"New Arts Club Hire Must Prioritize Diversity," Alliance ED Brenda Leadlay Tells The Georgia Straight

ALLIANCE EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR BRENDA LEADLAY

ALLIANCE EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR BRENDA LEADLAY

The selection of the new artistic managing director for Vancouver's Arts Club Theatre Company "is one of the arts sector’s most anticipated announcements," says a recent Georgia Straight article.

The recruitment process has been monitored and debated with much passion, notes the Straight, because because many people in the performing arts sector have become aware of a phenomenon dubbed the “white-guy shuffle” — a series of hires in the past 18 months, "that have placed white, middle-aged men at the helm of theatre companies."

Straight writer Jessica Werb turned to a number of members of the arts community, including Alliance executive director Brenda Leadlay, to comment on the new hire.

Leadlay said Arts Club hiring committee members must ensure that "they are aware of the national concern that is surrounding this whole idea of cultural diversity in leadership positions." Leadlay also noted, "there definitely is a frustration that board members [in the sector] don’t seem to be very well informed around the need for cultural diversity in leadership positions in cultural institutions in Canada.”   

Joyce Rosario, associate curator of the PuSh International Performing Arts Festival, also stressed the importance of considering diversity in the recruitment process. 

Rosario said she hopes to see the Arts Club follow in the footsteps of Theatre Calgary, which appointed an Asian-Canadian artistic director, Stafford Arima, this past March. “It [diversity] is very important to me, as it should be,” Rosario told the Straight. “Look at the demographics of our city, and then look at the demographics of arts leadership in the city, and there’s a disconnect. That’s a fact." And it’s an issue across the country, Rosario said. "It’s a big conversation that’s happening not just amongst diverse and indigenous communities. I think we’re finally having that conversation as a community at large.”

The Arts Club says a shortlist of applicants for artistic managing director will be assembled by the end of this month, and an announcement is anticipated at the end of this season.

The question of diversity in the BC arts community remains a salient one, and is the subject of the Alliance's REVOLUTION 2017 feature panel, "Cultural Diversity in Artistic Practice." Moderated by South Asian heritage arts advocate Nina Buddhdev, a group of traditional artists from diverse cultures explore the way race, gender and culture manifest in creative expression. For more information on REVOLUTION 2017, and to register today, click here.

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