Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Accessibility for Social Justice (IDEAS) in
Young People’s Performing Arts
Young people learn from what they know and experience. Performing arts are not only for our enjoyment, but creativity in the arts is also a powerful tool that can inspire how we engage with the world. It’s even more impactful when people from different backgrounds come together to create and share these ideas. Performing arts encourages young people to live, grow, play, and learn.
I.D.E.A.S. in young people’s performing arts stand for inclusion, diversity, equity, and accessibility for social justice (IDEAS). Social justice is possible when all areas of society, including and beyond performing arts, are inclusive, diverse, equitable, and accessible. Young people’s performing arts have the ability and influence to create spaces and opportunities for people to feel included and represented.
The Vancouver International Children’s Festival Society recognizes our privilege and that we benefit from the systems that prevent many people from being involved. We strive toward creating and providing opportunities and experiences for all young people and their families. We are dedicated to this ongoing work with our action plan below. We use the following areas to help guide us in our work:
Inclusion: This means creating environments where any person or group feels welcomed, respected, represented, supported, and valued to meaningfully participate. This is the intentional effort to reflect on who is being excluded and to create spaces for their inclusion. In Canada, this means ensuring the inclusion of black and indigenous communities and people of colour. We endeavor to create an environment where everyone feels welcome and included from creators to audience members.
Diversity: We must consider all the ways that we are different from one another and embrace them, including age, gender, race, ethnicity, religion, culture, immigration, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity, socioeconomic background, education, marital status, language, physical appearance, geography, life experiences, and any other identifiers, visible or invisible. It’s important to note that while a person may seem the same, there could still be differences that we aren’t aware of because not all differences are visible. To be an inclusive group it must be diverse, otherwise, it would not be inclusive. A diverse group may, or may not, be inclusive. This means considering all aspects that make us unique in the performing arts industry, from creation, production, performance, and audience members. We strive for representation from both the artists we work with and the audience members that attend our shows.
Equity: It’s integral to provide fair and equitable treatment and opportunities for people to be meaningfully involved in activities, from work and education to leisure activities. It’s about identifying and removing the historical and existing barriers that prevent full participation in society. For young people’s performing arts, this means providing opportunities for underrepresented groups to showcase their ideas and creativity, from creation, production, and performance to the enjoyment of being in the audience.
Accessibility: It’s important to commit to providing opportunities to include everyone, regardless of their abilities and disabilities. We accommodate for people with visible and invisible disabilities, mental health, and those who are neurodiverse. Accessibility is about considering and providing accommodations as a part of the initial programming and design, so people do not have to disclose anything and are able to feel included from the start.
Social Justice: Social Justice is achieved when we have a fair society where people have the opportunities and ability to reach their potential and achieve their goals.
This is a living document that will be reviewed annually. As education and awareness grow, so too does our learning of how we can improve. While there are limitations from budget constraints and existing building designs, we are continually imagining new ideas to better address these issues. The action plan below outlines what we can commit to creating these spaces in young people’s performing arts.
- Strive towards maintaining diversity and representation among our Board of Directors.
- Develop an intersectional lens for anti-racism, anti-oppression, and reconciliation through a dedicated budget for workshops and training for staff at all levels, including all board members, and volunteers.
- Develop accessibility guides for our venues and performances, including guidance for people with invisible and invisible disabilities, mental health, and neurodiverse populations.
- Develop a framework for people with disabilities to volunteer in a safe and supportive way, where our staff and performers feel supported and the audience can see representation in all areas, not limited to the stage.
- Expand outreach to organizations working with underrepresented groups, including educational programs and specialized schools for students with disabilities, and new immigrants’ programs.
- Intentionally prioritize under-represented populations to work in the performing arts industry.
- Actively and intentionally seek creators and performers from underrepresented populations in young people’s performing arts.
- Intentionally seek performances that can resonate with multi-generational, multi-lingual audiences as seen in the people who live in Metro Vancouver.
- Creating inclusive, diverse, equitable, and accessible programming for underrepresented populations, including racialized groups, indigenous groups, and people with disabilities.
- Expanding accessible performances for all audiences and abilities.
- Work with creators and performers to enhance their own learning of inclusion, diversity, equity, and accessibility by explicitly asking about their performance details.