Artscape has been hit hard by the COVID-19 crisis. As of March 16th they closed all community hubs for three weeks including Weston and according to nowtoronto.com laid off 54 staff members. On top of that, artists at the 34 John Street Weston Hub live / work spaces are feeling the pinch of cancelled gigs and will not be paying rent when it comes due tomorrow. Non-profit Artscape told tenants that they could defer paying half of their April rent but artists have issued a press release stating that they won’t pay anything at all.
Since the closure is likely to continue far beyond April 6, and with revenues dwindling, Artscape may soon be scrambling for its own existence.
Do you dream of taking the stage?
Have you always wanted to create, perform or design for a theatre play?
Are you over the age of 55?
Now’s your chance!
Shakespeare in Action with the support of the New Horizons For Seniors Program is proud to produce King Lear in Weston, a community-engaged theatre project that is created by and for seniors living in northwest Toronto.
SHAKESPEARE FOR KIDS SUMMER CAMP
has a NEW HOME for 2020!Now in conjunction with SHAKESPEARE IN THE SHELL, The Groundlings (ages 7-11) and King’s Company (ages 12 – 15) will design, rehearse, and perform a play on the by the Artscape Weston Common, Shakespeare in Action’s new home!
Artscape, the organization that currently operates the Weston Hub is looking for a part-time coordinator of youth programs related to the UpstART Youth Mentorship Program. This program seems to have no presence on the web but a full description of duties is in the links below. The pay will range between $20 and $25 hourly.
Find more information here and here. Hurry; applications are due by 5pm on March 6.
Tonight’s the last night to see A Christmas Carol by Shakespeare in Action with the Weston Silver Band. Robin Breon, a theatre reviewer, gives it a rave review:
I’ve seen quite a number of Carols over the years and this one (to paraphrase Dickens) was as good A Christmas Carol as any good old city knew, or any other good old city, village, borough or town in the good old world!
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.
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:
That Michael will undergo sensitivity training;
That Michael will not engage directly with any artistic personnel;
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:
SIA needs policies and practices to prevent and address personal and group oppression, discrimination and bullying;
These policies and practices are necessary to ensure a safe space for all in both SIA’s operations and programming;
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:
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;
Engaging a third party to audit the implementation of the necessary policies and practices;
Engaging a third party to facilitate anti-oppression training;
That all SIA staff and Board members – including future new members – receive this training;
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.
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. “
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.
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.
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.
“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. “
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.”