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Town hall on equity and diversity in the performing arts

By Samantha Mehra

Cultural Pluralism in Performing Arts Movement Ontario (CPPAMO) recently presented the town hall “Equity and Diversity in the Performing Arts.” The event took place January 29th through 30th, 2010 at the University of Toronto Scarborough. On January 29th, Kathleen Sharpe, president of the Canadian Conference on the Arts, chaired a discussion featuring panelists Canada Dance Festival Artistic Director Brian Webb, Guelph Jazz Festival Artistic Director Ajay Hebie, Kaha:wi Dance Theatre Artistic Director Santee Smith and Scarborough Arts Council Director Tim Whalley. 

The discussion recognized inequities in funding what are considered to be marginalized groups, and how communities are changing and wish to see forms of cultural expression that are reflective of their own backgrounds. Remedies were also considered, such as encouraging programmers, funding bodies and policy makers to be representative of diverse forms, and examining Eurocentric programming standards in order to become more inclusive. A performance by Kevin Ormsby of KasheDance followed the panel. On January 30th, Ontario College of Art and Design President Sara Diamond delievered a keynote address, which was followed by a performance of SAMVAD by Lata Pada’s Sampradaya Dance Creations. Also offered on this day were workshop and development sessions on curatorial competence, employment issues, audience building and marketing, representation on boards, and relationships with funding bodies. CPPAMO is an organization of Aboriginal and ethno-racial artists working toward building relationships with presenters in order to empower the performing arts communities of Ontario.

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