The 35//50 Initiative
A MESSAGE TO THE COMMUNITY
Forte Musical Theatre would like to acknowledge that we have been approached by a coalition of BIPOC artists inviting us to commit to the 35//50 Initiative, which asks our artistic community to take steps towards a more equitable, diverse, inclusive and accessible future in the performing arts. One of the central goals of the Initiative is for local arts organizations to be made up of a minimum of 35% BIPOC and 50% female and non-binary members by the 2024-25 season.
We share the Initiative’s goal of greater representation of Calgary’s diversity as we create our shows and it’s an issue that Forte has been committed to, and taking action on, since 2014. Many times, we’ve been successful in reflecting our city’s diversity in our casts, but we’ve also failed. However, thirteen of our last seventeen productions have included BIPOC artists. In addition, our board and production staff have maintained the 50% ratio of female and non-binary representation since our inception.
I recognize that there's still a lot of work to do, especially when considering including BIPOC artists in positions on the technical and artistic leadership teams, and among Forte’s board members, but I look forward to making this a priority as we continue to grow as an organization.
My heart has ached over the past few months as I’ve listened to close friends and colleagues describe the systemic racism they’ve encountered in our industry. I was blind to so much of their pain and would never want to be a part of a system that perpetuates such treatment and I wholeheartedly support the goals of the 35//50 initiative.
In the near term, the 35//50 Initiative has asked arts organizations to track the numbers of our administrative and artistic teams of those who identify as BIPOC and those who identify as female or non-binary. Forte commits to gather this information on an ongoing basis starting this season and will make this information publicly available every year at the end of our artistic season.
As our organization returns to operations this September, I will bring the recommendations of the Initiative to the Forte board so we can continue this work. Some of these are already reflected in existing Forte policies and others challenge us to do better. I look forward to collaborating with our arts community to make the goals of the 35//50 Initiative a reality.
Artistic Director - Forte Musical Theatre Guild