Fighting Systemic Racism

News, resources and commitments

Many Soleymanlou appointed as New Board Member

Last Update: June 8th, 2022

The NTS’ Board of Directors is welcoming Mani Soleymanlou as a new member.
Iranian-born actor, dramaturg and director from Quebec, Mani Soleymanlou graduated from the Interprétation program in 2008. He began his career as an actor, performing under the direction of renowned directors such as Brigite Haentjens, Alice Ronfard, Serge Denoncourt and Olivier Kemeid (Écriture dramatique, 2002).
In 2011, he founded his theater company Orange Noyée. It is through the productions of Orange Noyée that he presents his singular and rich creative universe. Since September 2021, Mani Soleymanlou is the Artistic Director of the National Arts Centre’s French Theatre in Ottawa.

Community Announcements

June 8, 2022 | Many Soleymanlou appointed as New Board Member

Last Update: June 8th, 2022

The NTS’ Board of Directors is welcoming Mani Soleymanlou as a new member.

Iranian-born actor, dramaturg and director from Quebec, Mani Soleymanlou graduated from the Interprétation program in 2008. He began his career as an actor, performing under the direction of renowned directors such as Brigite Haentjens, Alice Ronfard, Serge Denoncourt and Olivier Kemeid (Écriture dramatique, 2002).
In 2011, he founded his theater company Orange Noyée. It is through the productions of Orange Noyée that he presents his singular and rich creative universe. Since September 2021, Mani Soleymanlou is the Artistic Director of the National Arts Centre’s French Theatre in Ottawa.

May 1st, 2022 | A first year of existence for the Indigenous Advisory Circle

One year ago, the Indigenous Advisory Circle was founded, after several years of conversations with Alisa Palmer, Artistic Director of the English Section and Director of the Acting program and the Residencies at the National Theatre School Of Canada.

The Circle is composed of a diverse group of experienced Indigenous artists collaborating with NTS in multiple ways. At the heart of the Indigenous Advisory Circle is a mission of sharing Indigenous cultures:

  • Integrating Indigenous practices into the pedagogy of professional training programs
  • Braid together the French and English sections through Indigenous artistic practices
  • Provide awareness of cultural and artistic appreciation through Indigenous worldview

In its first year of existence, the Indigenous Advisory Circle organized four activities highlighting cultural and artistic practices of diverse Canadian Indigenous communities. The entire NTS student body, as well as several employees of the administration, participated in the Indigenous Advisory Circle programming. Here are the four activities that were organized this year:

  1. For the first time in the history of NTS, Kevin Deer, a knowledge keeper from the Kanien’kehá:ka Nation (Mohawk), was invited to NTS to welcome the entire student body in both the French and English sections. This was a bringing together, a gathering of community, as well as an opportunity to better appreciate the history of the area.
  1. Hoop dancing workshops lead by Barbara Kaneratonni Diabo, Kanien'keha:ka (Mohawk) choreographer and dancer. In the workshops, Barbara shared some of the teachings she learned about Indigenous cultural dances - both Haudenosaunee and powwow styles. She also drew from her creativity to bring other inspired ways of moving that she explores in her work. The students from the French and English Sections were mixed together in order to participate to the workshops.
  1. Discussion panel “Appreciation vs Appropriation” hosted by the Indigenous Advisory Circle and moderated by Floydd Ricketts, Head of Music of the English Section. The panel was composed of IBPOC (Indigenous, Black, People of Color) artists from Canada and the United States. The panel discussed different topics centered on the inclusion of Indigenous traditional knowledge in artistic practice. The fulsome discussion served as a guide to how the individual students at the school can use the embodied practice shared to inform their own creative process without them replicating the content shared.
  1. Appreciation of Inuit culture and music workshops presented by Sylvia Cloutier (Indigenous Artist in Residence, 2020), a multi-disciplined artist from Kuujjuaq, Nunavik (northern Quebec), currently residing in Montreal. Together, students from the French and English sections along with staff members discovered core elements of Inuit culture and artistic practice.
April 19, 2022 | The National Theatre School of Canada receives the Mosaic Award from the Union des Artistes

The National Theatre School of Canada (NTS) is the recipient of the 2022 Mosaic Award from Quebec’s Union des Artiste (UDA). The award was presented to NTS in recognition of its efforts to increase the representation of IBPOC artists in the English and French sections.

According to the coordinator of the Mosaic Committee, Isabelle dos Santos, “NTS provides real leadership in inclusive theatre education, whether through changes in internal practices and existing programs or through the creation of new and innovative programs and projects with strong community engagement across the country.”

Many NTS initiatives were applauded by the UDA, notably the Indigenous Artists in Residence Program, the Artistic Leadership Residency, the pilot project New Pathways, the Theatre Engaging Communities Program and the DramaFest.

While NTS can be proud of the work that has been done, there is still a long way to go, as Gideon Arthurs, CEO of NTS, stated: “We can't say mission accomplished. Not everything is perfect. There are still challenges in integrating IBPOC students into NTS. We are also working on other types of diversity, whether it be sexual and gender diversity or body diversity. In short, this is just the beginning...”

February 26th, 2022 | Woven Stories: Nuit Blanche at the NTS

As part of the Montreal’s Nuit Blanche of the Festival Montréal en lumière, the Community Engagement Department of the National Theatre School organized a multidisciplinary cabaret in the café of the Monument-National campus, in collaboration with Claudia Parent, Public Engagement Coordinator of MAI (Montréal Arts Interculturels). The evening's programming was conceived by four curators representing different Montreal communities: Jani Lauzon, Associated Director of the English Section and Chair of the Indigenous Advisory Circle, represented the Indigenous communities, Marissa Blair the Yiddish communities, Sophie Gee the Chinese communities and Marie-Claude Garneau the Feminist communities.

The four curators selected the thirteen artists who performed at this multidisciplinary cabaret, hosted by Kama La Mackerel. Music, dance, storytelling, performance, opera and readings were presented. Here are all the artists who participated in the Woven Stories evening: Skawennati, Stephen Silverbear McComber, James Viveiros, Jeroen Lindeman, Vanessa Marcoux, Michelle Heisler, Hua Li, Michelle Jiang, Wong Koon Ying, Nathalie Doummar, Phara Thibault, Pascale Rafie et Marie Samuel.

Woven Stories was preceded by a Zine Chat and Creation event, led by the collaborative artist Marie Samuel. Participants were able to put their stories on paper through the creation of zines (small books). The willing participants could hand in their zines to Marie Samuel, who will present all them at an exhibition in April and May 2022.

