To the co-contributors of 35//50 YEG: thank you. Thank you for calling on us and our fellow arts organizations to uphold this movement. This is a gift to our local community.
We are proud to support the principles of the 35//50 Initiative.
Representation matters. Representation onstage, backstage, in the Front of House and Box Office, in our administrative spaces, and in our mentorship and training programs matters. The future of theatre in Treaty 6 is equitable, diverse, inclusive, and accessible. 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. We will help build a cultural scene that includes and represents IBPoC, women, and nonbinary people. We commit to the ongoing learning and unlearning, change, and community engagement necessary to achieve this goal.
WHERE WE’RE AT
Fringe Theatre is a community hub for artistic activity in Edmonton. In a normal year (that is, in a year not affected by the hiring impacts of COVID-19), we are a community of more than 3,000 artists, arts workers, and arts supporters, and 800,000 patrons including:
- A volunteer board of 11;
- A year-round full-time administrative staff of 17;
- A year-round part-time/casual staff of 30;
- A Festival summer staff of 300;
- A Festival artist community of 1,600;
- A volunteer community of 1,200;
- A home for more than 500 community arts events between the months of September and June;
- A home for more than 250 Fringe Festival performances; and
- A meeting place for more than 800,000 fringers who attend the Festival every August.
WHERE WE’RE GOING
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 evolving our Safer Spaces program and reporting tools as we learn and consult with our communities;
- Expanding our Safer Spaces committee during Festival season to ensure more equitable and diverse representation and more robust capacity on the committee to better serve our community;
- Working with organizations like the Sexual Assault Sentre of Edmonton (SACE) and Sexual Violence Advocacy and Accountability Network (SVAAN) to improve our processes;
- Implementing a Safer Spaces First Response team for Festival 2021; and
- Developing and launching an online learning platform in collaboration with Kick Point and the Sexual Assault Centre of Edmonton (SACE), and PowerED(TM) at Athabasca University to deliver Safer Spaces courses to Fringe Theatre staff, volunteers, and festival artists and producers, with a goal of making the courses widely available to Fringe Festivals, arts organizations, and SACE audiences by 2022.
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, and volunteers;
- Providing a free Anti-Oppression and Safer Spaces Workshop Series to the local theatre community. Please click here to join our Community Workshop Series mailing list;
- Providing accessible administrative, human resources, mentorship, space, and platform to marginalized (including IBPoC and LGBTQ2SIA+) 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;
- Scrutinizing and reviewing Festival and Season procedures to ensure IBPoC, women, and nonbinary people are being actively engaged, subsidized, supported, and provided equitable opportunity;
- Continually evolving our inclusion practices, including:
- Engaging with and learning from a volunteer inclusion committee made up of representatives from the Deaf, disabled, and Mad communities;
- Expanding on our Volunteer Inclusion Program launched in 2018 to ensure volunteers of all abilities are provided meaningful opportunity to engage with the Festival through the curation of specific volunteer job accommodations;
- Providing a designated sensory-sensitive Quiet Space for Festival volunteers and artists, and a sensory-sensitive Quiet Tent in KidsFringe for parents and children during the 11-days of 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 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 ATB Financial 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 Off 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;
- When funding is available, providing ASL Interpretation for select season and Festival performances; and
- New in 2021, providing captioned video tours of all our theatre, lobby, and box office spaces on our website for anyone who needs extra information about accessing our building prior to arriving.
Continually evolving our Indigenous Theatre Program, including:
- Honouring and nurturing our relationships with leaders and elders in the Indigenous community;
- Identifying opportunities to elevate Indigenous art and artists and altering how our organization operates to welcome in our Indigenous neighbours, and reflect their stories, art, and contributions to our community;
- Hosting ongoing staff training on Indigenous culture and history;
- Hosting Indigenous led ceremonies during the opening of Fringe Festival, Chinook Series, and special events; and
- With the support of Naheyawin and Renaltta Arluk, Founder of Akpik Theatre, identify barriers for the community and gaps in our organizational knowledge to build a strategic plan for Indigenizing in Performing Arts Organizations, including a clear, Indigenous-lead strategy for organizational transformation within our organization and our sector in the next 5 – 10 years;
- Bring Indigenous-lead conversation and models for cross-cultural collaboration into the centre of our performing arts and Festival communities, and actively invite all stakeholders to come together to listen and learn;
- With the support of Naheyawin, hosting Indigenous-led Healing & Journeying, Ceremonies, including:
- Opening Ceremony & Circle: a community gathering to ask how we might best embark on an intentional journey, as a community, toward a more inclusive and creative future?
- Digital Community Engagement: a digital platform designed to invite the artistic community to contribute to the conversation, ranging from specific feedback for the Circle’s consideration to concepts for support to their own visions for the future; and
- Closing Ceremony & Circle: a community regathering to curate and net-weave input into the shared vision and intent of those gathered in circle.
Reopening the ATB Financial Arts Barns as a Cultural 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 and upcoming play/song/grant/proposal/pitch etc. until it’s done;
- Gather: round up collaborators around a table to jam;
- Host: hold board meetings, planning meetings, or take-over-the-world meetings;
- Book last minute $7/hour 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;
- See a show: offer what you will tickets are available to any Fringe Theatre performance;
Continuing to host, partner with, and learn from Chinook Series, including:
- Creating and upholding a space where as many voices as possible can be shared with as many people as possible;
- Facilitating brave industry conversations that encourage the theatre community to evolve, change, learn, and grow; and
- Supporting a diverse, eclectic mix of programming curated by established and emerging creators and producers including organizations like Azimuth Theatre, Black Arts Matters Edmonton, and SOUND OFF: A Deaf Theatre Festival;
Securing funding to expand our existing Equity Festival Lottery Category, including:
- Creating a new lottery Festival venue as part of the Edmonton International Fringe Theatre Festival that expands our offerings beyond the limitations of colonial theatre traditions and specifically embraces 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 creation and execution of this venue;
Participating in, contribute to, and implement actions from the Professional Association of Canadian Theatre and Theatre Alberta’s ALL IN equity, diversity, and inclusion initiative, 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. Looking back, we have very limited statistical information from years past. While we commit to gathering and sharing as much of that information as possible, we want to tell a complete story. Going forward, we commit to reporting on our hiring and engagement practices to better provide statistical information on the inclusion of IBPoC, women, and nonbinary folks within our organization, season, and Festival. We will make this information available at the close of our 2020/21 season and at the close the 2021 Edmonton International Fringe Theatre Festival. 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 to their support in this work.
Questions? Comments? Conversation starters? Please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will connect you with the right staff member