Stage Door News

Toronto: The Black Pledge Collective issues The Black Pledge to producers of live performing arts in Canada

Monday, February 22, 2021

Is Canada ready for change? The Black Pledge aims to help dismantle anti-Black racism and oppression, to create true equity and inclusion at a structural level within live arts spaces. It is time to establish a new structure, one that respects all marginalized communities and invites them to collaborate as equals. This Pledge primarily addresses predominately and historically white-led organizations in theatre, opera, and dance and extends an invitation to these institutions to make a three-year renewable commitment to self-reflective action in creating lasting change in the treatment of Black artists, technicians, arts workers, and audiences. Initially founded by Sedina Fiati and conceived and developed by a collective of Black womxn artists, The Pledge was authored by multiple Black live arts performers and arts workers throughout the Greater Toronto Area and Montreal. Though it is a working document, it holds the keys to building and maintaining spaces where Black people feel safe, supported, and empowered to self-advocate.

The Black Pledge was created in response to the injustices and terrifying violence aimed at Black people which was widely broadcasted across our nation in 2020. We, as a society, finally began paying attention to the dehumanization of Black and Brown bodies in the wake of the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and closer to home, D'Andre Campbell, to name a few. The racism and oppression that faces Black communities is real and life-threatening. These events sparked, not only mass protests, but conversations within the Arts and Entertainment industries as Black artists began to speak out against frequent micro and macro aggressions they faced in live arts spaces. The Collective’s mission is to create long-term, structural changes in live arts organizations by using The Black Pledge as a road map, providing an intersectional approach to dismantling anti-Blackness. The Collective can also offer support to these organizations to help them meet their commitments. It is our belief that in creating equitable and inclusive cultures and environments, spaces that support and advocate for Black people will begin to emerge. The Collective also aims to serve as a soundboard of support and resources for Black artists to share their experiences of being Black in the performing arts industry.

Meet our Collective team who wrote and contributed to The Black Pledge: founded by Sedina Fiati (Coroner, Lukumi), and includes Joella Crichton (Love By Accident, In the Dark), Jajube Mandiela (former b current Performing Arts Artistic Director), Samantha Walkes (Book of Mormon Broadway, Caroline, or Change), Alicia Richardson (Private Eyes, #Winning), Dr. Rita Shelton Deverell (co-founder Vision TV, Order of Canada), Janelle Cooper (The Colour Purple), Chiamaka Glory (The Boys, The Bridge), and Diane Roberts (Arrivals Legacy Project founder). Further developments were made in consultation with several Black live art professionals, artistic leaders and board members across the country.

Prioritizing the voices of marginalized communities is the kind of world we dream about - more voices, coming together in celebration and to reflect the beautiful mosaic tapestry that is our nation. The Collective believes in the power of partnership and transparency. We are ready for change. Are you?

Joella Crichton & Samantha Walkes

For more information and link to The Black Pledge, visit www.theblackpledge.ca.