September 30, 2021 | National Day for Truth then Reconciliation

On this first National Day for Truth then Reconciliation, in lieu of an institutional declaration, we are sharing this statement from the school’s Indigenous Advisory Circle:

Thursday September 30th is the National day for Truth then Reconciliation.

The strikethrough is important as First Nations, Métis and Inuit people are taking back the leadership as we move forward. We cannot have Reconciliation without first learning and embracing the truth. We are still in the truth stage. There is so much more to learn and understand before we can truly reconcile.

Today we invite you to do some research. There are countless resources available that are written by Indigenous people. In the future the Indigenous Circle at NTS will be putting together a list of suggested sites. In the meantime, we invite you to make the commitment to your own education.

 

Things you should know about Orange Shirt Day:

Orange Shirt Day references a real orange shirt taken from a residential school survivor. Now in her late 40s, Phyllis Webstad still remembers the new orange shirt that her grandmother bought for her when she was six years old. She wore it proudly on her first day at a church-run residential school in Williams Lake, B.C. But then school authorities stripped her of her clothes, cut her hair and took her shirt away. She never got it back.

Orange Shirt Day aims to raise awareness of the residential school system in Canada.

Wearing an orange shirt reminds us of the impact of residential schools still felt today

We invite you to wear something orange on Thursday in solidarity.

We are also providing a link to two videos. The first is a spoken word poem by James Thunder called "Dear Younger Me, an open letter to my younger self":

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=12KZIBhgWIM&t=1s  (English only)

and "Parole autochtone 224 - Les victimes des pensionnat", spoken word creation by Melissa Mollen Dupuis:

https://youtu.be/64NeGIdPGv4  (French only)

July 1st, 2021 | July 1st is not a day of celebration but a moment of reflection and commemoration

July 1st is not a day of celebration but a moment of ​​​reflectio​n and commemoration. We stand in solidarity with Indigenous people during this difficult time and will continue to work with our Indigenous Advisory Council and community to play our part in the reconciliation process over the years to come.

March 26, 2021 | NTS in Support of AAPI Community

Dear Student Community,

NTS stands in love and solidarity with the AAPI community who are facing increasing violence and hatred every day.  This racist, anti-Asian aggression, present for centuries in Canada, must end and those responsible held to account.  We feel deeply for any members of our community who continue to experience the hurt, anxiety, uncertainty and fear from these acts. While we grapple with these rising incidents, we remain committed to ensuring that all members of our community are valued, respected and supported.  

To our all of our students, staff, and faculty, please know that additional support resources are being made available to you during these times.     

 Gideon, Alisa and Fred

March 25 | Equity, Diversity, Inclusion Advisory Committee (EDIAC) Composition Announcement

We are pleased to announce the composition of the Equity, Diversity, Inclusion Advisory Committee (EDIAC). This new committee will provide leadership to working groups on matters related to diversity, inclusivity, equity, decolonization, and the elimination of discrimination at the National Theatre School.

Permanent Members of EDIAC

Arthurs, Gideon – CEO

Bennett, Daniel – Alum, PDTA; Associate Artist of PDTA

Devonish, Terrie-Lynne – Board and Diversity, Inclusion, Nomination and Governance committee member

Dubois, Frédéric – Artistic Director of the French section and the Interprétation program

Ide-Bergeron, Mayumi – Third-year Student, Set and Costume design

Isi bhakomen – Third-year Student, Acting

Kierulf, Erika – Producer - Arts Engagement

Larivière, Mellissa – Alum, Interétation program

Lauzon, Jani – Associate Director of the Acting Program.

Ledesma, Tiffany – Third-year Student, PDTA

Nkuni, Berry Zinga – CEO’s Assistant

Palmer, Alisa – Artistic Director of the English Section, Director of the Acting and Residency Programs

Zourhlal, Ismail – Second-year Student, Acting

The Committee Terms of References can be accessed here.

 

With the support of the permanent members, the EDIAC working groups will work on the following priority areas:

  1. Reviewing current pedagogy and curricula to i) evaluate current practices in place and ii) propose new approaches, content, and criteria to ensure that the School’s training supports equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) and anti-racist principles;
  2. Assessing human resources policies and procedures to ensure that hiring practices, remuneration, staff retention, and HR policies support EDI and anti-racist principles;
  3. Understanding and improving the student experience to ensure that the School’s training and work environments are safe and adapted to the lived realities of the School’s diverse community, with a specific focus on ensuring the safety of marginalized community members;
  4. Updating NTS’s values, policies, and procedures, including learning contracts, conflict resolution procedures, student and staff handbooks, and codes of conduct, to ensure that they include explicitly anti-racist practices, perspectives, and frameworks.      

We are working hard and need your support to build, grow, and sustain our committee. We will continue to keep you updated.

December 17 | Update on Financial Plan and EDI Committee

This is the summary of the work undertaken so far.

Update on Financial Plan

Today, the National Theatre School announced a $1 million investment over the next 5 years, for anti-racism and decolonization projects across the School. This investment will be used to start addressing the systemic racism within the school by providing funding for initiatives and outcomes-based activities. A more detailed financial plan will be shared as the initiatives are identified.

Update on EDI Committee

The Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Committee (EDIAC) has been created to ensure the work on a number of key focus areas. This Action Committee is composed of a diverse, and representative range of stakeholders and will share its progress transparently with the community. The committee will oversee the work of external experts and working groups reflecting on a range of subjects. The first meeting of EDIAC is to be held in January 2021 and the first mandate of the committee will be to define a shared vocabulary, the governance of the committee and it’s guiding principles. The four initial focus areas are:

  1. Reviewing current pedagogy and curriculum
  2. Assessing human resources policies and procedures
  3. Understanding and improving the student experience
  4. Updating NTS’s values, policies, and procedures

We will announce the initial composition of the EDIAC in January 2021. Other invited members will be added on an ongoing basis.

