So what is to be done with the state things are in? The Law of Unintended Consequences has made a real hash of how independent theatres of all colours can actually operate. Multi-disciplinary theatres are even in a worse bind since none of the agreements actually fit.
One tack that is being taken is there have been conversations between a group of indies and Equity to create a Toronto Agreement that would address the particular needs of that community. It started life from the NY agreement and with much input the process has at least started. There is no word yet how it is progressing and what kind of time line is in place.
I hold out some hope for this as the people on the indy side are smart, knowledgeable and determined. I am also impressed with the new ED at Equity. She seems to have a great amount of common sense. Alas that has not resulted in any clear changes but again it is still early days.
On the other hand what if there is no movement? What if the soon to be started CTA negotiations once again result in the jettisoning of platforms that are vital to the non white theatres? I can offer this illustration.
When I last drove across the country it was early fall. And all across Saskatchewan the fields were being burned of stubble. Farmers know that whether or not you plant, rotate or lay fallow it is usually good to burn the fields and boost the nitrogen in the soil.
And so in James Baldwin fashion I offer the solution that if Equity and PACT cannot find a way to move up to 2008 and to address the issues of the non-white theatres then we as a group should remove ourselves from those organizations.
Now that is a pretty provocative statement and a pretty final step. But really…Martin Luther King would never had had the appeal that he did if the alternative had not been Malcolm X. If there is no movement towards recognizing the needs of the changing communities then we need to absent ourselves from a futile process.
Frankly I believe that it is time to make the culturally diverse issues a part of the main stream discussions and to take it out of breakout sessions and sidebar dialogues. If not then we will be forever marginalized.
At this point in time no theatre venues are run by a culturally diverse theatre company. None. In the entire country. And since the CTA and its sidekick agreements grew out of Equity and the venued theatres needs and desires there has been little room or progress for the rest of the ecosystem.
So maybe it’s time to burn some fields and start things over again.