Nov. 30, 2017
By Arianne Robinson
On the last occasion that the board of directors of the city’s three separate theatre companies had to meet, members went through the final steps involved in the creation of the city’s new Civic Theatres Toronto as the three existing companies are dissolved.
Among those steps was a discussion on sexual harassment and employment equity policies.
The policy for how these issues will be managed at the new theatre company is yet to be set in stone. As the city’s three theatre companies merge into one, it could mean a chance for the new policies to be reflective of Toronto in 2017.
On the workplace violence and harassment policy, Councillor Paula Fletcher said consideration of the current climate in the arts is important, and suggested having someone on staff with issues management experience, calling it a “hot button issue that everyone is dealing with.”
Hiring policies were also hashed out. “I’m not sure if this is an employment equity policy… here it seems to be talking about fairness and equal opportunity… I don’t know where [the city’s] policy is these days, but I can tell you that this does not look like employment equity to me,” board member Charles Smith said. “It looks like equal opportunity,” he said explaining the difference. “If it’s an employment equity policy then outcomes and results are critical.”
Clyde Wagner, president and CEO of Civic Theatres Toronto, agreed, and requested these be referred for further consultation with the city manager’s office. “Every single document we have has said it’s really critical that Civic Theatres represent the city of Toronto… if we don’t have that in our employment policy, it’s not going to work.”
A motion was passed that policies related to election campaigns, confidential information, employment of relatives, conflict of interest, acceptance of gifts and prizes, whistle-blowing protection, and employment equity also be reviewed.
The Civic Theatres Toronto policies are being formed at a time of increasing public sexual-assault allegations in the entertainment industry. Last month, Theresa Tova, president of ACTRA’s Toronto branch, published a video on Facebook asking for members to speak up about abusive situations they’ve witnessed at work, while speaking about current changes to industry policies on harassment.
The new company is only temporarily named Civic Theatres Toronto, and will officially take the place of the three existing companies in January and will launch its new brand in the spring.