September 11 | Update on Actions Taken to Dismantle Systemic Racism at NTS

September 11, 2020

After a series of public statements made by students, community members and the school between June 26 and July 24, a sequence of meetings were held between Gideon Arthurs (CEO of NTS), Lisa Karen Cox (signatory of the initial letters) and representatives of the IBPOC student coalition. Via these conversations, the need for further work and deeper support for students within the institution was clear. Due to a number of unavoidable circumstances, some of the work underway has taken some time longer than desired, but the following actions are underway or completed:

  • Stacy Delince has joined the NTS team as Project Manager and Consultant to support both the School’s administration and the IBPOC Student Coalition. Lisa Karen Cox has also been engaged as an advisor.
  • To address concerns of a lack of support for students and to add new resources to the renewal of systems, services and policies, the role of Student Advisor, a full-time position, was created with a hiring process underway as of September 11, 2020. This person will support students in navigating the various services that are available to them and act as their counsel in situations where they may feel unsafe, unsure of how to proceed or in need of guidance. See the posting here: https://ent-nts.ca/en/student-advisor.
  • The Board of Directors of NTS passed a resolution recognising the need for deeper investment in antiracism and decolonizing work, acknowledging the history of the NTS and its contribution to systems of supremacy, and engaging the organization to deploy the financial and human resources necessary to transform the organization.
  • A communications plan was created that includes bimonthly updates to the website and monthly updates sent via newsletter. Students and staff will automatically receive these updates, and community members can sign up here and tick the "School's News" box: https://forms.ent-nts.ca/en/newsletter.
  • Through consultation with various experts and with the view of advancing more rapidly than would be possible with a comprehensive institutional audit and action plan, an Action Committee will be created to ensure that the work on a number of key focus areas is aligned. This Action Committee will be composed of a broad, diverse, and representative range of stakeholders (students, alumni, teachers, staff, board members, etc.) and will share its progress transparently with the community via the website and monthly newsletter. This committee will oversee the work of external experts and working groups reflecting on a broad range of subjects, beginning with the priority focus areas of:

- Curriculum review: working with the pedagogical team to review current pedagogy and propose new frameworks.
- Student experience: reviewing and improving services offered to students and creating systems within the School to address issues of anti-IBPOC bias.
- Policy review: reviewing and improving the NTS Values Statement and the policies that support those values, including student learning contracts, employee and students guides, and a new code of behaviour, in addition to examining existing systems for conflict resolution to ensure that they are aligned with the revised policies.
- Human resources review: examining hiring and retention practises to continue to build a more diverse work force at the School.

  • Stacy Delince has completed a comprehensive review of the School’s current codes of conduct, student and employee guides/guidelines, and other policies to support the creation of new working guidelines that will ensure the safety of students and faculty throughout this period of transition.
  • Alisa Palmer, Artistic Director, English Section, is honoured to welcome Jani Lauzon as Associate Director of the Acting Program. Working in close collaboration with the Acting Team, Jani will help realize current training as well as developing opportunities for improvement, advancement and transformation of NTS’ acting training with a particular focus on inclusive and anti-racist practices in order to shape the future of the program. Jani brings additional IBPOC perspective to the Team, and will also be directly involved with the Indigenous Research and Outreach Project with a special focus on Indigenous Artist in Residence program.

The following actions are underway:

  • The IBPOC Student Coalition will host a meeting in mid-September to keep the student body informed of ongoing work.
  • The finalization of the terms of reference for the Action Committee and recruitment of its membership.
  • By September 18, the creation and distribution of preliminary guidelines (see above) that will ensure the safety of students and staff throughout this period of transition.
  • A revised and clearer format for tracking commitments, deadlines, and changes to pledged actions will be posted on the website, including reviewed deadlines for the above-mentioned work.

For more information, please contact Stacy Delince at stacydelince@ent-nts.ca.

I would like to extend thanks to the students, staff, and the Board Directors who have contributed to this work so far.

On behalf of NTS,

Gideon Arthurs

July 24 | Update on the anti-racism movement from the IBPOC* Artist Student Coalition

Dear NTS community,

 

The IBPOC* Artist Student Coalition would like to thank everyone for the immense support we have received in our recent activism and fight to dismantle systemic racism at the National Theatre School of Canada (NTS). The strength of our community gives us confidence to push forward in our movement.

 

A few updates from our organization:

 

  1. We have changed our coalition’s name from BIPOC Artist Student Coalition to IBPOC Artist Student Coalition. It is important that we recognize Indigenous folx as the original caretakers of this If we are to represent Indigenous students in our advocacy, their voices must be at the forefront.

  2. The CEO at NTS, Gideon Arthurs, released a statement on July 21st 2020 in response to ours and Lisa Karen Cox’s letters to the Gideon has expressed his commitment to listening and engaging with the IBPOC students and thus commencing the process of shifting the organization to create a more anti-oppressive school environment. We thank Gideon for his response and for stepping up to the task.

  3. Student representatives from our coalition will be meeting with Gideon on Tuesday July 28th 2020 to discuss Lisa Karen Cox’s letter and assist with amending NTS’ action plan. There will be representatives from NTS’s Indigenous, Black and Asian caucuses along with a representative from NTS’s international community at this Lisa Karen Cox will also be present at this meeting, assisting as an advisor.

 

We look forward to continuing this conversation with Gideon. It is important that we hold our heads high in our activism. NTS must, and will change. We are committed to having IBPOC voices be heard, recognized and supported at the National Theatre School of Canada.

 

To read Gideon Arthurs’ statement, please click here.

To receive further updates on our movement, please click here.

 

Signed,

IBPOC Artist Student Coalition

 

*IBPOC - an acronym that stands for Indigenous, Black and People of Colour.

July 21 | Statement from the National Theatre School of Canada's CEO

I am humbled and inspired by the conversations I have had in recent weeks sparked by a series of letters from Lisa Karen Cox and our IBPOC* student caucuses.  The courage and clarity of the ideas being brought forward have offered the National Theatre School, and me as a leader, an incredible opportunity to listen, learn and change.  NTS has so much more to do to dismantle the institutional, systemic racism that it is built on, and, thanks to their invitation to dig deeper, I am more committed to this work than ever before. Personally and institutionally, we must begin by listening to and understanding the experiences of our IBPOC students, alumnae, staff, and board members so that we can move beyond platitudes and take real action.  To that end, I am grateful for the illuminating and constructive conversation I had last week with Lisa, and am looking forward to hearing from our IBPOC caucuses through mediated conversations. I hear you and we are beginning now, starting with a meeting this afternoon with student representatives. 

These conversations, and many more, will be the foundations of the change we must bring about.  We will engage students in the process and work to enact action items collectively. In case it is not clear to our community, and especially to those who do not believe that this work should be a priority for our organization: NTS must and will change if it is to continue to exist and maintain its position as the premier theatre school in Canada. This overdue change will require us to make a bold shift and rethink our organization. As a national organization, we have the responsibility to listen, to understand, to amplify, to serve and to centre the voices that our institution has not made space for.  Only then can we start to collectively imagine what the theatre of tomorrow can look like.

