Ballet BC shares the outrage felt by the world, mourning the ruthless killings of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Regis Korchinski-Paquet, Breonna Taylor, Chantel Moore, Rodney Levi, Tony McDade, and the other lives taken at the expense of police brutality both in the United States as well as here in Canada. These actions are the result of the continued devastation wreaked by systemic racism which is deeply rooted in our colonial history.
Over the past three weeks, we have paused our regular content and taken the time to listen, learn, and have difficult conversations that challenge the status quo. We recognize that our original statement is not enough, and that both Ballet BC and our industry have the potential and obligation to do more when it comes to combating the systemic racism that exists in our society and fulfilling our duty of reconciliation. We are currently reflecting on our own organization to consider the actions we can take to contribute to a better society where Black, Indigenous and racialized members of our community are treated fairly and without prejudice, and how those voices can be amplified and represented fully within our industry, and most immediately within Ballet BC.
Today, we commit to the following:
1. We will keep listening.
Now more than ever, we understand the importance of listening to equality-seeking communities. We will initiate internal dialogue to listen and share experiences and understanding of systemic racism and to generate ideas about what further actions Ballet BC can take to support Black, Indigenous and racialized members of our community. We will continue to seek out other effective ways to actively listen.
2. We will generate additional opportunities to learn from and create with Black, Indigenous and racialized artists.
As a part of our current strategic plan, we were to launch our Choreographic Lab this season with two local Indigenous artists. The annual Choreographic Lab will focus on collaboration with Black, Indigenous and racialized artists in the local community for 1-2 weeks of research and creation. While this season’s lab had to be postponed due to COVID-19, we have rescheduled for 2021 and look forward to its launch.
3. We will keep learning.
We recognize that for Ballet BC to become fully inclusive requires a continual learning process, including more training in diversity and inclusion for our team. We will provide Indigenous Cultural Safety Training for our entire organization, to coincide with the postponed launch of our Choreographic Lab, in an effort to deepen our understanding of ways we can build long-term and meaningful relationships with members of Indigenous communities.
4. We will proactively recruit and engage more Black, Indigenous and racialized artists.
We can do more when it comes to building a diverse organization. As a part of our current strategic plan, we have committed to expanding our circles and engaging with more Black, Indigenous and racialized artists, to increase the diverse makeup of our artistic team, administration and Board of Directors.
5. We will continue to provide access to education and training for Black, Indigenous and racialized artists.
We recognize that Ballet BC is fortunate to have a large platform and can play an important role in combating the systemic racism that exists within the ballet industry. We are in the planning phase to launch a scholarship through our outreach programs, including Dance Xpress and our official training institution Arts Umbrella, to provide funding and access to professional training, specifically for Black, Indigenous and racialized artists.
We share all of this with you today in an effort to be transparent, and so that you can hold us accountable to these actions.
We are committed to updating you on our progress. We know there is much more that we can do, and we believe it is important to seize this historic moment to take immediate action while recognizing that we need to continually evaluate and recalibrate our progress towards a fully inclusive community.
We stand with those protesting for the rights of Black, Indigenous and racialized people in the United States, Canada, and around the globe. Ballet BC has always stood for equality and inclusion, and hope you will join us to do more in this fight against racism.
Emily Molnar, Artistic Director
John Clark, Executive Director