So here are some stats… now what?

So here are some stats… now what?

Good statistical numbers do not always equal a good experience

For the past two years Calgary Arts Development has supported the work of Chromatic Theatre’s YYC Theatre Stats as part of our research and impact work. This guest fieldnote from Chromatic Theatre explores the collection of theatre statistics and what comes next.Chromatic Theatre logo

Since 2018, we’ve been collecting statistics on racial diversity in Calgary theatre. Things have definitely changed in the past few years, and now most theatre companies hire racialized folks for about 20 percent to 30 percent of available jobs, both onstage and off. Considering that one out of three people in the arts sector consider themselves racialized, these numbers are pretty reflective of what we see in our city.

As our industry has become increasingly precarious we have heard — on more than one occasion — that white folks fear they are losing their jobs to racialized folks. How can that be when we’re not even making up half of the cast and crew of productions? Taking up any kind of space seems to generate fear as we are attempting to balance the scale, just a little. 

We know that achieving “good” statistics raises questions that have come up at Chromatic Theatre over the past two years:

  • When racialized folks are hired by a predominantly white institution, how often do they feel tokenized? 
  • How many racialized artists feel fulfilled by the art they are doing? 
  • How many of them, in these productions, have had to deal with racist microaggressions? 
  • How do we create a fulfilling experience for racialized artists that we invite onto a creative team?


  • Who engages with our statistics?
  • What actions are we taking to make things better? 
  • Are these actions the responsibility of racialized folks or should white folks be stepping up?

Good statistical numbers do not necessarily mean a good experience for the folks that are a part of it. I don’t think any reasonable person expects change overnight. Meaningful change is slow. What actions are we taking or can we take to try and change the theatre landscape for the better so that white folks are not afraid of diversity? We want diversity to be welcomed and celebrated but how do we do that so white artists do not feel threatened by it?

Can we come together in the middle and try to understand each other? Or is it too emotionally fraught? I know that racialized folks are tired, and activism is exhausting. Chromatic Theatre is still committed to posting these statistics as a tool for us as a company to reflect on representation in the Calgary theatre community and to keep the conversation going and to keep asking questions.

Trying to take up space in a majorly white theatre landscape is a challenge. Some of us even risk being blacklisted and not hired again for demanding this space for ourselves. One out of three isn’t that much. But for some, it’s asking for the world. 

About Chromatic Theatre

Chromatic Theatre is a theatre company that develops and supports diverse voices that contribute to an artistic landscape reflecting the spectrum of diversity we feel across Treaty 7 territory also known as Moh’kins’stis. Chromatic Theatre’s goal is to employ diverse artists and pay them professionally and equitably whenever possible with a community care focused approach. 

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