We do not have all the answers to the important questions posed in the recent letters. We will take the time to listen to our community and update our action plan based on the feedback and conversations we have in the coming days.  As we learn more, we will continue to be transparent and share everything on our website at https://ent-nts.ca/en/fighting-systemic-racism

Once more, I personally want to thank our students for this inspiring and necessary provocation.

 

Gideon Arthurs

CEO

 

*IBPOC: Acronym that stands for Indigenous, Black, and People of Color.

July 13 | BIPOC Artist Student Coalition Response to NTS' Declaration to Fight Systemic Racism

Dear Gideon, Alisa, Frederic, NTS students, alumni and community at large,

The National Theatre School of Canada (NTS) published a statement on July 10th 2020 outlining actions they will take to fight systemic racism within the school. There are various concerns that the BIPOC Artist Student Coalition (BIPOC ASC) would like to address in response to this statement. Please reflect upon the following:

1. There is no direct response to the specific requests written in Lisa Karen Cox’s letter, sent on July 7th 2020. We were led to understand that NTS’ statement was in the works before Lisa’s letter was sent and posted publicly. If this is true, were BIPOC students consulted in these conversations prior to releasing this statement? And if not, how will NTS work to build trust and participatory action between the administration and the student body? For NTS to adequately represent the interests of the student body in the fight against systemic racism, our voices need to be heard.

2. The action plan NTS has outlined will not be completely implemented until March 2021. Therefore, BIPOC students will be entering with anxieties about their current school environment this September. Given the recent injustices faced by Black, Indigenous and POC lives globally, students need immediate protection and support from the institutions they exist in. The school will not have made active changes to dismantle the ongoing systemic racism that is perpetuated. The tangibility of this plan is very distant and thus grants the question: how seriously is the institution taking the BIPOC students’ concerns? Are these concerns a priority for the administration?

3. NTS should clarify what the specifications of the ombudsperson are at the school. The students at the school have found the current ombudsperson to be inaccessible, while others have expressed that they were never made aware of this resource to begin with. Therefore, the service is not working as intended. Why won't the “Ombud’s-service for BIPOC students, staff, and faculty to safely report experiences of racism or exclusion” be in place at the beginning of the school year?

4. Did NTS consult with the faculty before posting this statement? If not, then why? Given the role that the faculty will play in implementing the action plan, how will NTS include the faculty in the planning process? How does the school intend to train and prepare their instructors as they interact most with the BIPOC students?

Ultimately, the statement by the NTS administration is not a response to Lisa’s letter or the BIPOC Artist Student Coalition statement of support. We want to know why the school did not take the time to reflect and appropriately respond to these requests, in accordance with the given deadline of July 20th, 2020. As per the requests in Lisa’s letter and our statement of support, there are actionable and immediate steps the schools can take to begin fostering a safer and more equitable environment.

Now more than ever, reflection is crucial as a means of understanding how racism is perpetuated within institutions and we urge NTS to respond to these concerns raised.

In the future, we hope the school will meet with us to discuss plans and responses that impact us directly.

To find Lisa Karen Cox’s response please click here.

To receive further updates on this movement please click here.

Sincerely,

BIPOC Artist Student Coalition

July 12 | Lisa Karen Cox Response to NTS' Declaration to Fight Systemic Racism

Dear Ms. Palmer, Mr. Dubois and Mr. Arthurs:

"Life is very short. What we have to do must be done in the now"

- Audre Lorde

Thank you for your recent posting of NTS’ Declaration to Fight Systemic Racism and for your kind words. While it is a thorough document, the Declaration does not respond to my letter of July 7, 2020, particularly as the letter indicated the time is now. Your Declaration of July 10, 2020 is lacking in immediate action. It indicates “Much more to come very soon.” Can you specify a date?

Contemporary allyship is not about you “taking the burden of this work” on your own shoulders and assuming you can complete it on your own. Contemporary allyship, or co-conspiracy, is about immediate action; action that involves understanding the urgency and risk; action taken together with underrepresented communities. So I ask:

1. Did you consult with your BIPoC students and faculty before the Declaration was published? How will you involve them going forward?

2. Can the Call for Proposals (Audit & Action Plan) be completed by July 21, 2020 instead of August 21, 2020?

3. Can the Ombuds-service for BIPoC students, staff and faculty be in place, with a shared process by the first day of class? Otherwise BIPoC will begin the school year with anxiety, fear and mistrust.

In regards to the audit, consider the following: Within White colonial narratives, there is a history of not believing BIPoC trauma, especially that of Black and Indigenous peoples. There is always a need to “prove” that the trauma exists. The future audit without any immediate action supports and perpetuates that narrative. As a leadership team, you need “proof” from an outside source before you are willing to take any action. This desire for proof and documentation, beyond the numerous personal stories and concerns that have been shared with you, reflects an oppressive mindset. There is nothing stopping you from implementing actions immediately as outlined in my first letter.

As per your mission, National Theatre School is an educational institution. As an educational institution, there should be someone in the leadership team that is considering and applying what we know from educational research and philosophy. Essential pedagogical approaches integrated into my first letter, that align with your mission, have not been addressed; concerns involving culturally responsive pedagogy, the hidden curriculum, differentiated instruction, gradual release and humanistic approaches. These are basic tenets of contemporary education. What are your new expectations and when are you going to explicitly share these expectations with your instructors?

It is apparent from your Declaration that currently NTS is being run like a business instead of a school. Many of the suggestions from my letter are free or involve low financial cost. They require a mental shift and emotional commitment. Based on your Declaration, much of the culture shift will be dependent on the (costly) audit, meaning that any culture shift is on hold for at least 6 months, until the audit is complete. Start that shift now.

I appreciate that “Over the past seven years, NTS has been working diligently to build a more inclusive and diverse school”, yet here we are. Seven years is a long time for your BIPoC community to be waiting for deep change, for change beyond the aesthetics of admitting students from the BIPoC community. Seven years is a long time for the community at large to be waiting. Despite the support from over 280 NTS Community members, it is clear from your Declaration that NTS is unaware of the urgency of this change. There are things you can do now. Your students deserve it now. Your alumnae deserve it now. Your faculty deserve it now. You deserve it now. Don’t wait for an audit. DO SOMETHING NOW and invite some BIPoCs to the discussion to help you.

I look forward to receiving a public response to my letters by July 20, 2020 acknowledging personal and institutional accountability, and specifying when a meeting (with BIPOC student representatives and an intermediary) to discuss next steps and immediate action will take place.

Sincerely,

Lisa Karen Cox, O.C.T., M. Sc. Ed.,
Practicing Theatre Artist and Artist Educator

Written with support from BIPoC Student Artist Coalition at the National Theatre School.

