The following is written by TITC founder Emily Dix, but has been edited and approved by members of the Toronto Independent Theatre Coalition.
These past few months have been turbulent and artists are feeling the strain. From cancelled gigs to lost venues, major shifts in leadership, calls for accountability and difficult but necessary conversations about racism and discrimination, each day can feel exhausting and sometimes bleak. But now is not the time to give up. Now is the time to come together, acknowledge the problems in our industry, and take the time to fix them.
Because Toronto theatre needs a change.
We live in a city where more than 50% of our citizens are deemed “minorities”, yet when you look to theatre companies, the artists are overwhelmingly white. This is something we struggle with at the TITC.
While the TITC values diversity and wants to encourage it among its members, something about the way we’ve done this isn’t working. When looking at our current Company Member leaders, one thing immediately stands out; we too are overwhelmingly white. This is something that needs to change.
The past few weeks I have posted some “artist spotlights” on Instagram in hopes of amplifying the voices of our diverse peers, but a problem with that has been pointed out to me; it’s still really my voice. I am sharing their stories but I am the one behind them, which isn’t enough. We need real engagement from other members of our community so that we can form a coalition that is truly representative of Toronto indie artists. One that can help support people from all walks of life, and celebrate the variety, diversity and talent of our community.
But I’ll admit, I don’t really know how to start.
So we are asking for help.
At the bottom of this letter you will find a link to an anonymous survey. It asks about what you like and dislike, want and need out of your indie theatre community. We need honest answers so that we can move forward in the right way. Please take a few moments to fill it out.
To progress and grow the TITC needs to create a board, but to do that we first need to better engage with our community, and be sure that we have a diverse group of company members, and then a board that reflects that diversity.
We have a lot of exciting plans for the future of this coalition, but for a moment, we are going to press pause.
We are taking the time to actively focus on becoming a more diverse group.
In two weeks, all current members will meet to review and discuss the results of this survey. From there, hopefully, we will have a better understanding of how to best move forward.
If you are comfortable, I encourage you to reach out to me directly with questions, comments, concerns or suggestions - you can reach me at email@example.com. As well, if you are interested in becoming a board member, please let me know. We are looking for people who are passionate about Toronto indie theatre, but past that there are no specific qualifications. We want people from all walks of life to help make sure all voices are being heard.
Our social media is going to be quiet for a while, but we haven’t gone away.
We are taking some time to listen, and learn, and hope that you will in turn share with us how we can make you feel welcome in joining our community.
We’ll be back soon and we hope you’ll join us.
And members of the Toronto Independent Theatre Coalition