About

a commitment to action

July 23, 2020

As the Artistic Director and Executive Director of the Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre, we believe we have a profound responsibility as theatre makers to reckon with racial injustice, and to advance equity in society. Theatre is a powerful tool for social change. It fosters empathy, understanding and builds human connection. It also allows us to engage in difficult conversations.

This summer, we have been listening to the voices of IBPOC (Indigenous, Black and People of Colour) artists in the theatre community, both nationally and locally, as they reveal uncomfortable truths about our sector. We recognize the emotional labour involved in these conversations, and we are deeply grateful to these artists for sharing the reality of their lived experience.

As Canada’s oldest English-speaking regional theatre, we acknowledge that MTC has benefitted from colonial structures and the systemic racism that exists in our society.  Since its founding, MTC has been a predominantly white-led institution, which has created inherent barriers for IBPOC communities who don’t feel welcome in our organization. We deeply apologize for the harm this has caused, and we commit to actively participating in the change required in our sector to address systemic racism.

Today, we commit to making transformative change; to repair and reimagine MTC’s relationships with our community; and to build bridges with those who have been historically excluded or underserved by our theatre.

With the support of our Board of Trustees, we will develop an Equity, Diversity, Inclusion and Anti-Racism Action Plan, a necessary first step to ensure that MTC will truly represent and reflect all Manitobans, and be a safe place for all who engage in theatre here.

Through this process we will:

  • Scrutinize our working conditions and hiring practices. We will facilitate an organizational audit on our work culture – backstage, onstage, in our facilities, and with our full- and part-time staff – to identify and eliminate the barriers that have perpetuated a dominant white culture in our organization.
  • Expand our commitment to Equity, Diversity, Inclusion (EDI) and Anti-Racism. We will engage consultants to lead and support the long-term work of ensuring a safe and respectful work environment for all, and to develop and deliver training in equity, diversity, inclusion, unconscious bias, anti-oppression, and anti-racism with our staff and Board. We will dedicate necessary resources to provide cultural competency support for our creative teams. Our Board of Trustees will prioritize IBPOC and other diverse candidates in our nominating process and ensure barriers are removed, and reflect EDI and Anti-Racism commitments in all ongoing Strategic Plans.
  • Commit to making Royal MTC a safe space. We will ensure that our artists and staff, consultants, contractors and volunteers can work, create and participate in a safe space. We will work with our associations and unions to ensure EDI and anti-racism policies protect IBPOC artists engaged at MTC. We will review our internal human resources policies and procedures and ensure that third-party reporting mechanisms are in place.
  • Invest in and dedicate resources to IBPOC artists. Through programming, commissions, training and professional development, we will use our facilities, resources and opportunities to promote IBPOC artists, creators, craftspeople and leaders. We will create a mentorship program to partner mentors from across Canada with local IBPOC artists; host a Residency Program, prioritizing IBPOC and other diverse artists; and we will promote narratives by, for and about diverse communities.
  • Eliminate barriers to engagement. We will embrace relationships with IBPOC-led community organizations and businesses to spark new connections, and to expand the breadth and accessibility of our work. We will undertake an accessibility review to identify and dismantle barriers to ensure that our facilities, processes and programming are welcoming and reflective of all.
  • Commit to transparency and accountability in our anti-racism and EDI work. Our work will be ongoing and will evolve; we will publish updates, reports and plans on our website, and provide contact information to reach our senior leadership. This work is urgent, but we also need to take time to listen and learn. We will make mistakes, but we will make corrections. 

With the full support of our Board of Trustees, we are committed to instill anti-racist practices throughout our theatre and activities, including the Winnipeg Fringe. We will strive to be better allies and to leave this organization stronger, safer, more inclusive and representative of the community we live in; with our stages and audience filled with new faces, joining those who have enjoyed our theatre for many years; and with a Board, staff and leadership that values inclusivity as a true measure of success.
 
We are deeply grateful to work on Treaty 1 land, the traditional territory of the Ininew, Anishinaabe, Dene and Dakota peoples, and the traditional territory and homeland of the M├ętis Nation, and to begin the necessary work to create a more equitable future for all.

Sincerely,

Kelly Thornton, Artistic Director             Camilla Holland, Executive Director
kthornton@royalmtc.ca                          cholland@royalmtc.ca

The Board of Trustees of the Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre supports the leadership of our Artistic Director and Executive Director, and commits to work with them on the actions ahead. The Chair of the Board of Trustees, John Guttormson, can be reached via board@royalmtc.ca