Letter from Council President Scott Bellis
Dear friends and colleagues,
It’s been just over a week since news broke about the situation at Soulpepper Theatre, and I want to bring you all up to date on what has happened since then, what Equity has been doing, and what we’re planning for the next while.

We, both Council and staff, recognise that there has been a lot of commentary in the live performance community about the initial statement put out on January 3rd. The statement was intended as a quick release to the media who were hammering us for specific details on the situation. Omitting to mention all parties to the lawsuit was a regrettable error on our part. That should have been caught in the moment and we apologise for that oversight.

Concern has also been expressed about ensuring that Soulpepper Theatre is taking appropriate and unbiased steps to investigate the allegations, examine their own processes, and move forward to being the kind of creative and safe workplace that it should be for our members.

Equity has contacted the chair of the Soulpepper board and the interim Executive Director for an assurance of our members' safety and for information on the transparency in the choice of the investigator and their independence. We will be keeping an eye on this going forward.

We know that members are also worried about their colleagues as they continue work at Soulpepper. Equity has sent an email to everyone for whom we have a contract through to June, reminding them about Not in OUR Space! , encouraging them to contact us if there is anything they would like to tell us or if they have any questions.

To this, I would also like to add my own voice on a related matter. I understand that members of the company have been taking a verbal and electronic beating for continuing their work.

I completely understand that there are strong feelings out there but I do not believe our live performance community or the workplace of these artists should become a venue for exactly the kind of harassing and hurtful behaviour that we are trying to stamp out. This week’s peaceful demonstration of condemnation and support at the doors of Soulpepper was a great example of how to make a statement without making a difficult situation worse. Please - let us grow and maintain respect for each other as fellow artists and colleagues.

Your Councillors are organizing a series of member meetings across the country to take place in the next short while. We want to talk about our safe and respectful workspaces strategy, about the results we h ave had so far, to answer your questions, and to hear your suggestions for how we go forward with Not in OUR Space! The first meeting is coming up in Ottawa on Monday, January 15 ( http://conta.cc/2Fpi4xg ) . Others will follow. We are keen to use this opportunity to turn the corner in improving our workspaces in all disciplines and in all regions, and we need you to join us in that effort. Attend your regional meeting and find out how you can be part of the solution. 

Remember, Equity's Respectful Workspace Advisors (RWAs) are ready to speak with any member who witnesses or experiences workplace harassment, bullying or other toxic behaviours. They can be reached at 1-800-387-1856 (416-867-9165 in Toronto) or by email to notinOURspace@caea.com . Please contact them; they are there to help you.

Members who have questions or comments on any Council activity may also reach me at president@caea.com . If you’ve got something to say, or questions to ask, let me know. My door is open.

Scott Bellis
On behalf of Equity Council
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