EQUITY AND ACCOUNTABILITY UPDATES

DECEMBER 2020
 

Welcome to the Equity and Accountability page of the SIA website. We have undertaken numerous community initiatives in the last year including: the Artists Supporting Community Initiative (ASCI) which connects out of work actors with seniors in need, our free summer pop-up events, our work with Mutual Aid Pods and more. We have also been making significant changes to our organization to address systemic racism and oppression. We have created this page so you can keep up to date on the work we are doing in York South Weston and the changes we are making as a company. All of this with the intention of being a more equitable, transparent and empathetic organization. We have also hired arts consultant Paulina O’Kieffe-Anthony to conduct an objective third party organizational audit of SIA, the goal being to review our internal systems and gather feedback from the community. We are committed to posting the recommendations from this report here and letting you know how they are being applied. We invite you to be a part of our effort to make SIA a safer and more equitable place. If you have questions or comments please reach out to our Artistic Director David di Giovanni at david@shakespeareinaction.org or our Communications Coordinator Matt Nethersole at matt@shakespeareinaction.org.

We look forward to working with you to create a better, brighter future for SIA and York South Weston.

UPDATES

Over the last three months, SIA took the following steps to align with the recommendations in Paulina’s report:

  • Piloted a staff on-boarding and orientation process for ten new hires;
  • Created and have implemented key HR policies including: Complaints, Anti-Harassment, Grievance, Disciplinary Process, and Code of Conduct
  • SIA Staff Tamara Freeman, Matt Nethersole, and Suchiththa Wickremesooriya completed the Social Justice Fellowship and created a presentation on our work developing SIA’s Equity Strategy;
  • Have created an audition and rehearsal checklist as part of our Equity Strategy, which we are testing out on upcoming production
  • Implemented a new audition process that seeks to reduce implicit bias and de-centre the importance of headshots and resumes in the selection process;
  • Supported Weston’s first “Westside Pride” event in partnership with UrbanArts, REXPride, and UNISON
  • Have made space for staff workshops on land acknowledgment creation

In the next months, SIA is prioritizing the following action items: 

  • Engage newly formed equity committee to audit HR policies;
  • Finalize company-specific land acknowledgment;
  • Test and evaluate equity checklists for summer production and report on efficacy;
  • Staff and board strategic planning session in September for mission re-evaluation;

Over the last two months, SIA took the following steps to align with the recommendations in Paulina’s report:

  • Strategic Planning session has been postponed to September to allow for more Board and Staff preparation over the summer;
  • All SIA staff participated in “Braiding Ourselves Back into Creation” workshop lead by local Indigenous artists Star Nahwegahbo and kaya dacosta, as we aim to draft a company-specific land acknowledgment;
  • Completed three Diversity Equity Inclusion and Belonging workshops with a focus on anti-Black racism with SIA Board, and three with SIA staff lead by Nada Johnson from Nada Johnson Centre for Development and Consulting
  • Continue the creation of an Equity Strategy, with a hyperfocus on creating an equity checklist for the audition process;
  • AD has begun the audit of key policies, to be audited by staff and Equity committee;
  • Commenced a working group of agency leads called the Queer Visibility Initiative that seeks to collect and share resources for 2SLGBTQ+ folks in northwest Toronto;
  • Begun researching health / dental plans for staff;

In the next month1, SIA is prioritizing the following action items: 

  • Pilot staff onboarding process for new hires;
  • Engage newly formed equity committee to audit HR policies (delayed);
  • Collectively draft company-specific land acknowledgment;
  • Create a policy work plan;
  • Begin to pilot equity strategy in audition design for summer show

Over the last month, SIA took the following steps to align with the recommendations in Paulina’s report:

  • Engaged an arts consultant to support a strategic plan session for board, staff, and community members in May/June 2021
  • In consultation with a local Indigenous consultant to facilitate staff workshops with the purpose of developing a company-specific land acknowledgment 
  • Formalized board subcommittee structure
  • Hired Nada Johnson from Nada Johnson Centre for Development and Consulting to facilitate three Diversity Equity Inclusion and Beloning workshops with SIA Board, and three with SIA staff in April/May 2021.
  • Begin the brainstorm and creation of an Equity Strategy, including defining Equity, identifying core pillars, and analyzing SIA facets through these pillars.

