The arts, especially theatre, is a powerful space for creating community. Lights Up has the opportunity to connect with children and help develop inclusive attitudes that will be carried for life. Acceptance and equality are central to our core values.
Lights Up has always been committed to creating an inclusive environment and a community that honours many voices, supports all talents and fosters opportunities to learn, share, and become unified through our love of performing, regardless of race, ability or financial background. Today, it is important for us to underscore our support of the Black and Indigenous members of our community, given current events.
We have taken time in the last few weeks to look closely at our organisation in order to re-assess how successfully we are building a culture that reflects our inclusive values and intentions.
We recognize that there is room to improve our policies, practices and programming in order to create an environment which is truly welcoming and supportive to all our students, staff and community members. We are adding messages of acceptance, respect, kindness, and inclusion into our programming and finding new ways to celebrate diversity and cultural knowledge within the classroom.
It is important to us to implement a diversity and inclusion initiative so our organization may reflect the diversity of the vibrant Lower Mainland community we serve.
Ways we can do this are:
• Providing anti-racism training annually for our staff
• Ensuring instructors recognize the cultural and historical background of material used in the classroom and can educate our students on the origins and historical influences. Musical theatre and popular music have deep and varied cultural origins that should be shared with students.
• Expanding our search for new instructors to communities beyond our own and actively seeking out teachers from Black and Indigenous communities.
Since 2006, we have strived to use our platform to give back to local communities and individuals in need of support. Here are some of the programs and initiatives that we have already taken on, and which we intend to continue:
• Providing scholarships for individuals from diverse backgrounds who are in need of financial support.
• Donations of scholarship spots in our schools to charitable causes
• Creating and hosting a performance as a school community which benefits charities that support children in need. Going forward, we aim to examine which charities we choose to support based on community needs and individual charity’s practices.
• Employing former students from BIPOC communities at Lights Up and supporting them to grow as young adults, instructors and leaders in the Lights Up community. We are proud to see our BIPOC students succeed and move forward with Lights Up.
We are grateful to all those in our community who have engaged in honest, meaningful and insightful conversations with us.
We will continue to strive to be a safe space for all people, all backgrounds, all expressions and all identities. We encourage conversation and welcome those who wish to discuss inclusion with us.
Children of all races, abilities, economic status, gender, or any other differentiating features are welcome in our programs and help to create the vibrant community we cherish at Lights Up. We hope to create a space where all our students can grow and learn in a positive and welcoming environment, feeling safe to become who they are meant to be. It is our goal that the skills learnt at Lights Up will serve our students in all aspects of their future lives.