Council Connect - June 25, 2020
In response to an urgent need for discussion about the state of the live performance community in relation to the Black Lives Matter movement and personal stories shared through #inthedressingroom, Equity's national Council convened a special meeting on Tuesday, June 9, 2020. That day, 21 out of 23 Council members were able to attend the meeting. The meeting started with the invitation to Council members and staff to share thoughts and hopes for coming away from the meeting with specific actions.
My colleagues Council President Scott Bellis, First Vice-President Kerry Davidson, Secretary-Treasurer Erika Morey and I have created a synopsis of the meeting to share with all Equity members.
Yours in Equity,
Ryan G. Hinds
Ontario Councillor
Second Vice-President
From the Online Council "Table" on June 9, 2020
  • Councillors acknowledged the brave actions taken by Black, Indigenous, Person of Colour (BIPOC) members who have spoken out over the week, on social media and through direct contact.
  • Councillors reminded one another that when, as individuals or a group, we express shock or surprise, it is an indication that we haven’t been listening, that what we have heard from our members over the past week is not new, that our members have been telling us these same stories for many years.
  • Council was in agreement that we wanted to leave the meeting with at least three concrete actions that we can say we are doing now, that it can’t be just a statement, there must be action.
  • Council recognized that this is a time for us to take a leadership position in our community and industry.
Not In OUR Space! And Code of Conduct
  • Council and staff discussed that while our agreements and Not in OUR Space! materials talk about discrimination, our focus most recently has been around issues of sexual harassment. While Council is in the process of reviewing and updating bylaws, policies and materials, we need to expand our focus to really make sure that our BIPOC members feel supported and protected.
  • In April 2020, Council had approved a members’ code of conduct entitled Standards of Professional Conduct, created by the SAFE Taskforce. It was decided that this document should be posted on the website immediately (as opposed to waiting for updates to other materials still in progress).
  • Council identified that racism is a safety issue. Staff and Council agree that there are places where we must work with engagers and, if necessary, hold them accountable for ensuring that our members are safe at work.
  • It was noted that financial barriers may contribute to a lack of diversity within our membership (e.g., no set minimum fees for apprentice stage managers), and that more discussion and work is needed to find a way to address these barriers.
As Cast
  • Council discussed the issue of “as cast” and how BIPOC artists often find themselves racialized by casting choices in which they have little or no agency (also identified that this has been an issue for women).
  • Council felt very strongly that although “as cast” is found in negotiated agreements, and Equity can’t unilaterally remove it, we should state publicly that we condemn the use of it and advocate for abolishing it - a motion was passed to direct the four officers to come up with a statement regarding the use of “as cast.”
Anti-oppression Training
  • Council supported a suggestion conveyed from a member that Equity dedicate an upcoming member information meeting as an anti-oppression training session for our members.
  • Council noted that we have Naheyawin scheduled to do a session entitled Staying Warm: A Guide to Allyship in Action for Council as part of our regular meeting at the end of June. Council had previously talked about possibly opening the session up to all members and Naheyawin had confirmed that they were open to that, so it was agreed that the session be open to member attendance (online session) as well as a recording being made available afterwards, as planned.
  • There was mention of an ACTRA initiative that includes anti-oppression training as a requirement of membership and whether that is something that we could also enforce.
  • Also, it was brought forward by Council members and staff that we could look for opportunities to work with our industry partners (like the Professional Association of Canadian Theatres (PACT) and sister organizations (like Actors’ Equity Association (U.S.) and ACTRA) to address systemic racism and oppression that our members come up against.
Staff and Council Policies
  • There was mention of staffing and steps Equity does, can and should take to ensure that our staff is diverse and inclusive.
  • There was the start of some brainstorming around how, beyond our existing policies and bylaws, we can make sure that our Council includes more BIPOC members, including what it means to be one of only a few BIPOC members on Council and the additional work that Councillors might feel along with that.
Immediate Next Steps
A Councillor mentioned that members had requested a transcript of this meeting; normally, the minutes for a Council meeting are made available (after they have been approved at the following Council meeting). Council members expressed that due to the personal nature of some of the information disclosed, they were not comfortable with a transcript being distributed. It was agreed that a synopsis highlighting the discussion points could be provided that would capture more of the discussion than would be included in the minutes of a meeting.

Council's discussion was far reaching, and it was agreed that there will be still more discussions and actions to come, and will be included again on the agenda for our regular meeting at the end of June. The following are four specific actions to come out of this meeting:
  • Condemning and advocating for abolishment of “as cast” practice, especially as it relates to the oppression and racialization of many of our members
  • Posting of recently approved Equity Members Standards of Professional Conduct
  • Open to members the Staying Warm: A Guide to Allyship in Action workshop scheduled for the regular June Council meeting
  • Dedicate the next member information online meeting to anti-oppression training (August)
Prepared for the Equity membership by Council President Scott Bellis, First Vice-President Kerry Davidson, Second Vice-President Ryan G. Hinds and Secretary-Treasurer Erika Morey on behalf of Equity's national Council.

The June 9, 2020 Council meeting was attended by Coucillors: Van Abrahams, Deena Aziz, Karen Bassett, Maev Beaty, Joshua Beaudry, Scott Bellis, Kerry Davidson, Donna Fletcher, Ryan G. Hinds, Richard Lam, Ian Leung, Geoff McBride, Peter McGillivray, Nora McLellan, Erika Morey, Kristina Nicoll, Melissa Novecosky, Valerie Planche, Diane Speirs, Michaela Washburn, Jennifer Wigmore, and staff representatives Arden R. Ryshpan, Steven Sparling, Maz Magoris and Elona Naqo.

Your Council can be contacted here: and staff can be contacted here.
Visit and the COVID-19 Advocacy and Resources page for Equity's current updates on the COVID-19 pandemic.