Shakespeare in Action announcement delayed again

Shakespeare in Action is a ‘culturally-diverse professional theatre company’ that moved to the Artscape Weston Hub at the beginning of this year. On November 9, founder and Artistic Director Michael Kelly was accused of, ‘making a racist remark’ during a rehearsal of a production (Sound and Fury) that was then cancelled.

Mr. Kelly, has been suspended since November 9th pending the results of an investigation by SIA’s board of directors. The directors said they would disclose the results quickly, promising to report by November 25th. That date passed and the board announced a delay in order to not act, ‘hastily and rashly while it considers the results of its investigations’.

The results were then promised by the 29th but as of December 1, three weeks after the alleged incident, there is still no word on the SIA site.

Look for an update here once the results have been announced.

Update: SIA issued this announcement on Sunday December 1.

“Statement from Board of Directors, Shakespeare in Action 

December 1 2019

The Board of Directors (Board) of Shakespeare in Action (SIA) has conducted a thorough investigation of the incidents which occurred on November 9th and 11th, 2019 during rehearsals for the SIA production of “Sound and Fury”.

Firstly, on behalf of SIA, the Board would like to apologize to the artists, partners, and community members affected. The Board also regrets the impact the subsequent cancellation of two productions in our first season has had on students, schools, artists, partners and the community.

SIA is dedicated to growing the performing arts in Weston and surrounding communities, and understands that we cannot do this in a meaningful way without acknowledging the harm felt by those affected. The Board hopes that the recommendations outlined below can provide the beginning of a path forward to rebuild trust with our stakeholders so that we can continue to create fun, inclusive, and accessible performing arts experiences that reflect, engage, and celebrate this community.

Board Recommendations

Regarding Michael Kelly

While the Board believes there was no deliberate intention on Michael Kelly’s part to cause harm, his actions on November 9th and 11th did cause significant harm to the actors, the playwright, Marcel Stewart, and the broader community. Furthermore, his actions are not consistent with the philosophy and mandate of SIA, as well as SIA’s internal anti-harassment policy and the Canadian Actors’ Equity Association’s “Not In Our Space Policy”.

Given this, we find the only way to be consistent with SIA’s values and to honour the experience of those affected, is to have Michael Kelly immediately step aside from his role as Artistic Director.

However, Michael Kelly will remain with SIA over the next three months (until February 29, 2020) to assist with the transition of the organization to David di Giovanni, as interim Artistic Director, with the following stipulations:

  1. That Michael will undergo sensitivity training;
  2. That Michael will not engage directly with any artistic personnel;
  3. That a member of the Board will assume the position of Officer to conduct those administrative duties previously managed by Michael Kelly.

During these three months the Board would like to have continued and meaningful dialogue with those involved.

At the end of the three months, Michael Kelly’s position with SIA will be reevaluated.

Regarding The Position of Artistic Director

The Board is appointing David di Giovanni as interim Artistic Director

Regarding SIA and the Board The Board acknowledges that:
  1. SIA needs policies and practices to prevent and address personal and group oppression, discrimination and bullying;
  2. These policies and practices are necessary to ensure a safe space for all in both SIA’s operations and programming;
  3. SIA needs diversity on its management team and Board of Directors, as presently we do not adequately reflect the Weston community, our home.

The Board recommends:

  1. That the necessary policies and practices including, but not limited to, anti-oppression, anti-discrimination and anti-bullying, be developed and put into place and practice;
  2. Engaging a third party to audit the implementation of the necessary policies and practices;
  3. Engaging a third party to facilitate anti-oppression training;
  4. That all SIA staff and Board members – including future new members – receive this training;
  5. That new Board members from the Weston community be actively recruited with the goal of achieving a minimum of 50% representation on the Board from members from the Weston community.

Conclusion

The Board, made up of only volunteers, believes it has exercised its duty to act in the best interest of SIA, by considering the myriad parties affected. Moving forward, we have a shared responsibility in this incident, and to ensure that this never happens again. We commit to learn and grow and do so in a way that promotes a safe and respectful space for all.

