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To Advocate for Theatre, or Not to Advocate for Theatre?

That is NOT the question.

The questions are: how, when, where, how often, to whom, for what artistic body/political body, for what theatre/show/playwright/training program/outreach initiative, to argue the economic value/intrinsic value/community value/tourism value/personal value, viability, vitality, etc.

In measuring my life as BAC and AAC (before advocacy committee and after advocacy committee) that fulcrum moment was Eric’s phone call where he said “a few meetings” would be required as the Chair of Advocacy.  I thought about it and agreed that I would spend a year volunteering for PACT.  Eric called back and mentioned it was a three-year commitment.  I stopped taking Eric’s calls.

The thing is, if one works in theatre, one is an advocate for theatre.  Regardless of your job capacity, the default position is to defend, explain and crow about what we do.  It’s not hard.  Theatre is great.  For lots of reasons – see above.  What’s hard is finding the time and the avenue to advocate.  To keep track of what’s happening politically and how it affects our art; to keep track of one’s Officer, Mayor, Reeve, MLA, MPP, MP, Ministers of Heritage/Finance/TourismSportCultureMulticulturalismCitizenship and to sing to them in praise of theatre, to engage with them – the policy-makers, the decision-makers, the ones who can influence your artistic programming let alone change the size of your production department.

But engage with them we must.  It’s part of the gig.  Those politicians have to, at the most basic level, be AWARE of our joyful and powerful art form, and even, hopefully, perhaps, APPRECIATE it, and of course, ATTENDING would be supercool.

We can’t ever let our guard down, or miss an opportunity.  Keep on advocating.

This is what I have learned in 2.5 years working with the PACT staff, our government relations advisor, the board of directors, the Advocacy Committee and you lot – all a bunch of busy smarty-pants theatre geeks.

I learned that advocacy is a long game.  That elected officials are humans.  And that our collective voice has the potential to make things better.

Bonnie Green
Stratford Festival
PACT’s Director with the Advocacy Portfolio

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