A new program at the Arts Club aims to extend some help to theatre artists out of work due to COVID-19 measures.
This week, it's announced the hiring of 20 temporary full-time employees as Education and Community Outreach Specialists.Many of the artists and actors had been scheduled to be part of shows the theatre company was forced to cancel when the pandemic hit.
They include Paul Almeida, Abraham Asto, Duston Baranow-Watts, Alexandra Brynn, Mishelle Cutler, Andrew Creightney, Sia Foryoh, Paige Fraser, Jeff Gladstone, Cory Haas, Camille Legg, Makayla Moore, Omari Newton, Amir Ofek, Monice Peter, Jason Sakaki, Amanda Testini, Michelle Thorne, Kaitlin Williams, and Raugi Yu.
The roles are funded by the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS), the Bill Millerd Artist Fund, and donors.
The ECOS team is charged with creating digital content, hosting educational workshops online, and connecting with patrons and donors to foster a greater sense of togetherness while the company’s stages remain shuttered.
In light of protests taking place around the globe, the team also has a mandate to amplify the voices of Black, Indigenous, and other artists of colour. It's to create content that is "consciously inclusive and actively anti-racist, and making these practices core company values".
ECOS is already helping to put together Until Further Notice, a digital exhibition spearheaded by Amir Ofek and Kaitlin Williams that features the work of Vancouver theatre artists lost as a result of COVID-19. The exhibition features items like unfinished or unused costumes and props in an effort to capture the full impact of the pandemic on the theatre industry.
With more instructors with diverse specializations on hand, the company is now now able offer workshops on topics such as directing for the stage, dance basics, and poetry by African American, Afro-Canadian, and Caribbean writers.
“Though this is a time of financial hardship for the Arts Club, we must continue to support our artists in any way possible,” Arts Club executive director Peter Cathie White said in this week's announcement. “This includes not only creating work for artists, but also inviting them onto our staff to start important conversations about our actions and practices as a company, as well as the role we play in our community. We intend to make this vital work a permanent part of our organization going forward.”