A message from Winnipeg’s Contemporary Dancers, 2020-2021 season

September 1, 2020

WCD is committed to presenting a diversity of creative work and to being a place where the creative work of Indigenous, Black, People of Color, and other marginalized groups, is presented, encouraged and shared.  WCD acknowledges the harm caused by systemic racism and inequity and we have committed to the following actions.

A commitment to diversity will be added to WCD’s mandate and a new Guest Artist in Residence opportunity will be offered.

WCD is committed to increasing diversity in contemporary dance and learning from IBPOC artists. WCD is committed to providing opportunities for emerging IBPOC contemporary dancers through WCD’s Emerging Artist Initiative. This will assist to support greater diversity emerging into the profession. WCD is committed to engaging IBPOC artists to teach professional class/workshops.

WCD is committed to presenting IBPOC artists, Winnipeg artists, and a range of artists each season. WCD’s most recent season presented choreography by 4 choreographers, 2 of which were IBPOC.  WCD’s most recent season included 15 Winnipeg-based dancers, 27% of which were IBPOC dancers. WCD has a long history of presenting and engaging LGBTQ artists and remains committed to presenting and engaging LGBTQ artists.

WCD will engage in learning and begin this through a workshop on systemic oppression, allyship, and privilege. WCD will also engage in diversity and inclusion learning. This learning will begin with participating in a workshop on diversity, equity, inclusion, inclusive language, transgender and non binary inclusion, and communication.

WCD is governed by a volunteer Board of Directors and typically operates with a staff of three employees who work a combination of full and part-time hours for approximately 10 months of the year. The Board supports current staff, one of which is a new Canadian. WCD will advertise for Board positions, prioritize IBPOC applicants, and is considering increasing staff.

WCD is in the process of completing documents that will improve the organization, including: a Safe Spaces document, a document for diversity and inclusion, and a document for artists, arts workers, staff, and third party rentals to provide feedback with regards to working at WCD.

WCD also acknowledges that dance has a history of giving preference to male choreographers and male-led leadership. WCD is committed to advancing women in dance. WCD’s 2018/19 and 2019/20 seasons were programmed entirely of work by female identifying choreographers.  In 2019, WCD appointed a new Artistic Director, marking the first time a woman had been appointed AD since founder, Rachel Browne.

WCD was founded by Rachel Browne in 1964. Rachel Browne was committed to human rights; she was a feminist, a member of the LGBTQ community, and of Jewish heritage, a heritage with a history of being subjected to racism and white supremacy. Rachel’s legacy continues to inspire the company.

We are reflecting, looking inward, and looking outward. We are also looking to the arts sector, the world, our community, and the national contemporary dance milieu to learn so we can move forward in a way that includes love for the art form and action for the here, now, and future. We are listening to the Indigenous and Black leaders in our community and we are committed to listening, learning, and further improving. We acknowledge that we have benefited from our privilege and that our statements are starting points.

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