The Power of Our Privilege
This morning I had the fortune of participating in Push Festival's Field Notes which was embraced by a provocation by Ann Connors and facilitated by Fay Nass, Dani Fecko, Jiv Parasram, Joyce Rosario and myself.
The provocation was as followed:
Power. Space. Leadership. Reflection.
How do you acknowledge the power you have? How do you use that power? How do you share it? And, as importantly, how do you let go? As individuals, serious self-reflection is required to recognize the privilege we each hold — and this journey is not easy. We tend to throw rocks at the larger institutions and place blame on their governing bodies for what we feel are risk-averse and short-sighted decisions that are not responsive to our community. We point to the systems that we have created as the problem. Fair enough – much of that criticism has been earned, and we certainly have a few more windows to break on that front. But what about us? As leaders of independent companies — as artists, administrators, and curators — who hold power that others are still unable to reach, are we acknowledging the power that we hold? Are we using it to lead? Are we sharing? And how do we do what we do and respect those of us who are coming, as well as those of us who are going?
With an international and domestic group there was a really rigorous discussion around how our own power and privilege impacts the work and equitable engagement and participation of the artistic and theatrical creation community. We touched on a lot of nuanced challenges like gender disparity, colonial repercussions, systemic oppression and the ongoing marginalization of Indigenous peoples.
We set the the intention to understand our own power and abilities to participate in shifting the systems, environments and relationalities of the theatre ecology. In the vein of continuing that effort to finding tangible practical solutions here are some from my own practice.
1. Community of Practices - hold them as org's and institutions. Create knowledge sharing environments all year long not just auxiliary to a product/show.
2. The Treaty - create the space for artists from all backgrounds to make sovereign decisions around how they will engage with you. Don't just rely on dogmatic practices like contracts, mandates and mission statements. Find ways to be nimble and responsive - it's what artists have to do. And artists be innovative with how we are being engaged, we have so much power with your art- it is so powerful.
3. Every night is relaxed night - to truly incorporate intersectionality of creative practice, it has got to be all of the time. After listening to Dawn Jani Birley's keynote at Push, I think every show should have a sign language interpreter at every performance.
With Kamloopa we also made every night relaxed. I feel strongly that we need to give agency back to the audience - let them do what they gotta fucking do. Get up, move, go take a phone call, let people do what they need to so they can even begin to think coming to our shows.
That's all I'm going to share for now and if you have ideas or thoughts email me or comment below so we can all start embedding knowledge sharing practices into our work.
p,s Limelet to Push for inviting me out and to everyone who bravely spoke, reflected and was activated. I'm off to Kiinalik: These Sharp Tools tonight and very honoured to share space with the team in a talkback tonight.