In the next month1, SIA is prioritizing the following action items: 

  • Finalize first draft of updated staff onboarding process and run it by the staff for feedback (delayed);
  • Engage newly formed equity committee to audit HR policies;
  • Engage newly formed equity committee to begin to collaborate on equity strategy
  • Engage newly formed finance and audit committee to audit finance policies;
  • Formalize date and design for strategic planning session 

In February 2021, SIA took the following steps to align with the recommendations in Paulina’s report:

  • Conduct recruitment process for a consultant to lead Staff and Board Anti-Oppression workshops in Spring 2021;
  • Invited six new board members to join SIA’s board, and had our first meeting with these new members;
  • SIA staff Tamara, Suchiththa, and Matt have decided to take on the creation of SIA’s Equity Strategy as their key project through the Leading Social Justice Fellowship program.

In March 2021, SIA is prioritizing the following action items: 

  • Finalize first draft of updated staff onboarding process and run it by the staff for feedback (delayed);
  • Develop policy committee made up of staff and board to look over policies and provide notes and feedback (Feb/March);
  • Develop a plan for a strategic planning retreat with board, staff, and community partners (delayed, waiting on on-boarding of new board members and GM to co-design this process) ;
  • Engage an Indigenous consultant to draft company-specific land acknowledgement;
  • Propose board subcommittee structure, and begin recruitment plan.

In January 2021, SIA has taken the following steps aligned with Paulina’s report

  • We have interviewed and are prepared to on-board 5-7 new board members, whose identities, interests, expertise align with our shift toward growing an accessible and equitable arts education company in northwest Toronto;
  • To further centre equitable decision-making, we have prioritized the hiring of a second executive position: a General Manager, and are in the process of this hiring and recruitment;
  • The Chair of SIA’s board has created a first draft of a number of policies based off of pre-existing policies shared with us, including Financial Accountability, HR, Board and Governance, Fundraising, and Administrative policies; all which will be looked over by a committee of staff and board members before sharing with an external consultant;
  • Three staff members, Tamara Freeman, Suchiththa Wicremesooriya, and Matt Nethersole have been accepted to join the University of Toronto’s School of Cities and United Way’s “Social Justice Fellowship,” and will be taking their research to spearhead a project that addresses equity at SIA and in the larger performing arts landscape;
  • A 2021 recommendations work plan with deadlines was created and passed by staff for notes and feedback.

We are prioritizing the following action items for the month of February:

  • Finalize first draft of updated staff onboarding process and run it by the staff for feedback (delayed);
  • Develop policy committee made up of staff and board to look over policies and provide notes and feedback (Feb/March);
  • Develop a plan for a strategic planning retreat with board, staff, and community partners (delayed, waiting on on-boarding of new board members and GM to co-design this process) ;
  • Continue recruitment process for a consultant to lead Staff and Board Anti-Oppression workshops in Spring 2021.

From December 2019 to present, SIA has followed through on the following recommendations and action items that stem from Paulina’s report.  

  • SIA created an updated company equity statement which will be included on all job postings, board recruitment, volunteer and work opportunities. 
  • In November, we started weekly staff meetings, and hosted three meetings which allowed board and staff to meet and mix;
  • We created job titles and descriptions for three priority board positions.
  • SIA staff were consulted on the development of a more formal and supportive staff onboarding process, which will result in a policy;  
  • SIA staff and board took part in a visioning survey to begin the process of re-imagining our mission, vision, and pillars;
  • SIA Board and AD published a statement acknowledging and apologizing for the harm done in November 2019.  That report can be found above.  This webpage was sent directly to everyone Paulina reached out to, including those directly involved in the incidents of November 2019

We are prioritizing the following action items for the month of January:

  • Finalize first draft of updated staff onboarding process and run it by the staff for feedback;
  • Develop updated drafts of basic HR policies (which will be run through staff, board, and  a consultant for feedback in the months ahead);
  • Develop a plan for a strategic planning retreat with board, staff, and community partners;
  • Begin recruitment process for a consultant to lead Staff and Board Anti-Oppression workshops in Spring 2021.

On December 14th 2020, SIA created the “Strategic Revisioning” page on our website, which is linked to our homepage as well as through the “About Us” tab.  We will be sharing regular updates about our progress on Paulina’s recommendations here. 

The purpose of this page is to be transparent about the steps we’re taking to centre equity at our organization.  We have shared Paulina O’Kieffe’s recommendations report above, as well as a statement from our Board of Directors regarding our organizational priorities moving into 2021. 

