March 23, 2023

Segregation Is Back: Canadian Theatre Running ‘Black Only’ Events

Even now, claims that the events can “allow for conversation and participation to be felt through the theatre, ” but apparently not if you’re white

A prominent theatre in Canada has received repercussion for promoting a series of events that are billed for “ black only” audiences.

Critics charged that The National Arts Center in Ottawa is operating a segregationist policy after it announced that some activities would be run under a  “ Dark Out, ”   meaning that only black individuals can attend.

“ A Black Away is an open invitation in order to Black-identifying audiences to come plus experience performances with their local community, ” the National Arts Center’s website states, incorporating “ The evenings will provide a dedicated space for Black theatergoers to witness a film that reflects the vibrant kaleidoscope that is the Black encounter. ”

Further productions at the theatre are scheduled to operate a black-only admission policy throughout the 2023-24 season.  

Journalist Jonathan Kay  pointed out that the first forthcoming event, a show called Is God Is certainly was previously branded as for ‘ black identifying’ audiences, but was swiftly updated to a full black just event.

The theatre claims that the events will “ allow for conversation plus participation to be felt through the entire theatre, ” and will provide audiences the opportunity to “ experience the energy of the NAC using a shared sense of belonging and passion. ”

Apparently not if you’re White, Asian or anything other than black though.

Ironically, on the NAC website there is a notification saying “ We would like to identify the  Algonquin Anishinabeg Country, on whose traditional unceded territory the National Arts Centre is located. We gratefully acknowledge them as the past, present and future stewards of this land.

Presumably they are also precluded from the black only events.

Responding to the criticism, Annabelle Cloutier, executive director of technique and communications for the NAC claimed “ There are no racially segregated shows at the NAC. ”

Sure seems like there are.

“ There will be simply no checkpoints for Black Out night ticket holders with no questions will be asked about anybody’s identity, race or sex, ” Cloutier confusingly added.

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