Stories to Action: Co-creating Inclusive Pathways to Professional Theatre (Literature Review)

Gaps in the Literature

            There is a significant gap in academic study of diversity quotas or ‘hiring goals’ in Canada, and I found virtually no peer-reviewed information on the use of quotas in the entertainment industry. I found ample grey literature on both topics, leading me to believe it would benefit the field if organizations monitoring their participation in the 35//50 Initiative found a way to collaborate on a longitudinal case study over time. I also expected to find more peer-reviewed literature on EDI committees, but had to depend on just one academic source and a plethora of grey literature (including guide documents and tip sheets) available online. Relevant local data on the makeup of education faculties, and the diversity of student bodies was also hard to acquire. 


            Fererra (2019) spoke with conviction when she asked that the entertainment industry stop resisting the diversity of the real world. She implored each and every one of us to move forward with personal accountability, predicting that, “change will come when each of us has the courage to question our own fundamental values and beliefs and then see to it that our actions lead to our best intentions” (12:25). Wooden (2016) similarly asserted, “the disconnect occurs between value and action. Arts organizations would benefit from using data to quantify both their services and their organizational performance” (p. 3). Edmonton’s theatre institutions have verbally and publicly professed a readiness to value equity, diversity and inclusion. The next step is for actions to follow that are measured, transparent, collaborative with and accountable to community. These actions may focus on employment equity, but theatre makers also have an opportunity to support shifting paradigms about social difference. Gray (2016) implored the entertainment industry to see diversity and equity as more than a fixed outcome that can be measured, but rather a process, which “considers the inscription of racial meaning as endemic media work” (p. 251). A report will follow this literature review, outlining the results of a study, conducted with Edmonton’s theatre community, which asked artists to outline their experience of current and desired pathways to professional theatre in Edmonton. The report, titled Stories to Action: Co-creating Inclusive Pathways to Professional Theatre, will include recommendations from community and a simple monitoring framework to support institutions in moving forward (Killins, forthcoming). 

Next Page: References