Alongside this, SIA has re-opened our call for Board Members.  The recruitment was originally paused while the report was being conducted.  We are developing a more equitable board recruitment strategy, and are excited to welcome new members onto our board.

Aligned with Paulina’s recommendations, by January 2021, SIA will have re-drafted and created new HR policies as well as a staff on-boarding policy.  These are both presently in the works. 

Finally, in the spirit of transparency, we are including past statements from the Board of Directors below regarding the events around Sound and Fury.   

PROGRESS ON RECOMMENDATIONS FROM REPORT POSTED DECEMBER 2019
Dated March 18, 2020

The Board of Directors (Board) of Shakespeare in Action (SIA) investigated the incidents which occurred on November 9th and 11th, 2019 during rehearsals for the SIA production of “Sound and Fury”. The Board posted a summary of its findings on its website and issued recommendations to occur during the three-month period following the report. This document provides the following progress report on those recommendations. 

Review of and Progress on Recommendations

The progress on each individual recommendation included in the report is presented below. The original recommendation is underlined and the progress to resolution for each recommendation is presented directly following the underlined recommendation.

The following recommendations were made with respect to Michael Kelly
  1. That Michael Kelly will step down as Artistic Director: Mr. Kelly stepped down as Artistic Director and took a hiatus from all operational activities of SIA. Mr. Kelly did inform SIA of some networking he undertook privately during this time which will be of future benefit to SIA. 

Conclusion on progress:  Michael Kelly has complied with this recommendation   

  1. That Michael Kelly will undergo anti-oppression, anti-discrimination and anti-bullying training: Mr. Kelly attended a series of workshops at SIA entitled “Diversity and Inclusion, From the Inside Out” presented by Annemarie Shrouder International, 412-725 King Street West, Toronto, ON M5V 2W9 http://annemarieshrouder.com/ . The workshops occurred on January 23rd, February 25th and March 4th, 2020. The workshops were attended by Mr. Kelly and by Board Members and staff.  Mr. Kelly was an active, open and engaged participant. 

Conclusion on progress:  Michael Kelly has complied with this recommendation   

  1. Michael Kelly will not engage directly with artistic personnel in any capacity: Michael Kelly has taken a hiatus from any operational activity at SIA and has not engaged with any artistic personnel at SIA.

Conclusion on progress:  Michael Kelly has complied with this recommendation   

  1. That a member of the Board will assume the position of Officer to conduct those administrative duties previously managed by Michael Kelly: The Board of Directors includes personnel in the role of Officers of SIA in the positions of Board Chair, Vice-Chair and Treasurer. These positions have assumed all Officer responsibilities held by Michael Kelly. 

Conclusion on progress:  This recommendation has been managed by Board of Directors    

Mr. Kelly has, of his own volition, also sought to confront these issues, privately.  He has sought external guidance from many sources to assist him on his journey and he has regularly corresponded with the Chair of the Board of Directors advising him of the steps he is taken to increase his sensitivity and awareness. 

In the opinion of the Board of Directors, Michael Kelly has fully complied with the recommendations of the incident investigation report and has, in addition, taken further steps to increase his awareness and sensitivity to diversity and inclusion issues beyond that recommended. 

The following recommendations were made with respect to SIA and the Board of Directors.

Please Note: Progress on, or completion of, recommendations below may be affected by COVID-19 restrictions placed on SIA’s operating ability during this difficult time. The dates referred to in the recommendations do not – at this time – reflect impact from COVID-19. It is likely that changes to these actions and dates may be necessary as the Federal, Provincial and Local States of Emergency dictate. 

  1. That SIA needs policies and practices to prevent and address personal and group oppression, discrimination and bullying: Sample Policies have been obtained from other charitable organizations and online sources. This work is being conducted by the Board of Directors. Any resulting policy changes are anticipated to be completed in draft form by the end of March 2020 for review by staff and the Board of Directors. Once approved, implementation of the policies and any associated training required is expected to occur before the end of May 2020.  

Conclusion on progress: Action on this recommendation is on-going    

  1. Engaging a third party to audit the implementation of the necessary policies and practices: After completion of the review and the implementation of any changes to Policy, a third-party reviewer will be consulted to review and audit the updates and implementation process. This activity cannot occur until the activities in #1 above are completed.  

Conclusion on progress: There is no progress on this recommendation at this time. 