Sincerely,
The Board of Directors of Shakespeare in Action

The full-length report including “Facts and Findings” is available here. “

 

22 John in the news for large rent increases: quite a bit to do about much less than appears

The new rental building at 22 John was in the news last week for asking tenants to pay as much as 21.6% more than last year—an increase they’ve since backed down on.

From Google Maps

A spokesperson told The Star that tenants can reduce the rent increase  by signing a year-long lease instead of moving to a month-to-month agreement when their agreements come up for renewal. The increase could still be as much as 10%, however.

Chiara Padovani, a local advocate, said today on Twitter:

Padovani, who was a rival for the councillor’s seat, has started a petition calling for rent control province wide.

It’s a bit more complicated than that.

Rockport did not receive city tax money to build for-profit rentals. They received waivers  and $7 million in provincial and federal money—but it was to build  below-market apartments and public spaces. 22 John is a mixed-use building, with a jumble of market and subsidized spaces.

Rockport only received help to build the below-market spaces. They built the for-profit spaces with their own money. Those rents are—rightly or wrongly—theirs alone to set.

Frances Nunziata, rightly, voted against applying rent control on buildings just like 22 John: buildings in which mixed incomes live together. It was perfectly reasonable to do that; after all, mixed-income buildings are good and should be encouraged.

 

 

Trouble at Shakespeare in Action

Michael Kelly, Artistic Director at Shakespeare in Action has been accused of  ‘making a racist remark’ by actors working on the production of ‘Sound and Fury’. The show, scheduled for Friday November 22nd was cancelled by SIA’s board of directors as a result of the accusations. The theatre company was chosen to be a co-tenant in the Artscape Weston Hub and began its residence earlier this year.

Mr. Kelly founded Shakespeare in Action in 1988. Here is the full statement from the SIA Board posted after the show was cancelled:

“Statement from Board of Directors, Shakespeare in Action 

ON NOVEMBER 12, 2019, THE BOARD OF DIRECTORS OF SHAKESPEARE IN ACTION (SIA) BECAME AWARE OF ALLEGED ACTIONS TAKEN BY ARTISTIC DIRECTOR MICHAEL KELLY DURING A REHEARSAL OF “SOUND AND FURY” ON NOVEMBER 9, 2019. HE HAS BEEN ACCUSED BY ACTORS WHO WERE EMPLOYED BY THE COMPANY OF MAKING A RACIST REMARK. 

The SIA Board has taken immediate steps to suspend Michael Kelly from his duties as Artistic Director of Shakespeare in Action and is conducting a full investigation into this incident. We are making every effort to speak with all parties involved and hope to conclude this investigation swiftly and fairly. We are also taking steps to ensure lasting organizational changes and improved policies are put in place to prevent this type of incident from occurring in the future. 

It is of paramount importance to the Board and Shakespeare in Action that its performance spaces are safe and inclusive for all people regardless of creed, ethnic origin, place of origin, race, colour, ancestry, citizenship, sex, sexual orientation and gender identity and expression. We believe it is our duty to ensure that all employees and actors feel safe, included and respected when working with the Company. 

We regret any pain caused to actors, stage crew, SIA staff and anyone else involved and are working to resolve this matter as quickly as possible. We anticipate concluding our investigation by November 25th, 2019 and will issue a further statement at that time. “

UPDATE:

This statement from the Shakespeare in Action Board of Directors was released on Monday November 25.

“The Board of Directors of Shakespeare in Action has concluded its investigation into the actions taken by artistic director Michael Kelly during a rehearsal of “Sound and Fury” on November 9th, 2019. 

The Board of SIA is aware that more than two weeks have now elapsed since November 9th, and it remains committed to a timely resolution. However, the Board would like to avoid acting hastily and rashly while it considers the findings of its investigation. The Board will deliver its findings and recommendations no later than the end of the week. 

In the interim, Michael Kelly continues to remain suspended from his duties as Artistic Director of Shakespeare in Action.”

A Midsummer Night’s Dream in Little Avenue Park

From Art in the Parks.

Weston’s resident theatre company, Shakespeare in Action will begin performing A Midsummer Night’s Dream next week for a two-week run in Little Avenue Park. The show will preview on Tuesday July 16 and Wednesday July 17. During these two nights, the company will rehearse, fine-tune and block the show using the unique features of the park.