July 9 | NTS Declaration to Fight Systemic Racism

In our last email to students, we promised a comprehensive clarification of our institutional response to the ongoing anti-racist protests, and since then we received an open letter, signed by 250 alumni and students of the school, requesting that further action be taken.



Recent protests have accelerated a reckoning across our sector, forcing organizations and leaders to be held to account for their participation in the systemized racism faced by BIPOC artists and communities. This holding to account has been difficult but overdue, creating new opportunities for discourse and, more importantly, change.



However, the burden of this work has once again rested on the shoulders of BIPOC community members who are forced to do the heavy lifting of educating organizations, despite the imbalance of capacity between those individuals and well-resourced institutions, and advocating for themselves, despite the precarity and potential harm they may face in so doing. This work has been rendered all the more difficult by the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic which has denied us all the chance to labour together, in person. We are grateful for all of those doing the work. We are committed to taking the burden of this work on our shoulders and supporting BIPOC artists with the full force of our organizational capacity. We are committed to making the work of dismantling racist systems a priority for the organization.



The National Theatre School is a product of these systems. It was built on an understanding of white supremacy that has long attempted to advance the interests of a dominant culture by excluding and minimizing marginalized voices. In so doing, it has accrued substantial resources, often at the cost of the communities it has excluded. It has developed traditions, practices and pedagogy that have sought to dictate what theatre in this country should be and exclude practices that did not reinforce that view of a dominant culture. These are the legacies of systemic racism and the colonial system, and NTS has been a full beneficiary of its privilege.



The School’s founding mission was to seed a Canadian theatre that was separate from its colonial parentage. NTS has contributed to counter cultural movements over the decades and the artists it has trained (and the artists who trained them) have fought to oppose our colonial history. However, while this was a founding principle for the School, we recognize that NTS has not been a place where everyone feels served, safe or even welcome. We must look at the full legacy of this institution, reflect on and repair what is flawed and be inspired by its potential.



Over the past seven years, NTS has been working diligently to build a more inclusive and diverse school, ensconcing those principles in an institutional statement of values, and naming them as organizational priorities in our 2019 business plan, but now we must dig deeper and actualize anti-racist and decolonizing practices that will transform the whole school. We recognize as well that in this work, we have not decentered whiteness and that our BIPOC community members have struggled and suffered. We are sorry for the role NTS has played in this. Going forward we will reposition the School as a manifestly anti-racist and anti-colonial organization, working with BIPOC expertise to make the difficult changes that will be required to create an organization that not only refuses to participate in these systems but works actively to undo them, in our sector and beyond.



To that end, we begin this next chapter with the following actions in the immediate future, with much more to be announced in the coming weeks:

July 24, 2020

A rigorous communications plan that will include a new section on our website and monthly email communiques distributed across our community to hold the school accountable to its objectives.

August 21, 2020

Publish a Call For Proposals to find an external expert to help develop an anti-racism and decolonization Audit & Action Plan, to be selected and hired within four weeks.

September 14, 2020

Publish a full report on current EDI*, anti-racism, and decolonized initiatives in place.

September 28, 2020

Publish an initial three-year financial plan, to be adjusted per recommendation from the Action Plan in development.

Announce, to accompany our current Ombudsperson, an Ombud’s-service for BIPOC students, staff, and faculty to safely report experiences of racism or exclusion.

October 15, 2020

Publish preliminary report on Student Bursary Program review, working to ensure financial access to training is equitably distributed.

Before January 2021

Publish methodology, preliminary report and audit of Anti-Racism and Decolonization Action Plan.

Before March 2021

Complete Action Plan, including review with implementation and financing plan for next 24 months.



This work will be underpinned by our commitment to:

  • Listening and Consultation: nothing can advance without broad and deep conversation and consultation with our community, our stakeholders, our partners, and our BIPOC students and alumnae;
  • Full transparency and accountability: keeping our community informed of the work being done (and not done), with real consequences in place for a failure to advance on our objectives;
  • Alignment: being specific about the different perspectives within the school and creating a shared plan that will be applied across and at every level of the organization;
  • Investment: acknowledging the real costs of this work, remunerating those doing the work, and creating a financial plan that will support it.

Through this, we hope to create greater transparency about the work that is happening and needs to happen with greater conviction at the school.  We understand this moment as the beginning of a new chapter of transformation, possibility, and growth for the National Theatre School.  We commit to supporting our extended community through this process and look forward to engaging with all of you in substantive ways to become the organization we believe we can be.



Gideon, Alisa and Frédéric



*EDI: Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.

**BIPOC: Acronym that stands for Black, Indigenous, and People of Color.

July 8 | BIPOC Artist Student Coalition Statement of Support in Response to the Letter Sent by Lisa Karen Cox

To whom it may concern,

Over the past couple weeks many students and alumni of The National Theatre School of Canada (NTS) have reflected upon the statements made in regards to the most recent Black Lives Matter protests and uprisings. Many folx felt that the statement released was incongruous to their own experiences at the institution. The statement did not take responsibility for the anti Blackness perpetuated by the institution and its lack of support to Black, Indigenous and POC students. There was no accountability or self reflection as it provided no actionable items. The BIPOC Artist Student Coalition is in full support of Lisa Karen Cox’s letter asking for change.

The BIPOC Artist Student Coalition was created as a means to voice our needs while ensuring the anonymity of it’s student body. This is a vessel for students across discipline to advocate for themselves without having to compromise their education, as we attend this institution to learn, not to fight for our humanity. The BIPOC Artist Student Coalition will advocate for the needs of students of colour in the future.

The BIPOC Artist Student Coalition asks NTS; What does ''ongoing solidarity with BIPOC students, teachers, artistic leaders, staff and community members'' mean when so many of our experiences of discrimination have not been addressed? What does ‘listening’ and ‘taking action’ mean when we have felt that our concerns have not been taken seriously?

We want to hold the institution accountable in its claim that they ''commit to supporting [POC’s] in the ongoing struggle for justice''. We want to know what resources and tools they are willing to provide. And as a student body and community of alumni we want consultation and transparency surrounding institutional anti oppression conversations.

We would like to thank Lisa Karen Cox for her support and courage in writing this letter. We thank her for her advocacy on behalf of the student body and NTS community at large and for the tangibility of the action items she has outlined in the letter addressed to the school. This letter gives us the confidence to stand in our truth.

We would also like to thank Marguerite Hudon, Erika Prevost, Sarah Gagné and David Noël for their translation of the letter, from English to French. We are so grateful for the immense support we have received from the NTS student body and community, reflected in the over 250 signatures. This is an indicator of the power of community and the kind of support that is behind us. This community is eager to hear the response on July 20th.

