Calgary Arts Development partners with the Calgary Congress for Equity & Diversity in the Arts

News Release Categories: 2016

Calgary Arts Development partners with the Calgary Congress for Equity & Diversity in the Arts

October 27, 2016

(Calgary AB) – Calgary Arts Development is pleased to announce a unique partnership with The Calgary Congress for Equity & Diversity in the Arts (CCEDA), called In/Pact.

“Calgary Arts Development is excited to be working with CCEDA on the In/Pact initiative,” says Patti Pon, President and CEO of Calgary Arts Development. “Working together, we will develop a suite of reporting, measurement and assessment tools to assist Calgary’s arts sector with their own equity & diversity strategies.”

Canada’s professional arts sector is at a historic moment. Diversity has been officially recognized as a primary driver of artistic, social and economic enrichment. We are on the cusp of some momentous changes to the Canadian cultural landscape as a result. The specific goals of In/Pact are consequently to stimulate city-wide discussion about the value of equity & diversity in the arts and strengthen the arts sector’s equity, diversity & inclusion capacity.

Over the next year, CCEDA and Calgary Arts Development are embarking on a series of shared activities, including community consultations and conversations; the development of diversity reporting tools and equity assessment measures; and arts equity intervention training and cultural capacity development workshops.

“There is tremendous knowledge and skill in our city in the area of equity & diversity in the arts,” continues Pon. “The co-producers of CCEDA—Michele Decottignies and Jenna Rodgers—are great leaders in this realm. The time is now to provide a local solution to a national arts equity problem. Our sector and our citizens will be the beneficiaries of this important work.”

CCEDA is a municipal arts service organization of diverse artists who are collectively advocating equal access and equal opportunities for all equity-seeking artists in the professional arts sector.

“Calgary Arts Development is an ideal partner in helping to develop a city-wide arts equity strategy,” says Michele Decottignies, founder of CCEDA. “While CCEDA brings extensive equity & diversity expertise to the table, Calgary Arts Development has the reach needed to engage Calgary’s entire arts sector in this historic moment in Canadian arts history.”

The over-arching intention of In/Pact is to create a home-grown model of reciprocal collaboration that positions Calgary’s arts sector as a model of excellence in equity & diversity in the arts.


Further Information:
Helen Moore-Parkhouse
Director, Communications and Engagement, Calgary Arts Development
Phone: 403.264.5330 ext. 102

Michele Decottignies
Co-Producer, CCEDA
Phone: 403.829.2307

Diversity in Canada’s arts ecology has been a point of discussion for decades now, yet little has changed in the status of diverse artists since the 1960s. For example, consider some inequities in the theatre sector alone: Equity in Theatre (EIT) recently revealed that only about 30% of roles of artistic leadership, authority and influence are filled by women. Information collected by the Professional Association of Canadian Theatres (PACT) shows that the representation of cultural diversity is equally dismal with only 16% of leadership and creative roles within PACT’s membership held by culturally diverse artists. A wealth of national arts reports indicate that other disciplines are not faring any better.

In Canada’s professional arts ecology, diverse arts organizations have been put in a position where they operate parallel to, and are thus marginalized from, the broader arts sector. As a result, they tend to receive significantly less funding, market access, recognition and esteem for the rich contributions to the arts that their collective body of work represents. Because this inequity has existed for so long, it has become an accepted norm for far too many.

However, it is critical to acknowledge that inequity in Canada’s professional arts industries is embedded in its systems, not its agents. Both CCEDA and Calgary Arts Development understand this need, and share a commitment to making the arts ecology not only more diverse but also more equitable. Over the next year, we will conduct research, share tools and provide training opportunities that will disrupt historical patterns of inequity experienced by diverse artists. We have a unique opportunity to pilot a program in Calgary to provide Canada’s arts ecology with a local solution to a national arts equity problem.

About Calgary Arts Development
Calgary Arts Development plays a leadership role to promote, foster and direct investments that develop the capacity of Calgary’s arts sector to achieve public and artistic impact. As the city’s designated arts development authority, we are a central hub that learns about, promotes, connects, advocates for, and leads strategic initiatives in the arts to animate Calgary as a vibrant cultural centre. Calgary Arts Development allocates municipal funding for the arts provided by The City of Calgary through grant investment programs that support operations and innovation for more than 150 arts organizations in Calgary.