For many in Weston, this will be the first chance to see SIA perform. Seven actors will play the various roles – this is a comedy and one of Shakespeare’s more accessible plays so it should be entertaining for all ages. Expect some interactivity and not all of the performance will be on stage.

Admission is free and seating is on the park’s grassy area, or bring a lawn chair. A limited number of rental chairs will be available each night. Some people are planning to picnic beforehand or purchase take out food from one of our many local restaurants. Just remember to put all litter in the trash cans.

SIA’s Community Outreach Coordinator Catriona Leger says that performances will be cancelled if it looks like bad weather will persist through the evening. A decision will be made by 6:00 pm each night and broadcast on social media.

The company requests that people refrain from taking photos or videos during performances for copyright reasons.

Little Avenue Park and its bandshell / stage. (File)

The play will last for 75 minutes and Catriona suggests that it will be great for audiences of all ages as well as a pre-bedtime treat for young children.

It’s a short walk from the UP Express Station. Click to enlarge.

Performance Schedule: Starting time is 7:00 pm for all performances.

  • Tuesday July 16, Preview
  • Wednesday July 17, Preview
  • Thursday July 18, Official Opening and Performance
  • Friday July 19, Performance
  • Saturday, July 20, Performance
  • Sunday July 21, Performance
  • Tuesday July 23, Performance
  • Wednesday July 24, Performance
  • Thursday July 25, Performance
  • Thursday July 26, Performance
  • Friday July 27, Performance
  • Saturday July 28, Performance
  • Sunday July 28, Performance and closing night.

Artscape hiring

Artscape Weston is hiring an assistant manager for community outreach and events. The position is a 12-month, full-time contract, managing “outreach strategies and event services for Artscape Weston Common, with a particular focus on supporting event logistics for community groups, non profits and local arts organizations ensuring they have access to performance, event and meeting spaces in Artscape Weston Common”.

Assistant Manager Community Outreach & Events

The Artscape Hub – one artist’s story.

The last 18 months have been a whirlwind for Juan Paulo Cunanan. He has been living in the Weston Artscape Hub since the beginning of May and is really liking his new home, having applied as a long shot to help further his musical goals. Juan Paulo is known as JP or Japs to family and friends. He interviewed for a placement and was delighted to be offered a one-year lease on one of the 26 subsidized live-work spaces.  At first he wasn’t sure he would be able to afford the first and last months’ rent of almost $2000 but came up with it at the last minute thanks to his mom, some music pupils and a timely tax refund.

Some of the instruments at JP’s disposal – many of which have been donated.

JP is a piano and keyboard artist, specializing in modern jazz but like many accomplished musicians, can perform in a variety of styles. He even does weddings! With a music education degree from the Philippines he is focussed on establishing himself as a professional musician and would dearly love to make a living as a jazz artist, but really enjoys teaching his music school students ages 7 and up. He operates the Weston New Music School at 2125 Weston Road behind the Victory Assembly Church (formerly St Johns Anglican) and is working hard to support himself and his wife. Two of his older pupils are seniors and have been delighted to discover that it’s never too late to learn and enjoy music. I met bass guitar pupil Albert who says he was floundering in his music until JP made things clearer for him. His school offers instruction in piano, bass, guitar and drums.

The apartment comes with a full sized kitchen and great views.

JP arrived in Canada 18 months ago as part of the federal government’s family re-unification program. He likes Canada, the friendly people he has met, the clean air and opportunity to achieve big dreams. His mother came to Canada a few years ago, working as a nanny and sponsored her family once she could do so.

In March, JP returned briefly to the Philippines and married his girlfriend of five years. His bride is still there but JP is working on bringing her over soon.

He pays a subsidized rent of about $900 a month plus utilities for his one-bedroom loft style apartment with an option of $100 a month for parking. The apartments are spacious with tall ceilings, lots of windows and everything you would expect in a modern design. His one-bedroom model has the bathroom and bedroom upstairs – the bedroom is loft style with a balcony open to the lower level. 

Lots of windows and tall ceilings in these modern, light-filled spaces.

What’s next for this young artist isn’t known but you can be sure you’ll be seeing him or hearing him around Weston in the next few months.

To contact JP, phone him at 416-804-9942.