If you would like to stay updated on this initiative and the actions taken by NTS, please click here.

Signed,

BIPOC Artist Student Coalition
The Asian Caucus at NTS
The Indigenous Caucus at NTS
The Black Caucus at NTS

July 7 | Open letter from Lisa Karen Cox to National Theatre School of Canada regarding their BLM statement

Dear Ms. Palmer, Mr. Dubois and Mr. Arthurs,

Further to my conversation with Ms. Palmer , and NTS’ acceptance of a student based (in part) on my recommendation, I am reaching out to you. Based on recent communications I have had with NTS students past and present, I am very concerned.

Amongst the students from underrepresented communities, I have heard a theme of repression, oppression and dismissal regarding their time at NTS. This is a stark contrast to the message written by the NTS leadership team that is posted on the NTS website. It is not enough to simply admit BIPOC students into your institution. NTS must create an environment in which these students, and all students, can thrive. This requires NTS to reexamine all facets of the institution; in particular its hidden or invisible curriculum.

 

As gatekeepers, it is important to ask yourselves:

1. Does our curriculum, methods and praxis support the cultural perspectives and values of our diverse student population and the students we seek to admit in the future?

2. In regards to the core belief of “treating students as professionals”:

a. Are all professionals within our industry treated appropriately? Systemically and personally? Should we mimic and/or acknowledge any disparity?

b. Have we supported all students as they transition from student to professional?

3. What do we want the professional theatre community to look like?

4. What do we want the professional theatrical ecology and culture to be?

In my opinion, educational institutions should not mimic the toxic and oppressive

environment of the professional theatre industry but serve as agents of change; fuelled by a vision of the near-future, where the next generation of artistic leaders is shaped. As such, this letter is not looking to tell the trauma stories of the past, but to help guide you toward the future. A not-so-distant future with an anti-racist len. Ultimately, systemic anti-oppression is not about compliance, but about organizational culture. Below are suggestions that NTS can implement immediately to shift its current model to an anti-oppressive culture.

 

STUDENTS FIRST MINDSET: Ideological and policy shifts that can be taken immediately



1. Recognize that White (eurocentric) is not neutral

Eurocentric models are equally as political as engaging in anti-racism and anti-oppression models. The current decision to maintain a Eurocentric lens does not support student experience nor is it innovative. All students will benefit from an anti-oppressive lens and learning environment.

a. The politics in French Canada are different from English Canada. How will NTS as an institution reconcile this difference?

b. How are the learning environments in each department supporting their Black, Brown & Indigenous students?

c. How is each department supporting students with diverse backgrounds (with a particular emphasis on Black, Indigenous and disabled students). This is particularly important in the design departments, as they interact with the Acting Department.

d. How can we alleviate the undue burden that falls on BIPOC students when having to advocate for more equitable learning environments?

  • How can we as a permanent staff become more aware of our unconscious biases?
  • Consider anti-oppression training for all permanent staff and contract educators with whom NTS has a long term relationship.



2. Engage all students in conversations related to race

a. Politically charged conversations (anything that deals with race, culture, gender and the like) should no longer happen one on one with students. The power dynamic is not balanced.

b. Dialogues that happened behind closed doors need to become public class-wide dialogues or with an arms-length facilitator such as a Director of Diversity & Inclusion.

c. Students should leave the institution with the ability to identify and discuss race, gender, ethnicity and culture from an artistic perspective.

  • g. white supremacy and patriarchy in scripts and design, discussions with designers themselves, microaggressions and overt racism in the rehearsal hall



3. Introduce students to artists of colour

a. Students, faculty and guest instructors need to be prepared to work for and with members of the BIPOC community. All students benefit from this exposure.

b. This can take on a variety of forms including but not limited to faculty, playwrights, directors, movements, methodologies and praxis.

c. Actively and aggressively recruit artists of colour to work as instructors at NTS. They should be permitted to work on anything that is of interest to them (not only plays by people of colour).

d. Student and professional designers (costume, hair, makeup, lighting, sound and video and sets) should learn how to design for a diversity of stories and storytellers (without necessarily using students as examples). Knowledgeable experts should also be brought in to work with students and it should be at the expense of the school.

  • HAIR: Designers need to be aware of different needs and timelines

required for different hair types.



 4. Students need to be heard : Uncomfortable conversations encourage growth on

both sides

 

a. Teaching students how to be professionals requires there to be space for

conversations as students develop their voice and agency; and as instructors

reflect on their practice.

b. Students should not be afraid that they will be asked (or encouraged) to leave

the institution because they have shared negative feedback.

c. Admittance into the following year of the program should not be used as a

weapon.

 

  • Feedback does not mean the student does not belong. It means that their needs are not being met. This is an opportunity for the instructor and institution to reflect.



CULTURE SHIFT: Actions that can be taken Immediately that require a long-term

commitment.

Further to the list above, below are long-term suggestions that can be implemented

immediately that would begin the required CULTURE SHIFT that would create brave spaces for students to become truly exceptional in their chosen craft.



1. Hire a Director of Diversity & Inclusion

As the leadership team is composed of white-presenting individuals, NTS should hire a person who is able to facilitate difficult dialogues and decisions related to race and culture. This person would be a key part of the required cultural shift, and would help steer this cultural shift. A Director of Diversity & Inclusion for NTS should be a BIPOC that is knowledgeable about theatre and education in addition to diversity and inclusion.

a. The person should act to amplify narratives and histories that have historically been ignored, unseen, or invisibilized by NTS and other institutions, so that students are not required to confront staff/instructors alone.

b. This person should be from outside the NTS community.

c. This position would change and grow as NTS begins a culture shift that encourages diversity, student voice, student empowerment and offers more scaffolding.

d. Any dialogue/communication related to race, ethnicity, religion, gender,

orientation should be facilitated by the Director of Diversity & Inclusion,

especially when challenges are reported by students or staff.

  • How can staff and students report oppressive behaviour in a psychologically safe manner?
  • What consequences will be put into place for staff (educators, instructors and anyone working with NTS, whether on contract or permanently) when oppressive behaviour is reported and confirmed? Below are examples of oppressive behaviour that can be found within codes of conduct.
  • Dress Code or Attire :

Students should be permitted to wear any attire (including headdress and hair) that does not impede the work. If clothing restrictions are being considered, it should be discussed with the leadership team (and a Director of Diversity & Inclusion) in advance of the restriction being put into place. The following questions should be considered:

i. Does this item of clothing have cultural or religious significance?

ii. Is the item of clothing restricting the students movement and/or body in a way that impedes the

work?

iii. Is the student themselves uncomfortable? Or is the staff

uncomfortable?

