Less than two weeks after Carousel Theatre for Young People issued a statement about dismantling systemic oppression, there's been a major change at the top of the organization.
The Granville Island theatre company's board said in a statement that it has "mutually agreed to part ways" with its artistic and managing director, Carole Higgins.
"Over the past week, we at Carousel Theatre Society have received many responses to our earlier statement on racism and oppression, including workplace environment, in our organization," the board said. "It is clear from those responses that there are problems with our organization that are having a negative impact on our community. We recognize that change needs to happen."
This followed an online petition alleging that the theatre company had a toxic workplace.
"The majority of those who have been affected by Carousel have remained silent due to being traumatized, and being afraid how it may affect their career going forward," the petition claimed. "A whisper network has been in place for years, full of individuals who have been negatively impacted by the experiences at CTYP."
The directors stated that they want their organization "to be a place we can all be proud of". No replacement for Higgins has been named.
"We will be working to rebuild a theatre that is inclusive, creates opportunity, and provides a safe place for everyone," the board stated. "We are consulting with labour relations specialists to help us reach that goal. Real change takes time, thought, and commitment, and we need to take that time to ensure we are conducting this process properly."
Carousel Theatre was launched in 1974 by Elizabeth Ball, who later served three terms on Vancouver city council.
Higgins became the company's third artistic director in 2006, winning a Jessie Award that year for outstanding artistic creation (direction) for The Big League. She won another Jessie in 2011 for outstanding artistic creation, theatre for young audiences, for Bird Brain.