Discrimination, Equity and Human Rights in the Theatre Sector
Artists’ Legal Advice Services (ALAS) and Artists’ Legal Outreach (ALO), and National Network of Legal Clinics for the Arts invite you to join Sedina Fiati (performer, producer, director, creator and activist), Shaista Latif (multidisciplinary artist, consultant and facilitator), Omari Newton (actor, writer, director and producer), and human rights lawyer, Laura Track, for a panel discussion around systemic challenges in Canada’s theatre sector. The discussion will also include related advocacy work being done to instigate change. This event is intended to help artists and arts workers better understand their rights in creative workplaces and to shed light on processes that exist when these rights are violated.
Panelist and organization biographies below.
Date: Mar 17, 2023
Time: 1pm EST
This is part of a series of virtual events addressing topical legal issues faced by independent artists in the live performance sector. Events in the series include panel discussions around workplace discrimination in theatre, artist rights for performing musicians, accessibility in theatre, and pay equity for performing arts. This series of events is being funded by Canadian Heritage and the Government of Canada through the Canadian Performing Arts Worker Resiliency Fund.
Ce projet est financé par le gouvernement du Canada.
Sedina Fiati is a Toronto based performer, producer, director, creator and activist for stage and screen with over 20 years experience. Proudly Black and queer, Sedina is deeply invested in artistic work that explores the intersection between art and activism, either in form or structure or ideally both. Sedina worked with Generator for 3 years, focusing on providing mentorship, program development and coordination for the Artist Producer Training Program. Sedina is currently Artist-Activist in Residence at Nightwood Theatre and proud founding member of the Black Pledge Collective.
Omari Newton is an award-winning professional actor, writer, director and producer. As a writer, his original Hip Hop theatre piece Sal Capone has received critical acclaim and multiple productions, including a recent presentation at Canada’s National Arts Centre. He was commissioned by Black Theatre Workshop (BTW) in Montreal to write a companion piece to Sal Capone entitled Black & Blue Matters, which premiered at BTW in 2019. Omari and his wife, fellow professional playwright Amy Lee Lavoie, recently received a generous grant from the Canada Council to co-write a new play: Redbone Coonhound. Their latest collaboration is a bold and innovative satirical comedy that confronts instances of systemic racism in the past, present and future. Newton’s work in Speakeasy Theatre’s production of Young Jean Lee’s The Shipment earned him a 2017-2018 Jessie Richardson Award for Outstanding Performance by an Actor, as well as a nomination for Best Direction. Notable film & TV credits include: Lucas Ingram on Showcase’s Continuum, Larry Summers on Blue Mountain State and lending his voice to the Black Panther in multiple animated projects (Marvel). Most recently, Omari has a recurring role as Nate on Corner Gas (the animated series) and a recurring role as Corvus of Netflix’s hit new animated series The Dragon Prince.
Shaista Latif is a queer, working-class, Afghan artist, organizer, and facilitator. Her performance works The Archivist and How I Learned to Serve Tea have been presented and produced by various festivals and institutions. She is a published playwright and has also written a couple of articles questioning the ways companies and festivals extract and exploit through pay to play models. Latif has successfully advocated for a full-time salaried artist residency and continues to push institutions to talk about class and positions of power. Her new project Working Class Lab is currently being supported by Dancemakers. The lab is a creative research project and an advocacy group that actively aims to study, confront and shift the lack of labour protections and living wages for working artists. In April, Shaista and Sedina Fiati are organizing a community consultation event at Buddies in Bad Times Theatre to help raise equity standards. The hope for the event is to build stronger networks of solidarity between indie artists operating outside of privilege and power. As a creator, she was recently awarded grants from Toronto Arts Council and Conseil des arts de Montréal to work on a musical stage adaptation of an Afghan film with composer/ musician Sam Shalabi and Isak Goldschneider in partnership with Innovations en concert. Shaista hopes to keep encouraging artists to push back and to refuse hostile working conditions. She does not believe in the adage of “paying your dues.” It’s a rich assertion to make in an industry and existence built on stolen land.
Laura Track is the Director of CLAS’s Human Rights Clinic, as well as its Director of Education. She advocates on behalf of people who have experienced discrimination and assists complainants to navigate BC’s human rights process. Laura also has a strong interest in making legal knowledge accessible. She delivers workshops and presentations to a wide variety of audiences to help people understand their human rights and comply with their legal obligations.
Laura earned her law degree from UBC in 2006, and holds a Masters in International Human Rights Law from Oxford University.
For 35 years, Artists’ Legal Advice Services (ALAS) has worked to empower Ontario’s creative community by providing access to summary legal advice, information, and education. ALAS is operated by volunteer entertainment and intellectual property lawyers, fellow creators, and law students who generously donate their time to help provide advice to those who may not be able to access more expensive alternatives. ALAS assists creators in three main ways: our educational sessions, our bi-weekly legal clinic, and our legal database.
Artists’ Legal Outreach (ALO) is comprised of a group of volunteer lawyers and law students committed to working with artists and arts organizations. We offer resources, workshops and clinics where artists across BC can meet confidentially with an experienced lawyer.