  • Tone Policing : Voice volume, laughter, hair etc. are all cultural

markers and should not be policed by NTS staff without consultation with a Director of Diversity & Inclusion.

e. Should NTS decide not to have a Director of Diversity & Inclusion: What is the mechanism that will be put in place that allows and encourages students to report instances of oppression and racialized violence (large and small) that doesn’t involve talking directly to staff members that may or may not be involved?



2. SCAFFOLDING as a part of a students first mindset

a. NTS is not the professional environment. It is a school. This is a good thing that

should be embraced.

  • What are the learning goals for each year of study and how does each class build into the successive year?

 

  • Students should be given an opportunity to develop their skills of discomfort discernment, not simply told to push through without investigation of the cause, as this can cause and deepen trauma.



3. INSTRUCTORS AS FACILITATORS

a. Realize that NTS is not the same as the standard professional theatre environment, where actors change projects every six weeks. Each class at NTS is an ensemble with a delicate ecosystem.

b. While instructors remain experts in their methodology, this shift means that instructors become facilitators instead of engaging in top down education. Instructors are expected to also learn from students in a mutually respectful and symbiotic relationship, as modelled by the instructors . This leads to students being accountable for their learning,

c. Instructors need to model empathy, care and anti-oppression language, methods and curriculum in order to encourage students to do the same, creating a brave space for learning, and resilient artists.



4. DIVERSITY IN THE TEACHING STAFF

a. This will require a shift in the hiring and recruitment practices.

b. This will require recognizing the singular, exclusionary and nepotistic hiring practices that are present in institutions and reassessing discriminatory values used to reconcile those hiring decisions.

c. Diversity amongst the guest artists is also important, but is not as impactful as diversity amongst the staff. Furthermore, NTS needs to be extremely mindful about who is invited to speak to the students. When controversial guests are invited, the conversation should be moderated and wrestle with the controversy instead of ignoring it. The moderator needs to be well versed and able to tackle the topic respectfully, modelling to the students how to engage in difficult conversations.



5. Reframe STUDENT VOICE as positive

a. Student attempts to protest and voice their concerns is positive. It is the students recognizing that something is amiss and their attempt to rectify it. This should be encouraged, especially from students from underrepresented groups.

  • Students should not be asked to fix the problem themselves, but can be encouraged (from second year forward) to be a part of the solution.
  • Educators need to stop centering themselves when receiving feedback, and begin to:
  • Listen
  • Unravel the truth of what the student body is presenting, leading with the following understanding of empathy: “In order to empathize with someone else’s experience you must be willing to believe them as they see it and not how you imagine their experience to be.” - Brené Brown
  • Receive suggestions for solutions from students
  • Determine if it is possible to enact those solutions and propose additional solutions
  • As an ensemble, determine next steps and solutions

 

In closing, I have read your BLM Opinions letter on NTS’ website and I am disappointed that there was no acknowledgement of NTS’ misconduct. There are also no actionable items. I caution NTS and its staff against claims of “ongoing solidarity” and continuing support until it has confirmed with the underrepresented communities that they indeed feel supported. Only members of the communities can claim you as an ally or better yet, as a co-conspirator. You can not make that claim on your own. Furthermore, it has made

apparent to me in the past two weeks that not only are these claims of allyship false, but that the many members of NTS’ BIPOC community feel dismissed, disregarded and

disrespected by the institution. I would strongly encourage NTS and its leadership team to invite all students (beginning with all of the Black and Indigenous students) to the

conversation, so the students have an opportunity to share their perspectives (with the

option of anonymity) and that the dialogue is mediated by a diversity, inclusion and equity professional.

 

"Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better."

- Maya Angelou

 

It is my sincere hope that NTS begins to do better, as it is irrefutable that it has been made aware that there is a problem. This is a problem that the leadership team will not be able to overcome on its own. As outlined above, it requires a conscious culture shift that must begin now. Now is the time.

 

Please post a public response by July 20, 2020 acknowledging personal and institutional

accountability, and specifying when a meeting to discuss next steps (with student

representatives and an intermediary) will take place.

 

Sincerely,

 

Lisa Karen Cox, O.C.T., M. Sc. Ed.,

Practicing Theatre Artist and Artist Educator

With support from over 250 members of the National Theatre School Community.

 

June 26 | Fighting Racial Discrimination: A Letter from NTS Directors

Dear new and returning NTS students,

Firstly, we hope you and your loved ones are keeping well and safe in the midst of this unprecedented crisis.  We are sending you this message 101 days since the last time we were all able to be together in one space.  It is an incredible milestone when we think of what we have all experienced and achieved in that time. 



First of all, thank you.

We have been so inspired by your resilience, adaptability, creativity and conviction as we watched your final presentations online, felt the engagement you brought to your Zoom classes and saw you reach out across the digital divide in your auditions and interviews … as hard as this period has been, because of your commitment to your training,  it has also been a time full of possibility, opportunity and discovery.



Against racial discrimination

We especially want to acknowledge the difficult and necessary work so many of you have been doing while the world has been gripped by waves of protest and outrage set off by the death of George Floyd.  To our BIPOC students, we want to say that we see you, and that we know that this moment of outrage is directly connected to experiences you live every day.  We recognize the systemic racism you face, the grief, rage and fear you may be feeling and the complicity of this institution in marginalizing voices and cultures, and benefitting from white supremacy. We are also committed to doing much more than recognizing these things.  We want you all to know that, just as with the experience of enforced distancing, this time of protests is also full of possibility, opportunity and discovery for how we will confront racism and social injustice within our communities, our school and ourselves.  This is complex work that will take patience, listening, learning and an understanding in order for us to progress, but we are more committed than ever to do so. 



Inventing the theatre of his time

This School was founded 60 years ago during a time of profound social transformation with the express mission of creating tomorrow’s theatre.  Imagine those early students, such talents as Jean-Luc Bastien, Martha Henry or August Schellenberg, training in the midst of the Quiet Revolution and the Vietnam War, called upon to imagine a theatre for their times.  You ARE the cohorts to imagine a new theatre, one that will bring people together after chaos and upheaval. You will be among those who will create a new theatre for our times.  We are committed to supporting your artistic growth and continued learning as we explore how our art form is to live on and even thrive during difficult times. We cannot sit and wait for things to be “back to normal.” We want to engage in shaping the “new normal.” We are committed to a theatre that speaks to this moment, and we are committed to exploring this while keeping our community’s safety at the forefront of our planning. 