  1. Engaging a third party to facilitate anti-oppression training:  SIA retained Annemarie Shrouder International, 412-725 King Street West, Toronto, ON M5V 2W9 to present “Diversity and Inclusion, From the Inside Out” training (http://annemarieshrouder.com/). The workshops (which are described above) occurred on January 23rd, February 25th and March 4th, 2020 and were attended by 3 Board Members, by 2 staff members and by Michael Kelly. All participants were active, open and engaged. 

Conclusion on progress: SIA has complied with this recommendation 

  1. That all SIA staff and Board Members and future new Members receive anti-oppression training:                      3 of 4 current Board Members and the SIA staff participated in the above noted “Diversity and Inclusion – From the Inside Out” training. The workshops focused on understanding individual and societal unconscious bias, and its relationship to race and institutional racism. Mechanisms were provided to assist in recognizing these biases with a goal of gaining a better awareness of how unconscious bias can negatively affect meaningful efforts for inclusion. Future Board Members and any staff or current Board Members that have not received this training will be required to participate as a condition of engagement (for new Members) or continued engagement (for current staff and Board Members) with SIA. The Board Member who was unable to attend will receive a summary of the workshops and will participate in a future workshop for new Board Members and / or staff.   

Conclusion on progress: SIA has and will continue to comply with this recommendation 

  1. That new Board members from the Weston community be actively recruited with the goal of achieving a minimum of 50% representation on the Board from members from the Weston community:  The Vice-Chair of the Board of Directors is a resident of Weston. The Board of Directors has struck a new Board Member Search Committee chaired by the Board Vice-Chair. Searches have commenced to fill at least four positions on the Board that will be vacant as of the end of March 2020. The expectation is that, by the end of the fiscal year in June that the representation from the Weston community will include 2 residents of Weston, one member scheduled to occupy a new residence in Weston in 2020 and 2 non-Weston based Members. It is further expected that at least 2 additional Board positions will be filled by Weston Residents with a timing goal of the end of 2020.   

Conclusion on progress: SIA is moving towards recommendation compliance and expects to exceed the recommended Board geographic makeup before the end of 2020. 

Other Matters
Role of Michael Kelly 

The final recommendation in the report was that Michael Kelly’s role with SIA would be re-evaluated after 3 months by the Board.  

As noted above, Mr. Kelly has completed all recommendations required of him and has taken additional steps personally beyond this.   

Mr. Kelly has confirmed his previous intention to retire in 2020 of which he first advised the Board of Directors in early 2019. He has provided formal notice that he will retire from SIA on March 31st, 2020. The Board of Directors has requested that he remain available for consultation for a further 3 months on an as-requested basis.   

Next Steps

Updates to this progress report will be provided on the SIA website at appropriate times before the end of 2020 on those matters outstanding as of the date of this review document. 

Sincerely,

Howard Goldby, 

Chair, Board of Directors

Shakespeare in Action

March 18, 2019

Statement from Board of Directors

        The Board of Directors (Board) of Shakespeare in Action (SIA) has conducted a thorough investigation of the incidents which occurred on November 9th and 11th, 2019 during rehearsals for the SIA production of “Sound and Fury”.

        Firstly, on behalf of SIA, the Board would like to apologize to the artists, partners, and community members affected. The Board also regrets the impact the subsequent cancellation of two productions in our first season has had on students, schools, artists, partners and the community.

        SIA is dedicated to growing the performing arts in Weston and surrounding communities, and understands that we cannot do this in a meaningful way without acknowledging the harm felt by those affected. The Board hopes that the recommendations outlined below can provide the beginning of a path forward to rebuild trust with our stakeholders so that we can continue to create fun, inclusive, and accessible performing arts experiences that reflect, engage, and celebrate this community.

Board Recommendations

        Regarding Michael Kelly:

        While the Board believes there was no deliberate intention on Michael Kelly’s part to cause harm, his actions on November 9th and 11th did cause significant harm to the actors, the playwright, Marcel Stewart, and the broader community. Furthermore, his actions are not consistent with the philosophy and mandate of SIA, as well as SIA’s internal anti-harassment policy and the Canadian Actors’ Equity Association’s “Not In Our Space Policy”.

        Given this, we find the only way to be consistent with SIA’s values and to honour the experience of those affected, is to have Michael Kelly immediately step aside from his role as Artistic Director.

        However, Michael Kelly will remain with SIA over the next three months (until February 29, 2020) to assist with the transition of the organization to David di Giovanni, as interim Artistic Director, with the following stipulations:

  1. That Michael will undergo sensitivity training;
  2. That Michael will not engage directly with any artistic personnel;
  3. That a member of the Board will assume the position of Officer to conduct those administrative duties previously managed by Michael Kelly.

