change we are striving for will not come about by violating our commitment to the community that has grown organically around our work, but by intentionally drawing an increasingly diverse array of like-minded artists into that community.

Since our inception, Pacific Theatre has been a work-in-progress, an ongoing experiment to find out what it means for artists of faith to create work expressing that core commitment. Similarly, these initiatives to increase the racial diversity of our company are also a work-in-progress: some ideas will work well and be fruitful, while others won’t be as effective or practical. We will continually be looking for other ways to achieve these goals which haven’t occurred to us yet. But we recognize that these changes are important – in fact, that they are another expression of our mandate and mission – and we will continue to find ways to bring them about.

If you have any questions, concerns, or suggestions regarding our diversity initiatives as a whole, please contact our Director of Marketing and Publicity, Andrea Loewen.

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