About Calgary Congress for Equity and Diversity in the Arts (CCEDA)
After a year of local start-up operations and national outreach, CCEDA has discovered that it is uniquely positioned to advance a needed, national arts equity strategy. CCEDA is the only arts service organization in Canada that is run by diverse artists, for all equity-seeking groups of artists and across all artistic disciplines. It is also the only arts service organization in Canada with a great deal of expertise in both equity and diversity in the arts.

Michele Decottignies, CCEDA co-producer, has 30 years’ experience teaching evidence-based, anti-oppressive practice to agents of change in the arts sector and beyond. She spent the first 15 years of her career working in a variety of roles, with many different companies, including Alberta Theatre Projects, Theatre Calgary, One Yellow Rabbit, Lunchbox Theatre, Rob Cuffley Films, White Iron and many others. She’s spent the last 15 years exclusively prioritizing equity & diversity in the arts through her own company, Stage Left Productions—a conduit of artistic excellence and cultural freedom for diverse artists. Through Stage Left’s globally-esteemed Theatre of the Oppressed practice, Michele has successfully facilitated over 300 arts equity workshops, across Canada and the US and in Australia.

Michele has pioneered highly accessible and creative approaches to arts equity education and engagement. Her practice is unique: It pays equal attention to the barriers experienced by all equity-seeking communities and attends to inequities embedded in all three spheres of influence (personal, social and structural). She pays particular attention to needed cultural and emotional safeties. Her approach moves people far beyond those divisive frameworks of “us versus them” toward cross-cultural solidarity and collective impact.

Michele’s current arts equity work includes attending to the continued evolution of The Deaf, Disability & Mad Arts Alliance of Canada and facilitating the services offered by The Calgary Congress for Equity & Diversity in the Arts. Her recent arts equity consulting includes supporting the development of PACT’s national equity initiative, alongside Cole Avis and Brittany Ryan (IPAA) and Donna-Michelle St. Bernard (Ad Hoc Assembly); introducing and Orchestras Canada’s members to a Canadian-specific Arts Equity Framework; and mentoring independent artists, Olivia Marie Golosky and Melaina Sheldon, in the use of Theatre of the Oppressed techniques in Truth & Reconciliation initiatives and processes of collective recovery.

Jenna Rodgers, CCEDA co-producer, brings diversity expertise to Calgary that is equally comprehensive. Having established her career at fu-GEN in Toronto, Jenna’s understanding of diversity grew out of an arts hub where artists of colour are far more influential and thus at a far more complex stage in the advancement of diversity. In Calgary “diversity” is still firmly embedded in a form of Identity Politics that is only concerned with increased inclusion. Being mentored by renowned artistic leaders like Nina Lee Aquino, Marjorie Chan, David Yee, Donna-Michelle St. Bernard, Yvette Nolan, and so many others, has given Jenna an expertise in grassroots, intersectional approaches to diversity that are now well-proven to bring about far more equitable outcomes.

Jenna’s intersectional competence is evident in the success of Chromatic Theatre, which she founded only two years ago—in addition to being the Associate Dramaturg for The Banff Centre’s Playwrights’ Colony, a former RBC Emerging Director at Lunchbox Theatre, a member of the Betty’s Board, administrative staff to Antyx, and so on. In just three short years Jenna has successfully forged many solid relationships of trust and confidence with the core of Calgary’s arts sector—a reciprocal collaboration that many diverse artists never come to know.

Jenna holds an MA in International Performance Research from the universities of Amsterdam and Tampere.

CCEDA’s Advisory Committee currently consists of these dedicated agents of change:

  • Olivia Marie Golosky, Independent Artist
  • Khrysta Lloren, Plethora Art Guild
  • Seema Jindal, Earth Educators
  • Judy Lawrence, International Avenue Arts and Culture Centre
  • Kai Sinclair, CJSW
  • Mark Hopkins, Swallow-a-Bicycle Theatre
  • Helen Moore-Parkhouse, Calgary Arts Development
  • Jenna Rodgers, Chromatic Theatre
  • Michele Decottignies, Stage Left Productions


logo images – CAD – CCEDA logos

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