During these three months the Board would like to have continued and meaningful dialogue with those involved.

At the end of the three months, Michael Kelly’s position with SIA will be reevaluated.

        Regarding The Position of Artistic Director:

        The Board is appointing David di Giovanni as interim Artistic Director.

        Regarding SIA and the Board The Board acknowledges that:

  1. SIA needs policies and practices to prevent and address personal and group oppression, discrimination and bullying;
  2. These policies and practices are necessary to ensure a safe space for all in both SIA’s operations and programming;
  3. SIA needs diversity on its management team and Board of Directors, as presently we do not adequately reflect the Weston community, our home. 

        The Board recommends:

  1. That the necessary policies and practices including, but not limited to, anti-oppression, anti-discrimination and anti-bullying, be developed and put into place and practice;
  2. Engaging a third party to audit the implementation of the necessary policies and practices;
  3. Engaging a third party to facilitate anti-oppression training;
  4. That all SIA staff and Board members – including future new members – receive this training;
  5. That new Board members from the Weston community be actively recruited with the goal of achieving a minimum of 50% representation on the Board from members from the Weston community.

        Conclusion:

        The Board, made up of only volunteers, believes it has exercised its duty to act in the best interest of SIA, by considering the myriad parties affected. Moving forward, we have a shared responsibility in this incident, and to ensure that this never happens again. We commit to learn and grow and do so in a way that promotes a safe and respectful space for all.

Sincerely,

The Board of Directors of Shakespeare in Action

Statement from Board of Directors, Shakespeare in Action 

ON NOVEMBER 12, 2019, THE BOARD OF DIRECTORS OF SHAKESPEARE IN ACTION (SIA) BECAME AWARE OF ALLEGED ACTIONS TAKEN BY ARTISTIC DIRECTOR MICHAEL KELLY DURING A REHEARSAL OF “SOUND AND FURY” ON NOVEMBER 9, 2019. HE HAS BEEN ACCUSED BY ACTORS WHO WERE EMPLOYED BY THE COMPANY OF MAKING A RACIST REMARK. 

The SIA Board has taken immediate steps to suspend Michael Kelly from his duties as Artistic Director of Shakespeare in Action and is conducting a full investigation into this incident. We are making every effort to speak with all parties involved and hope to conclude this investigation swiftly and fairly. We are also taking steps to ensure lasting organizational changes and improved policies are put in place to prevent this type of incident from occurring in the future. 

It is of paramount importance to the Board and Shakespeare in Action that its performance spaces are safe and inclusive for all people regardless of creed, ethnic origin, place of origin, race, colour, ancestry, citizenship, sex, sexual orientation and gender identity and expression. We believe it is our duty to ensure that all employees and actors feel safe, included and respected when working with the Company. 

We regret any pain caused to actors, stage crew, SIA staff and anyone else involved and are working to resolve this matter as quickly as possible. We anticipate concluding our investigation by November 25th, 2019 and will issue a further statement at that time.

Over the last two months, SIA took the following steps to align with the recommendations in Paulina’s report:

  • Strategic Planning session has been postponed to September to allow for more Board and Staff preparation over the summer;
  • All SIA staff participated in “Braiding Ourselves Back into Creation” workshop lead by local Indigenous artists Star Nahwegahbo and kaya dacosta, as we aim to draft a company-specific land acknowledgment;
  • Completed three Diversity Equity Inclusion and Belonging workshops with a focus on anti-Black racism with SIA Board, and three with SIA staff lead by Nada Johnson from Nada Johnson Centre for Development and Consulting
  • Continue the creation of an Equity Strategy, with a hyperfocus on creating an equity checklist for the audition process;
  • AD has begun the audit of key policies, to be audited by staff and Equity committee;
  • Commenced a working group of agency leads called the Queer Visibility Initiative that seeks to collect and share resources for 2SLGBTQ+ folks in northwest Toronto;
  • Begun researching health / dental plans for staff;

In the next month1, SIA is prioritizing the following action items: 

  • Pilot staff onboarding process for new hires;
  • Engage newly formed equity committee to audit HR policies (delayed);
  • Collectively draft company-specific land acknowledgment;
  • Create a policy work plan;
  • Begin to pilot equity strategy in audition design for summer show