July 27, 2020


News

Since we put out our initial public statement on June 28, we have been provided a number of statements of people’s experiences with Carousel, in various capacities. We want to thank all of those who have come forward with their experiences – we know it can be difficult to share at times. We recognize that there are many persons whose experiences with our organization have left them pained.  There are some who have come forward to express their positive experiences with Carousel. We also want to acknowledge those experiences – because that is the kind of experience we wish our theatre to provide to everyone. It is clear from what has been told to us that this has not been the case. It remains our goal.

The vast majority of statements about harmful experiences with Carousel are completely new to us, the volunteer board. We believe that people are bringing forward their experiences with the main goal being the same as our goal – making Carousel a better place to work, participate in, and experience on a go forward basis. We want to improve as an organization. We can only do that properly if we receive feedback on where things are right, and where things are not, from those that experience it. We are looking into ways to enhance our existing programs so that people have avenues where they can feel safe coming forward with their truths in the moment without any fear of repercussion, so that those concerns can be considered and addressed without lingering. 

With that in mind we are in the process of finalizing details for an independent third party disclosure process, working with Wade King, an external consultant.  Mr. King is an experienced disclosure professional with a history of creating and implementing disclosure programs for a variety of organizations, including Arts organizations. He is also a recognized leader in equity, rights and inclusion. We are currently targeting commencing the disclosure process on August 4, 2020, and will be providing further details on that program closer to that time.

We sincerely appreciate all those that have come forward with their experiences to date, acknowledging that not everyone may have felt comfortable contacting the board directly. We are hopeful this independent process will allow people to feel safe in coming forward with their experiences, as that information is invaluable for the board to consider when determining the best path forward for Carousel. 

As we move through this period of transition, we have appointed Randi Edmundson and Shizuka Kai as Interim Co-Artistic and Managing Directors. We are providing Shizuka and Randi with our full support in what is a very difficult time for Carousel, and we ask that you do too. A statement from Randi and Shizuka follows below. 

This is a challenging time for the Arts community in general. There is a lot of healing that needs to take place for members of our community, as well as for us as an organization. This is not going to be a swift process. We have to undertake a thorough review of all aspects of our organization, including structure, processes and policies, our programming and the board itself, in order to determine what the best next steps are for Carousel. We are committed to improvement and change. We ask for your patience as we determine the best path forward for us as an organization.

The Board of Directors of Carousel Theatre Society (board@carouseltheatre.ca)

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Statement from Shiz and Randi, Interim Co-Artistic and Managing Directors: 

As we take on this new responsibility at Carousel, we do so with the awareness that this opportunity, our privilege, comes at a time of change for the organization and pain for members of our community.

The roles of Co-Artistic and Managing Directors will demand that we are bold, accountable, transparent, collaborative, thoughtful, and kind. Those are the values with which we come into this position, and those are the values that will guide us through this interim period.  

We will not hold our new responsibility lightly. We commit to you that: 

1.   We will collaborate in a meaningful way with consultants to help build a Carousel that is a safe and empowering place for everyone. 

2.   We will do our best to encourage ourselves, the staff, and board to be as transparent and accountable as possible to you.

3.   We will continue our own education in decolonialism and antiracism in an effort to bring these values into our work at Carousel. 

4.   We acknowledge the limitations of our interim roles (and the realities of the ongoing pandemic) in creating opportunities for the theatre community, but we will strive to build a foundation for not only amplifying but normalizing the voices of BIPOC artists at Carousel. 

We are not alone in this. We want to acknowledge the hardworking team at Carousel that is collaborating with us to keep the organization moving forward: 

Melissa Oei, Education Manager

Tanya Schwaerzle, Production and Venue Manager

Danielle Florence, Marketing and Communications Manager

Tanja Dixon-Warren, Director of Development 

Carole Higgins has also been retained until the end of August in a limited capacity to pass on transitional knowledge to the two of us as we move forward in these new roles. 

Theatre for Young Audiences is a place of energy, empowerment, representation, and revolution. We love it and we are proud to be here to support it in this small way. 

Randi (randi@carouseltheatre.ca) and Shiz​ (shizuka@carouseltheatre.ca)