Artists condemn planned SLAV shows, call for more diversity in Quebec arts
The uproar around a controversial Jazz Festival show that featured a mostly white cast singing songs written by black slaves continued on Wednesday as a group of activists and artists condemned plans for SLAV to live on.
The SLAV Resistance Collective had issued a letter to the Jazz Festival calling for the cancellation of SLAV earlier this month. Days later, the festival did just that, apologizing to anyone who was hurt or offended by the show.
Producer Robert Lepage has criticized the decision, calling it a blow to artistic freedom.
At a press conference, members of the collective called for more diversity and inclusivity in Quebec’s arts scene. Ricardo Lamour, a comedian and musician, said the controversy over SLAV goes deeper than just one show.
“We’ve voiced ourselves today. I feel like the media has a responsibility to address the privilege and power these other institutions have to have a proper representation of our stories and our narrative,” he said.
In a statement, the collective laid out some steps they'd like to see taken to ensure proper representation in the future, including having the Jazz Fest consult with prominent black Quebec artists like Oliver Jones and implement an equity policy and for more public funding for artists of colour.
The collective also called for the Theatre de Nouveau Monde, where SLAV performances were held, to apologize for its role in the controversy.
Despite the outcry, SLAV is scheduled to be performed in several Quebec cities, including St-Jerome, Sherbrooke, Drummondville and Saguenay, in early 2019.