I’m writing today as a fellow actor, director, colleague, and as Equity Council President. Like many, I’m saddened, shocked and quite angry over the news. I love theatre. I love the collaboration and camaraderie. I love that leap into the dark. Most importantly, I value the implicit trust that exists between theatre artists at work.
The news this week has been brutal for our community. For me, hearing th
e accounts of Diana Bentley, Kristin Booth, Patricia Fagan and Hannah Miller was excruciating. I think their choice to come forward is brave, admirable, and deserving of support, as is the choice of any person in their situation who finds the courage to speak out.
Equity's Respectful Workspace Advisors are ready to speak with any member who experiences workplace harassment. They can be reached
. Please contact them. They’re trained to help you. You can even call anonymously if you just want information.
There have been questions from members about Equity’s restrained public comment on the lawsuits. Equity is the professional association for almost all the artists directly connected to both sides of the civil claims, and we have a legal duty to each of them. We do not yet know what role, if any, Equity may be called upon to play as the situation unfolds, and we cannot responsibly take any action that could be claimed as having compromised our ability to act fairly and impartially. We regret the silence, but ask for your understanding of its necessity.
I’ve also been asked why Equity did not do more to prevent what happened. In my five years as a Councillor no one has brought forward a complaint to Council regarding this company. I wish they had. I believe Council has more work to do to show that Equity can take action on your behalf when it’s needed.
Please contact us. We cannot act to protect you if we do not know. We all know this is the heart of the problem. Members do not report because they fear reprisal. And in many cases they are right to have those fears. But it does not have to be that way. Equity's
Not In OUR Space!
materials outline all our harassment policies and procedures.
Regarding Soulpepper, Equity members have poured a lot of their energy and commitment into the company over the years. It seems now that the betrayals of trust alleged by the claimants have eclipsed much of that investment. It’s tragic.
I think there is a phoenix in the ashes here. A real and pronounced opportunity for cultural change in our community lies before us. I hope this week’s events will pave the way for members to feel brave enough to come forward to Equity if they are experiencing workplace harassment, or if they witness it. We have to get the message out to the perpetrators of this behaviour that they will be called out. There is no place for it in our theatres and rehearsal halls, and it won’t be tolerated anymore. We will support you. Your Council wants to make things better.
We’re having a special Council meeting on Monday to organize regional member meetings to provide information, assurance and a venue for dialogue. Please look for more info coming down the pipe on those.
Members who have questions or comments on Council activity can reach me at
. I am willing to write or speak with anyone who wants to know more. That’s my job.
If I can accomplish one thing in my time as Council President it will be to ensure that you all know how important it is to your Councillors that you are safe, you are valued, and you are respected in your workspace. Good art is not made through fear, oppression, or shame. We all know it. We have a collective responsibility as artists and colleagues to create the change we need. Let’s change it together.
Respectfully, and with hope for the future,