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The CITT/ICTS Ladies of the Backstage Committee Call to Action

posted on 6:29 AM, January 17, 2018
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To all members of the Canadian theatre community, and all others concerned:
 
The Canadian Institute for Theatre Technology/Institut canadien des technologies scénographiques (CITT/ICTS) Ladies of the Backstage Committee add their voices to the many in our industry that demand a workplace free from harassment. 
 
In response to recent accusations against a number of organizations within our theatre community, conversations have been increasing amongst colleagues and members of our organization regarding other experiences of violence in the workplace, and how they have been affected. Organizations that foster or passively permit abuses of power have facilitated environments in which violence – physical, emotional and sexual – has been allowed to flourish. We believe that we, as an industry, have an opportunity to lead the way to transforming workplaces into safe and positive spaces for everyone.
 
We stand now in support of all who have been affected. We, the Ladies of the Backstage Committee, believe that the culture of inconsequential harassment and violence in the workplace is the greatest challenge facing women in the theatre industry. We are calling for systemic change that will prevent the fostering of unhealthy work environments which has and is occurring across our country, on stages, sets and behind the scenes. We will advocate for victims, and for education, and will work towards a united national declaration by all members of the Canadian theatre community committing to a workplace free from harassment.
 
Every organization that is struggling with violence is not only a detriment to those within the organization; the consequences are a risk to the entire Canadian Theatre Community. The risks include mass resignations and boycotts, unemployment, and permanent damage to reputations. The issue does not lie with one individual, but in an organizational culture that has permitted and excused such abuse. It is in the best interest of the entire industry to unite, and to work together to support and rebuild a stronger Canadian theatre culture. We are issuing a Call to Action. 
 
As such, we recommend the following actions be taken immediately by all organizations:
 
  1. ADMIT that there is a problem in our industry and in our organizations when it comes to violence against women, be it in the form of harassment, bullying, unwanted touching, unsolicited exposure, compelled consent, sexual capitulation to those in positions of authority, and rape.
  2. APOLOGIZE for actions or inaction that have resulted in the victimization of women in our organizations and in our industry.
  3. ADDRESS the needs of those who have been impacted by this violence by providing avenues for safe conversation, debriefing opportunities, support and counselling, regardless of when and where this exposure took place.
  4. ASSESS the culture of your own organization. Consider your policies and procedures, review the CSA Standard for Psychological Health and Safety in the Workplace and measure your performance against the indicators discussed therein. (The standard may be downloaded here, free of charge).
  5. AMEND your workplace policies and programs, recognizing that violence is likely the most significant hazard that women in your workplace have encountered and ensure that attention is given to safe work practices and safe job procedures which prevent the perpetration of violence of any kind.
  6. CONSIDER the systems which exist in your workplace for the reporting of violence against women. Ensure that these systems are both effective and safe for women to use.
  7. EVALUATE with honesty and openness, the values and structures that may have been acceptable in your organization, and change those values and structures into ones that reflect the fundamental right of all people to work in a safe place. 
  8. ALIGN yourselves with organizations that are committed to ensuring the safety of workers in our industry, and work with them to achieve their goals.
  9. PARTICIPATE in conversations and calls to action on the issue of workplace violence against women, and educate yourself, your employees, donors, and patrons on the importance of ensuring that yours is a safe workplace for all people.
The mission of CITT/ICTS is to actively promote the professional development of its members and to work for the betterment of the Canadian live performance community. CITT/ICTS provides unique opportunities to its members to communicate, network and expand their knowledge and skills through workshops, conferences, electronic forums, and publications. You are invited to join us in fulfilling the CITT/ICTS Mission Statement.
 
Our next annual conference and trade show will be held in St. Catharines Ontario, August 15 to 18, 2018. We will be offering sessions and training for delegates at the conference, in support of our national Call to Action. Please refer to the CITT/ICTS website to learn more about the organization and its regional affiliates, or to enquire about engaging further in conversations about safe and healthy workplaces across our country.
 
Respectfully,
 
Heather Lamb
Chair of the CITT/ICTS Ladies of the Backstage Committee
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