January 2020


Twitter: VancouverFringe

Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion at the Fringe

The Vancouver Fringe Theatre Society has a Vision of Theatre for Everyone, but we know that we’re not there yet. The theatre community is rallying around conversations about equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) and as producers of an un-juried, uncensored festival, the Fringe is uniquely able to offer space and support to emerging artists from diverse backgrounds. We know that not all voices are heard and not all members of our community are represented on Fringe stages, and we’re committed to making equity, diversity, and inclusion a priority at the Fringe.

What we have done:

Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Audit:
With financial assistance from the BC Arts Council and the Vancouver Foundation, in May of 2017 we partnered with ShapeShift Arts. lee williams boudakian, Anoushka Ratnarajah, and Gavin Kade spoke with staff, board, community members, and artists of all backgrounds as part of the process. The Audit was completed in January, 2018.

EDI Audit:
Executive Summary: 
Click here to read the two-page summary of the Audit Report, which includes a list of recommendations in brief.
Full Audit Report: Click here to read the report in full (49 pages). As this is a large document, it may take some time to download.

With a detailed report and recommendations we have new insights on the work needed to increase equity, diversity, and inclusion at the Fringe!

Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Program:
With funding from the Vancouver Foundation, TD Bank Group, and the BC Multiculturalism Grant, we have been able to move forward with our EDI Program. We have hired a year-round Communications & Outreach Coordinator and an Equity, Diversity & Inclusion Director.

While the program is still being developed, we have been working with Neworld Theatre on creating an award to honour voices from communities that have been historically marginalized and the prize will feature a presentation opportunity, production resources, audience development, and mentorship from an established artist. During the 2018 Fringe Festival, we hosted a round table on inclusive hiring and casting practices featuring Rohit Chokhani (Project SAT {South Asian Theatre}), Marisa Emma Smith (Alley Theatre), Mily Mumford (Nebula Company Theatre), Raes Calvert (Hardline Productions), and Susanna Uchatius (Theatre Terrific). They shared how they found success and how they’ve learned from their mistakes in creating diverse, inclusive, and equitable teams.

Further steps and initiatives will focus on artists accessing and taking part in the Fringe and we will share opportunities in Fringe newsletters as well as through outreach activities.

Check out some photos by Mona Wu from the Inclusive Casting Round Table:

What’s next?

If you’re interested in next steps please subscribe to our newsletter, and follow us on Facebook , and Twitter for the latest Fringe news, including an exciting future that will bring us closer to our Vision: Theatre for Everyone! 

As we do this work we recognize we’re not alone and we value more voices at our table! If you have something you’d like to share with us about the work we’re doing, suggestions, recommendations, critical feedback, resources, anything EDI-related really, we’d love to hear from you! Please email us at ExecutiveDirector@VancouverFringe.com (Laura Efron).

Further reading and resources:

Indigenous Arts Protocols – Produced by the Ontario Arts Council, this video includes interviews with Indigenous Artists about cultural appropriation and how it can be avoided.

Valerie Sing Turner Takes Action For Meaningful Change – Read about local theatre artist Valerie Sing Turner’s new searchable database of Indigenous and racialized theatre artists (IRA) — a project she is working on with Fringe board member Phillip Djwa!

Hadiya Roderique’s three ways to retain diverse talent.

Matthew Xia: Invisible in Edinburgh – why are BAME people ignored at the fringe? – BAME is a British acronym that stands for Black, Asian, and minority ethnic and is used to refer to members of non-white communities in the UK. This is an article about the experiences of people of colour at the Edinburgh Fringe.

The Unequal Opportunity Race – The Fringe team first saw this video at out Diversity 101 training with ShapeShift Arts. It’s a great visual aid when thinking about and explaining why EDI work is important.

Gender! It’s a lot more than man and woman. Learn more about gender diversity through this recently published guide on Equality for Her.

Take the #Next150 Challenge with us!

The Centre for Community Organizations –Some great resources here! COCo’s mission is to promote social justice, active citizenship, democracy, and just socio-economic development by supporting the development of healthy organizations and strong communities through education