An adapted back-to-school season

Throughout the coming weeks, we will be working hard to keep you informed of all the adjustments and plans we are putting in place for next year.  In this email, we will begin to explain our planning process, as well as share some of the complicated questions we are trying to address.  As we progress, our communication will become more concrete, but we want to work in total transparency and collaboration with you so that we are all equipped to start working safely together as soon as possible.  As you can imagine, the staff and faculty have been working incredibly hard on the almost impossible task of planning our training programs in a constantly changing context.  We would therefore like to take the opportunity to recognize the hard work of the entire team in what have been incredibly difficult circumstances.  What follows is very complex and we ask that you take the time to read it carefully and that you reach out to us with any questions or thoughts you may have. Please pay attention to the action items in bold.  

This email will provide key information on the following areas:

  1. Planning for Reopening
  2. Student Support
  3. Building Accessibility
  4. Next Steps
  1. PLANNING FOR REOPENING
  1. All planning is based on health measures put in place by the Government of Quebec with rigourous safety protocols to be enforced at all times.
  2. We are assuming that all students will return this fall to continue/begin training in all programs across both sections.
  3. All students should plan to be in Montreal and available as of September 1.  A start date for classes will be confirmed soon.  
  4. We are developing a training schedule that prioritizes maximum flexibility in the event of further closures, with a hybrid of online and in-person work.  We are also examining how to lighten the schedule to support this modified plan. 
  5. We are examining the possibility of extending either or both of the sessions to accommodate any unforeseen circumstances or further closures. An end date will be confirmed soon. 
  6. Students who have acute health concerns related to COVID-19 (ex. immunodeficiency disease) should immediately contact their program directors to discuss it.
  7. The student registrar office will be closed from June 19 to July 10, after which time you can proceed with your requests related to attestations and confirmations.  After this date, you will also receive access to Chronos, our student portal, where new students can retrieve their official acceptance letters, and all students can access their educational contracts and medical information sheets.  
  8. Further information will soon be provided for international students.



ACTION:

  • Contact your program director immediately if you have acute health concerns.
  • Begin planning for your presence and availability at the School as of September 1, 2020.
  • Prepare to have appropriate computer and tech tools and internet connectivity to undertake some of the training online. 
  1. STUDENT SUPPORT
  1. We recognize the unpredictable and challenging nature of this crisis, and are working to ensure the safety and well-being of all students and staff.
  2. Anti-racism, equity and accessibility are at the core of our commitment to our community’s well-being.
  3. We will be announcing a financial support package available to all students that aims to, among other things, reduce the burden of student tuition and provide free access to services in support of improved mental and physical health.
  4. A survey will be sent out shortly to assess student concerns to determine what additional support is needed.
  5. The FAQ page of the website - https://ent-nts.ca/en/covid-19-updates - will be updated on an ongoing basis.   



ACTION:

  • Promptly respond to the survey once you receive it.
  • Review the FAQ page regularly and send any further questions to your program directors.  

 

  1. BUILDING ACCESSIBILITY
  1. Next year, training will take place at both campuses (5030 Saint-Denis and the Monument-National).
  2. During the first term, there will be an ongoing construction project at 5030 Saint-Denis to build a new elevator that will make all Annex floors accessible. Construction starts in July.  This is part of an ongoing Accessibility Plan that will include further studies and construction projects in the future.  



ACTION:

  • Incoming students should familiarize themselves with the location of both campuses. 

  1. NEXT STEPS
  1. Complete health and safety protocols will be announced progressively over the coming weeks.
  2. You will receive an updated student contract that reflects the adjustments in progress. 
  3. You will receive information about the financial support package soon. 



ACTION:

  • Check email frequently for important updates. 

 

In some ways, this communication marks nothing less than the beginning of a new chapter for the National Theatre School.  We want you to know that we are very much looking forward to welcoming you (or welcoming you back) to the School, and to learning how to grow together in all safety over the coming months, and to dream of the resilient and vital theatre of tomorrow.

Thank you,

Gideon, Alisa and Frédéric    

June 2 | NTS Statement regarding Black Lives Matter

Dear NTS Community,

We write to you today to express our deep sadness, our anger and our outrage at the racist incidents that continue to affect the lives of too many members of our community and of our world.

Our sadness comes from knowing that this violence is not a passing moment. It is historical, reflecting systems of abusive power and oppression that impact the lives of millions of people every day.

Our anger and outrage come from the recognition that change is too slow to come. Rallies and protests across the country, throughout the United States and beyond are raising voices about ongoing injustice, but this is not the first time we are hearing these voices. The Wet’suwet’en First Nation and Idle No More among countless other movements for social change have raised voices in struggle. And yet here we are again.

We write today to express our ongoing solidarity with BIPOC students, teachers, artistic leaders, staff and community members. As a national centre for learning and artistic expression, we commit to supporting you in the ongoing struggle for justice. We commit to continuing to make space for black and POC bodies and voices on and off stage, in all forms of artistic expression. We will continue to listen and to take action in order to provide the resources and tools to help your voices rise, to support you to do what artists do best: bring our communities together to mourn, to celebrate, to process, to reflect and above all to change.

We hope that wherever you are, you are able to stay safe, healthy and whole.

We are with you in solidarity and in action.

Black Lives Matter.

Gideon, Alisa & Fred

Dear NTS Community,

We write to you today to express our deep sadness, our anger and our outrage at the racist incidents that continue to affect the lives of too many members of our community and of our world.

Our sadness comes from knowing that this violence is not a passing moment. It is historical, reflecting systems of abusive power and oppression that impact the lives of millions of people every day.

Our anger and outrage come from the recognition that change is too slow to come. Rallies and protests across the country, throughout the United States and beyond are raising voices about ongoing injustice, but this is not the first time we are hearing these voices. The Wet’suwet’en First Nation and Idle No More among countless other movements for social change have raised voices in struggle. And yet here we are again.

We write today to express our ongoing solidarity with BIPOC students, teachers, artistic leaders, staff and community members. As a national centre for learning and artistic expression, we commit to supporting you in the ongoing struggle for justice. We commit to continuing to make space for black and POC bodies and voices on and off stage, in all forms of artistic expression. We will continue to listen and to take action in order to provide the resources and tools to help your voices rise, to support you to do what artists do best: bring our communities together to mourn, to celebrate, to process, to reflect and above all to change.

We hope that wherever you are, you are able to stay safe, healthy and whole.

We are with you in solidarity and in action.

Black Lives Matter.

Gideon, Alisa & Fred

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