The Development of a Canadian Code of Conduct for the Performing Arts

Early 2017 – The Professional Association of Canadian Theatres (PACT) and Canadian Actors’ Equity Association (Equity) launch a collaborative initiative, Not in Our Space!, to promote safe and respectful workplaces in Canadian professional theatre. It begins to roll out across the country.

Fall 2017 - #MeToo and major news items about sexual harassment in film and television hit the media.

November 2017 – PACT and Equity begin to plan for a roundtable in live performance to discuss how the theatre sector will respond to #MeToo. It was agreed, given the interconnectedness of theatre, dance, opera and music that the roundtable should be extended to the entire live performance community via the artist association and national arts service organizations. The date is scheduled for January 2018.

January 17, 2018 – The Live Performance Roundtable takes place.  The (then) Minister of Canadian Heritage, Melanie Joly, takes a keen interest and makes opening remarks.  The room returns to sector professionals only and conversations begin. In addition to the drafting of a brief statement, five volunteer working groups are established.  For more detail, please find a release issued by PACT/Equity

A volunteer coordinating committee was established to support the five working groups and included: Equity, PACT, Canada Dance Assembly (CDA) and l’Association des théâtres francophones du Canada (l'ATFC) as well as coordinators for each of the working groups.

The focusses of the five working groups were:

  • Developing a national code of conduct – Group lead, Barry Hughson, National Ballet of Canada
  • Developing resources and internal education materials – Group lead, Amanda Hancox, Dance Transition Resource Centre
  • Examining sectoral reporting mechanisms – Group lead, Michael Murray, Toronto Musicians Association
  • Mentoring and fostering the next generation in partnership with educational institutions – Group lead, Bruce Pitkin, Theatre Ontario
  • Reviewing governance models, board composition and practice – Group lead, Kate Cornell, CDA

January-February 2018 – CHRC is identified as the most appropriate organization to host such a major initiative. PACT and the Canadian Arts Coalition advocated strongly for additional funding to support a national initiative.  CHRC submits grant application to both the Canada Council for the Arts and the Department of Canadian Heritage, securing funding for a program of work in two phases to support these working groups and expand to include the literary arts and the visual arts and crafts.

March 2018 – Meetings of the Code of Conduct working group resulted in an agreement that, rather than simply adopt or adapt the code of another cultural industry such as Canadian film and television, deeper discussions with organizations and individuals in the performing arts were essential to ensure that we were not just engaging in a ‘check box’ approach to the problems facing live performance. It was further agreed that consultation with equity-seeking communities must inform the work and that their concerns/needs be reflected in any code of conduct since BIPOC, LGBTQQ2A and Deaf, Disability artists are disproportionately affected by harassment and bullying.

April 2018 – CHRC’s initiative is announced. Please find details here. [CHRC press release]

April – August 2018 – CHRC continues work on the initiative and launches the Respectful Workplaces in the Arts website

The Respectful Workplaces in the Arts Coordinating Committee (RWA CC) is established with these participants.

Barry Hughson shares some existing policies and codes of conducts with the RWA CC.

Fall 2018 – CHRC coordinates 13 locally organized consultations with equity-seeking communities across the country, in both French and English, in Vancouver, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal, Halifax, Moncton, Yellowknife.

Hughson shares first draft of a proposed code of conduct. It was agreed that this should be considered a living document and open to discussion and review, including input from the consultations with equity-seeking groups.

January 2019 – RWA CC meeting – further discussion of the code of conduct including decision to limit it to the performing arts.

April 5, 2019 – RWA CC meets and approves a draft Code of Conduct for the Performing Arts. Barry Hughson offers to finalize and format it. It was agreed that there should be an online form for organizations to sign onto the code on the RWA website to show their support.  There followed a discussion of how to launch the code. It was agreed to link it to a major cultural event. It was further agreed that Culture Days in late September would be ideal. Barry Hughson agreed to make final edits and send to CHRC for dissemination on behalf of the RWA CC.