To the co-contributors of 35//50: thank you for calling on us and our fellow arts organizations to uphold this movement. We are proud to support the principles of the 35//50 Initiative.
The 35//50 Initiative is a coalition of Indigenous, Black, and People of Colour (IBPoC) across the Alberta artistic community who believe in representation as an actionable plan. This initiative calls on arts organizations to more equitably reflect the civic landscape across our professional landscape by providing quality opportunities to a minimum 35% IBPoC and 50% women and gender minorities in paid, professional positions.
The future of theatre in Treaty 6 is equitable, diverse, inclusive, and accessible. Representation onstage, backstage, in the Front of House and Box Office, in our administrative spaces, and in our Volunteer, mentorship, and training programs matters. We believe representation within our organization will lead to greater equity, diversity, inclusivity, and accessibility in our community.
As a theatre community, we have work to do to get there. The path forward requires commitment from cornerstone organizations like Fringe Theatre.
We stand with our community to help build a cultural scene that includes and represents IBPoC, women, and people within gender minority communities. We commit to the ongoing learning and unlearning, change, and community engagement necessary to achieve this goal.
WHO WE ARE
Fringe Theatre is a community hub for artistic activity in Edmonton. We are a community of more than 3,000 Artists, arts workers, and arts supporters including:
- A Volunteer Board of 15;
- A year-round full-time administrative Staff of around 20;
- A year-round part-time/casual Staff of 50;
- A Festival summer Staff of 200;
- A Festival Artist community of 1,600;
- A Volunteer community of 1,000;
- A year-round home for more than 500 community arts events;
- A platform for more than 200 Fringe Festival shows; and
- A meeting place for more than 500,000 fringers who attend the Festival every August.
In support of our commitment toward more equitably reflecting our community in our organization, Fringe Theatre is:
Continually evolving our Safer Spaces Program, including:
- Reviewing and updating our year-round Safer Spaces program and reporting tools as we learn and consult with our communities;
- Expanding our Safer Spaces committee during the Festival season to ensure more equitable and diverse representation and more robust capacity to better serve our community;
- Deepening our relationships with organizations like the Sexual Assault Centre of Edmonton (SACE) to improve our processes and broaden our resources; and
- Continuing to develop Fringe Learn, our online learning platform, in collaboration with Kick Point, the Sexual Assault Centre of Edmonton (SACE), and PowerED(TM) at Athabasca University to deliver Safer Spaces courses to Fringe Theatre Staff, Volunteers, Festival Artists, and other Fringe Festivals and arts organizations. This includes offering Fringe-developed courses like Creating a Consent Culture, Consent in Context, and Anti-Racism 101.
Continually evolving our Anti-Racism Commitment, including:
- Providing ongoing Anti-Oppression training facilitated by the Alberta Public Interest Research Group (APIRG) and Safer Spaces training facilitated by SACE to Board, Staff, Artists, and Volunteers;
- Providing accessible administrative, human resources, mentorship, space, and platform to marginalized (including IBPoC and 2SLGBTQIA+) Artists and arts workers;
- Reviewing internal procedures and processes to ensure equitable hiring practices, including actively seeking out IBPoC people to fill available roles, particularly roles in positions of power, within our organization;
- Reviewing policies and procedures to ensure equitable recruitment, training, and retention processes in all areas of our organization;
- Reviewing Festival and Season procedures to ensure IBPoC, women, and gender minority people are being actively engaged, subsidized, supported, and provided equitable opportunity;
Continually evolving our inclusion practices, including:
- Engaging with and learning from representatives with lived experience from the Deaf, disabled, and Mad communities;
- Expanding on our Inclusion Program (launched in 2018) to include a more holistic accessibility approach that ensures fringers – Staff, Artists, Volunteers, and Patrons – of all abilities are provided meaningful opportunity to engage with and enjoy Fringe;
- Providing designated sensory spaces and tool kits for Festival Staff, Volunteers, and Artists during Festival;
- Providing two gender inclusive washroom banks in our Studio Theatre and Backstage Theatre spaces;
- Providing free gender pins at all Box Office spaces in our building and during the Festival;
- Collaborating with community supports to develop a “Bring Your Own Venue” (BYoV) venue accessibility checklist to ensure producers are responsible for venue audits, and to help us better communicate BYoV accessibility information with patrons;
- Making Hearing Assist t-coil loop hearing systems available in all Fringe Theatre Arts Barns theatres;
- Expanding our Relaxed Performance offerings during season and Festival, and working closely with Artists to better deliver a Relaxed Performance experience;
- Reserving a minimum of 25% of the house for each Fringe Theatre Season performance for our Offer What You Will Program, where patrons may offer any dollar amount they’re able to contribute or offer other non-monetary ways of showing respect and mutual investment, such as tobacco, your own art, or a donation you feel the artist(s) will benefit from. No one will be turned away; and
- Provide a minimum of two ASL Interpreted performances for all Fringe Theatre Season shows, and whenever possible, support ASL Interpretation for Festival performances.
