We understand there have been some people upset about the “how to pitch a play in canada” video.
We apologize to those whose feelings have been hurt by the video. That was never ever our intention, though we understand that for some, this is what happened, and we are sorry.
We were nervous when we made the video. We were aware that it would open up a dialogue—one that we think is important. We can see why it was interpreted differently than we had intended. Please allow me to clarify.
We made the video as an attempt to speak towards cultural appropriation.
When we sat down with Alon and Margo, the conversation was that we wanted to create a video where a white man appropriated different cultures in an attempt to get a grant. We asked him to say and do whatever he could to get the grant, and that’s what the improv was. We thought this was a funny idea, because it was a ridiculous way to get a grant, and also, because it is rooted in a belief that exists that this is, in fact, the way to get a grant. It was agreed by all that it was something that resonated as funny and good satire because it was something that they see all the time at the Arts Council, and it is a subject that that is often hotly contested.
We were never trying to say that there is no merit in diverse work. It was actually trying to mock those who would. We are making fun of the white actor in the video. We are making fun of ourselves. We tried to make it clear that the arts councilor is horrified by his behaviour, and that the empathy lies with her having to deal with this fool.
That said. I can understand how the edit of the video may not make that clear, and may not make the original intention clear.
The response to the video has been personally very illuminating—mainly in that what I perceived the video to be saying was clear to some and unclear to others. Upsetting to some, and not to others. I did want to have a dialogue about ignorance, particularly around diversity. The joke was that a white man appropriates gender, sexuality and First Nations to get a grant; three of canada “hot” issues in both funding and programming. We are not contesting the reasons why, nor say that it should be contested. I do think the reasons “why” should be understood. We were trying to incite the conversation. This was the intent. I think this issue is important and actually key to the future of art in the country. I think that we are afraid of the dialogue because there is a general feeling that diverse programming and funding is something we should be doing, but not talking about—as if talking about it would somehow be inappropriate or give less value to the art. It is, however, an issue, and one that is too often spoken about in hushed tones, mainly because we do not know the difference between how we can and/or cannot talk about it. I believe this is creating a culture of fear when speaking about diversity. The conversation does not happen as often as it should and generalities are formed that are often ignorant. The video is trying to speak to that. It is trying to say “Here. This is what we are afraid of. Being this ignorant.” I think that is clear to some, and unclear to others. It is an attempt at satire.
We take many different angles when promoting SummerWorks, and we’ve tried to model the marketing so that it parallels the experience of seeing work at the festival. Some of it will be very slick and cool, some of it will be playful, some of it will be poignant and some of it will be provocative. This experience mirrors that of spending time watching work at SummerWorks. It is not just one thing, it is many different things.
Also, we were never trying to mock Agokwe. We do now recognize why it seems that way. That was never our intent and was an oversight on our part, and if anybody is hurt by that, then I apologize. Upon watching the video now, we can see how that parallel has happened.