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News October 27, 2020

New study finds reduced harassment and discrimination in Canada’s live entertainment industry

A survey of those working in Canada’s live entertainment industry reported a significant reduction in incidents of harassment and discrimination following introduction of Canadian Actors Equity’s Not in Our Space! national anti-harassment program several years previously.

“We found that 82.9% of the respondents reported that, during their two most recent engagements in the past two years, they had not been the target of personal harassment, including bullying, sexual harassment, or discrimination on the basis of their identity”, said James L. Turk, the study’s principal investigator and Director of the Centre for Free Expression at Ryerson University.

Turk said that these numbers are significantly lower than the findings from the Safe and Respectful Workplaces Survey undertaken by Canadian Actors Equity Association (Equity) 2015, following which it developed and introduced its Not in Our Space! Program working with engagers in theatre, opera, and dance across Canada. 

“The incidence of personal harassment found was also lower than the rates reported in surveys done in arts industries elsewhere", Turk said.

The 17.1% respondents reporting incidents described many types of harassment behaviours, such as male actors bullying female actors, unwelcome touching, racial comments, harassment based on sexual orientation, and ageism, among others. While approximately three-quarters of those experiencing harassment or discrimination took steps to stop the unwanted behaviour, the matter was not satisfactorily resolved in the majority of cases. 

The study proposed a series of recommendations to make Equity’s Not in Our Space! program more effective. It also made recommendations for steps that should be taken not only in live entertainment but also in all other creative industry workplaces.

Ryerson’s Centre for Free Expression will organize a series of virtual workshops in conjunction with Equity and Mass Culture to allow those in creative industries across Canada to discuss the applicability of the report’s findings and recommendations for making their workplaces harassment and discrimination free.

The survey was financed by a grant from the Social Sciences Research Council of Canada. The research team, in addition to Turk, consisted of Leslie Berger, Associate Professor, Lazaridis School of Business and Economics, Wilfrid Laurier University; Louis-Etienne Dubois, Assistant Professor of Creative Industries Management at Ryerson University's School of Creative Industries; Jonathan Farrar, Associate Professor, Lazaridis School of Business and Economics, Wilfrid Laurier University; Catherine Loughlin, Professor and Associate Dean, Research & Knowledge Mobilization, Sobey School of Business, Saint Mary’s University; and Alexandra V. Orlova, Associate Dean of Arts, Research & Graduate Studies, Ryerson University.

For a copy of the report, click here.

For more information, contact:

James L. Turk