Last month, we launched a pilot of Not In OUR Space!, a leadership project to promote healthy culture in workspaces for artists in Canada. We, the Professional Association of Canadian Theatres (PACT), has joined with Canadian Actor’s Equity Association (Equity) to support how artists and administrators work to make live performance spaces free from harassment.
Where Did This Project Come From?
Equity conducted a survey of its members on harassment issues in production. They received a statically significant number of responses, half of whom indicated that they had been subjected to or witness to an incident of harassment. The overwhelming majority (greater than 95%) were in the rehearsal room and Equity member to member targets. However, the behaviour was going largely unreported to theatre administration. It is speculated that the reason for the lack of reporting is fear based on retaliation, scarce work, and that the issue would affect the dynamics of the room.
What many artists don’t realize is that theatres do not accept unprofessional and bad behaviour in our rehearsal rooms. That theatres already have zero tolerance policies, written or not, and will support an artist coming forward. But we cannot affect behaviour and change if the issue is not dealt with when it happens. Everyone has personal responsibility in affecting this change; the administrators, stage management, artists who are targeted, artists who are witnesses, and individuals who perpetrate the behaviour (whether they realize it or not).
PACT stepped up to participate because we know our members believe in zero tolerance for this kind of behaviour.
The Pilot Project – PACT and Equity
The first phase of the partnership involves a pilot project with select PACT theatres across the country. In order to gain a diversity of feedback on the pilot, theatres were approached of varying size, scope and geography. Theatres had to be a producer of record for a production in rehearsal and performance during the pilot period of February 15 – July 31, 2017 to participate.
The pilot is a public relations campaign to test language, promote positive work environments; encourage the reporting of harassment related issues as soon as possible; and through feedback, will inform subsequent activities and projects. Theatres will be presenting a joint anti-harassment statement on the first day of rehearsal (First Day Talk) in conjunction with stage management who are there to formally represent Equity. Equity is providing materials to support their members and pilot theatres are each undergoing a review of their workplace safety policy to support their ability to participate. Participating theatres and artists who participate in the shows involved in the pilot will be contacted for feedback.
What Will be Next
It is expected that there will be a full rollout of the Not In OUR Space! First Day Talk Program across PACT theatres in the fall. In order to prepare for this, PACT will be providing additional resources through professional development, on our website in the form of policy templates, information on Provincial and Federal legislative expectations, documentation needs, and conversations with PACT members live, on peer calls and with special webinars.
Thank you to the eight theatre companies involved in this pilot. We know there are many more of you who would step up and encourage you to fully implement the Not in OUR Space! project when it rolls into your theatre after the pilot project is complete.
Phase 2 of the Project and Beyond
In subsequent phases of work the partners (PACT, Equity and Theatre Ontario) are planning on:
- Spreading the movement across the country to all PACT theatres
- Creating further professional development resources and programming for the community
- Working on initiatives with educational institutions in order to empower the next generation of professionals
- Reaching out to other live performance disciplines
- Making resources available to non-Equity/PACT productions
We are working together, dedicating energy to cultivating and supporting harassment-free live performance work spaces throughout Canada.
And we know that you will say “Not in OUR Space!”