Our commitment to you

18 December 2020

In Our commitment to you, a letter published in September (see below), full-time faculty and staff promised to develop, before the end of 2020, a clear anti-racist and anti-oppressive strategy for DART.

We have been meeting regularly to examine opportunities to increase equity and social justice in the administration of the Department, in our practices in pedagogy, and in our relationships with students. Periodically, we have been joined by members of Brock’s Office of Human Rights and Equity, and their work with us has supported the authorship of a draft equity framework to be pursued within the department’s culture and structure.

Department members engage in this reflective, careful process both as individuals working for equity in the larger university and public environment, and as members of Dramatic Arts in the MIWSFPA. Here, DART is running a 2020-21 BIPOC Speaker Series featuring Black, Indigenous and Persons of Colour who are leaders from the theatre world. The anti-supremacist analysis informing many of the interventions in the 2020-21 Walker Cultural Leaders Theatre in the Era of Climate Crisis series intersects with and amplifies the concerns of the EDI work. Full-time faculty and staff have undertaken training sessions on the subjects of unconscious bias and anti-racism pedagogy, and we’ve requested training in indigenous teaching methods. The department recently created an Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Liaison, whose aim is to support education and community building around questions and actions pertaining to EDI. Gavin Fearon has been appointed to the office.

The development of a thoughtful and thorough EDI strategy for DART is slow. We are not yet in a position to share a plan with you; it is being considered from a number of perspectives and is incomplete. But we are working on it. We need an extension until the spring.

Meanwhile, the DART BIPOC Student Council has been meeting throughout the fall term and will continue to meet after the break. It invites the participation of students identifying as Black, Indigenous, or as Persons of Colour. If you have questions or if you’re interested in the work of the BIPOC Student Council, please contact Diego Blanco (db17hd@brocku.ca).

As a University theatre community, our work is always to engage in critique, analysis, and creative response to the world’s challenging circumstances. We continue to harness these skills, passions, and aptitudes to the important work of rooting out supremacy thinking and practice in any of its forms.

The department invites input on the development of DART’s anti-racist and anti-oppressive strategy. If you have anything to share, please reach out to a staff, faculty member or student representative on the departmental committee.

3 September 2020

Beginning in June, in part prompted by feedback from students and alumni, as well as in observation of momentum of Black Lives Matter, DART faculty and staff began meeting regularly with Brock’s Office of Human Rights and Equity (HRE). With the support of HRE staff, our goal is to examine and identify the department’s contributions to white supremacy and all oppressive structures and practices, whether inside or out of the classroom, in the curriculum, in our productions, in our community engagement, and in our relationships with other offices we collaborate with or who represent us.

This work is ongoing, and while we believe it is important that we communicate our intentions to develop safer and equitable opportunities for members of our community who identify as Indigenous, Black, Persons of Colour, non-white, differently-abled, of any gender, of any sexuality, neurodivergent, and as members of any minoritized or marginalized community, we also recognize that merely stating the intention is not enough. Such a statement does little to dismantle the systems of oppression that withhold such opportunities; does little to help us use our privilege responsibly or to be accountable for our actions; does little to materially improve living and working conditions at DART and in a larger community to which we all belong. Our commitment to you is to develop, before the end of 2020, a clear anti-racist and anti-oppressive strategy for DART.

Whether a current or past student or instructor, a visiting artist, spectator, or another member of the community, your experiences at DART can help us develop this strategy. We, the undersigned, acknowledge that we have not always listened effectively and that our intentions have not always had the impact we desired We also acknowledge that sharing experiences will require different emotional labour for different people, and we appreciate your generosity. We recognize that there are power imbalances, class differences, economic circumstances, and other influences on participating in this process with us. We are attempting to be open and grateful for any opportunity to listen to you now. We invite you to share your stories with us, either directly by reaching out to a member of faculty or staff that you trust, or by contacting Shannon Kitchings at Brock’s Office of Human Rights and Equity.

Even while recognizing our various privileges, it is our belief that no one is truly free while systems of oppression are in place. To invoke Lilla Watson and her associates in a 1970s Aboriginal activists’ group of Queensland, Australia: Our liberation is bound up with yours.

dawn e crysler, theatre technician
Roberta Doylend, Head of Wardrobe
David Fancy, Professor and Chair, Department of Dramatic Arts
Gavin Fearon, Technical Director
Karen Fricker, Associate Professor and Undergraduate Program Officer
Mike Griffin, Lecturer
Ed Harris, Theatre Technical Production Assistant
Gyllian Raby, Associate Professor
Rachel Rhoades, Assistant Professor
Cindy Rorke, Administrative Assistant, Department of Dramatic Arts
David Vivian, Associate Professor, (Director, MIWSFPA)
Danielle Wilson, Associate Professor

See also: scholarstrikecanada.ca

Introducing the DART/MIWSFPA 2020-21 BIPOC Speaker Series. Conversations in which Black, Indigenous, and people of colour theatre leaders address issues of interest to the theatre community, and beyond.

Call for Student Participants: 21 Black Futures, Seeding the Future: A partnership between Obsidian Theatre Company, CBC Arts, York University, Brock University

Grad Fair to connect IBPOC theatre students with professional artists across Canada