Continually evolving our Indigenous Theatre Program, including:
- Hiring Fringe’s inaugural Indigenous Director;
- Honouring and nurturing our relationships with Elders, Knowledge Keepers, and Leaders in the Indigenous community;
- Identifying opportunities to elevate Indigenous art and Artists, including nurturing the growth of pêhonân, Fringe’s performance incubator that provides Indigenous Artists of all disciplines the opportunity to create, experiment, produce, present, and tour;
- Continuing the ongoing and patient process of Indigenizing and decolonizing Fringe Theatre’s programming and processes while prioritizing community building and care;
- Implementing the strategic plan written by Josh Languedoc as part of his role with Fringe Theatre as our Director, Indigenous Strategic Planning, including an Indigenous-led strategy for organizational transformation within our organization and our sector in the next 5 – 10 years;
- Continuing to and dismantle barriers to access and gaps in our organizational knowledge with the support of Indigenous Elders, Knowledge Keepers, and Leaders;
- Hosting ongoing Staff training on Indigenous culture and history;
- Hosting Indigenous led ceremonies as part of our Festival and Season; and
- Bringing Indigenous-led conversation and models for cross-cultural collaboration into the centre of our work, and actively inviting all stakeholders to come together to listen and learn.
Expanding our existing Equity Festival Lottery Category, including:
- Nurturing the growth of pêhonân to expand artistic offerings across the Festival and Season experience, well beyond the limitations of colonial theatre traditions and embrace cultural diversity theatre models including de-standardized show times and show schedules, latecomers welcome, relaxed performance etc. We will consult with and compensate marginalized Artists in the continued creation of this practice.
Maintaining the Fringe Theatre Arts Barns as a Community Hub that invites local Artists to:
- Get comfy: hop on the wifi, grab a coffee and something to eat, find a comfortable place to sit and work on any upcoming play/song/grant/proposal/pitch etc. until it’s done;
- Gather: invite collaborators around a table to jam;
- Host: hold board meetings, planning meetings, or take-over-the-world meetings;
- Create: book last minute rehearsal space and put ideas on their feet (or wheels or bums or noses or…);
- Work: get paperwork printed for free;
- Ask: pick the brains of any of our staff about best practices, next steps, wild ideas (almost all of us are active creators outside of our administrative roles, and every one of us loves to share ideas);
- Challenge the status quo: lead or facilitate or participate in brave conversations, especially the kind that challenge the status quo; and
- See a show: Offer What You Will tickets are available to any Fringe Theatre season performance.
Nurturing the ongoing development of our Community Care Program, including:
- Continuing to support the sustainable growth of this service-based program comprised of Staff and Volunteers using harm reduction approaches to community crisis response and community empowerment;
- Continuing to support unhoused and vulnerable community members who may access various community supports in the immediate vicinity of the Fringe Theatre Arts Barns and Fringe Theatre Festival grounds who are often displaces from their regular use of public spaces by Festival activity;
- Continuing to collaborate with and learn from community partners who lead this important work, like Boyle Street Community Services, Bissell Centre, The Mustard Seed, Youth Empowerment and Support Services, Old Strathcona Youth Society, and more; and
- Evolving how Fringe’s Safer Spaces, Accessibility, Inclusion, Community Care, Security, and First Aid teams collaborate and support a welcoming, safe artistic experience where everyone is welcome.
Collaborating with industry partners and sharing resources, including:
- Participating in, contributing to, and implementing actions from the Professional Association of Canadian Theatre and Theatre Alberta’s equity, diversity, and inclusion initiatives; and
- Working with the Canadian Association of Fringe Festivals to improve equity, diversity, and inclusion across the North American Fringe circuit.
Fringe Theatre is a channel to the greater theatre community. For many, Fringe Theatre is a first: a first job, a first production, a first foray into theatre arts. We honour our role in supporting so many creators’ firsts. We exist because theatre exists. We believe in mentoring Artists and fostering their careers at all stages.
We aim to provide opportunity to at least 35% IBPoC and 50% women or non-binary people in paid, professional positions by the 2025 season. The work is ongoing, and we commit to continuing that work. We will listen, we will learn, we will change. We will show up and do better. Our thanks to our community for their support in this work.
Questions? Comments? Conversation starters? Please email us at email@example.com and we will connect you with the right staff member.