Council Connect | March 2018
Dear {First Name},

I see a shift in the live performance industry. Since the beginning of the year, more than ever, as an industry, we have been examining how our workspaces operate and how bullying and harassment should no longer be tolerated. In December 2017, our Council decided that we should hold a series of meetings across the country, in order to spread the word about Not In OUR Space! and connect with you, the members.

In early January 2018, civil law suits were filed against the Toronto-based Soulpepper Theatre, making international headlines and inciting much community debate across the country. This story unfolded at the same time as the #metoo movement and related conversations, articles and news reports.

Our Council cross-country meetings took on even more importance. The good news is, there is a movement across Canada, across every discipline to learn more, to do more and stop bullying and harassment. Your Councillors took notes from each meeting and maybe ate a few snacks too (very important). Here is a summary of some of the important points raised:

  • A desire to learn more about the Respectful Workspace Advisors, how the program works and how they can help you (pro tip, they can help. Call them to get support and information.)‎
  • Stage managers need more information on addressing harassment and bullying as frequent “first responders” and they shouldn’t be the only ones tasked with responding to issues‎. (A major topic for discussion in the stage management community and at the upcoming S.M.Arts conference).
  • How important it is for engagers to have a respectful workspace policy. It is an engager's legal obligation to have health and safety as well as anti-harassment policies in place.
  • Members need more information about the role of the Deputy and more information should be provided to Deputies on bullying and harassment issues.
  • Members want to learn effective techniques for bystander intervention and what they can do when they witness harassment and bullying.
  • Every Equity agreement should have provisions that better protect against harassment and bullying.
  • Equity needs to establish and maintain a recording system to flag members who harass or bully repeatedly so action can be taken.

And much more. Read through the reports and see for yourself how the meetings went. Expect more news from Council in the coming months as we have a lot in the works to address safe and respectful workspaces and several other projects as our three-year term comes to an end in October. Thank you to everyone who reached out, who attended meetings and who engaged with us. We are here. We’re listening. Together, we will transform the live performance industry. As always, reach out at anytime.

2nd Vice-President
Member Engagement
Read all about Equity member meetings across Canada
In October 2017, the members of Equity’s national Council along with a few members of Equity’s staff had the opportunity to participate in a workshop addressing the concept of microaggressions with facilitator, Sarah Neville. The purpose of this workshop was to increase awareness, encourage discussion and sensitivity, and obtain a number of skills in order to better equip us to prevent our own microaggressions and to be more proactive when it comes to addressing the microaggressions that we might witness in our work space.

The workshop was a wonderful opportunity to seriously consider past experiences as well as personal behaviours. With this increased awareness, perhaps it will be a little bit easier for us all to manage behaviours more appropriately in the future. Not surprisingly, a great deal of our colleagues (myself included) had been on the receiving end of microaggressions and when our past experiences were voiced and written down for further exploration, it became quite remarkable as to just how pervasive these sorts of behaviours are.

The most valuable tool learned was the ability to ask “What did you mean by that?” as often, microaggressions come out of an intent to connect but for the victim, inevitably the impact is hurtful and isolating. And this is one of the most important things to remember as it pertains to microaggressions: often the intent is relatively harmless (in its ignorance) yet the impact can contribute to a culture of toxicity and a lack of perceived safety in our work environments. It can also give permission for further microaggressions to flourish, and inevitably create an unsafe culture.

I wish more of our membership could have had the opportunity to receive this training, as it is a good reminder that we are constantly required to put in effort to ensure our best behaviours show up, and that in our efforts to connect to one another, we must do so in a healthy manner rather than cause others to feel isolated. We can all strive to do better, and it is my hope that these sort of workshops will continue to empower us all to stand up and speak up when we see behaviours which are not appropriate, and should not be tolerated.

Yours,
Councillor, Southern Alberta
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