We wanted to share with you where we are at with the CFC’s Commitment to Change and Antiracism, specifically in relationship to alumni re-engagement. We also wanted to acknowledge that while we were aware of conversations happening within the alumni community regarding the CFC’s Commitment, we had not received direct communication from any alumni groups before this past Friday, December 4, when BAC (Black Alum of the CFC) reached out to us directly to share that they want and need to actively engage in, and contribute to, the change process before further actions be taken.
Hearing from BAC is a welcome step forward, as we want to make meaningful change to address systemic racism. To do that, we need to hear from our racialized alumni about their experiences and perspectives in order to inform the CFC’s priorities for change and action plans moving forward. How best to do that has been a key question given that alumni cross many different years, different programs, different disciplines and different experiences. Our goal was to find a safe, open, honest and constructive way of allowing for the exchange of experiences and feedback from our racialized alumni.
While some of you have reached out to us directly, we understood that not all alumni were comfortable sharing their experiences with us directly, not all were comfortable sharing their experiences in a larger open forum with others, while others are not yet ready or able to share their experiences. So, as we outlined in our July 27th update, we chose to take a multipronged approach to offer alumni a variety of ways in which to engage, starting first with establishing an Alumni Advisory, ensuring that from the outset we were working with racialized alumni to set a path forward and to strategize on priorities.
It’s important to note that, due to COVID’s impact on our operations, our core programs have been paused since April 2020, and the timelines for all programs have now shifted to start in 2021. Despite the hold on core programs, the CFC has been moving forward with changes on a number of fronts but, in the spirit of transparency, we want you to know that we have been holding off on tackling the more critical issues and work until the Alumni Advisory was in place, seeing as the engagement of our racialized alumni is central to this change process – and it is now just beginning to unfold.
We understand there have been many questions about the Alumni Advisory, including who will participate and what the Advisory will be doing, so we wanted to take this opportunity to share some key details with you and to announce who is currently on the Advisory. We have uploaded more detailed information on the Alumni Advisory process onto our website here.
We have been working diligently since August to establish the Alumni Advisory as the first step in our alumni re-engagement process. The Alumni Advisory is a rotating, five member strategic advisory group that will work closely and collaboratively with CFC’s Program Executive Team to set strategic priorities and action plans relating to the CFC’s Commitment to Change and Antiracism. This includes helping to determine how first to meaningfully engage with our Black, Indigenous and Racialized alumni; how to better the overall CFC experience for racialized and other systemically marginalized talent; identifying what support and opportunities are the most critical for racialized alumni post-CFC; and to provide advice and counsel on the CFC’s role in addressing systemic racism within the industry at large.
The Advisory will be a permanent component of CFC’s ongoing strategic process, engaging alumni with several years of experience in the wider industry in order to take a macro look at the CFC experience for Black, Indigenous, People of Colour and other systemically marginalized talent. Advisory members will rotate positions annually, with two remaining on for a second term for continuity. The Advisory will not focus on specific program design or delivery, as we plan to engage more recent alumni as Program Advisors each year to focus on specific program work. More on this process to come.
We are so happy to announce that Producers’ Lab alum Lea Marin (Chair), Actors Conservatory alum Cara Ricketts, Editors’ Lab alum Dev Singh and Directors’ Lab alum Cory Bowles have joined the Advisory, with conversations in motion for the fifth member.
The Alumni Advisory is not being asked to do the heavy lifting, that is for the CFC to do, but we need and welcome counsel and perspectives from our Advisory to ensure the changes we are prioritizing are indeed the changes that will have the impact we all desire, and that these changes will have a strong and lasting effect on our industry at large.
Now, in light of the communication we received from BAC, and in consultation with our Alumni Advisory and Chair of our Board of Directors, we have rescheduled our planned town halls and would now like to proceed with hosting a Town Hall in January 2021 with all racialized alumni from our core programs (former full-time residents of our Film Program, Prime Time TV Program, Music Residency and Actors Conservatory), to be attended by the Alumni Advisory members and CFC representatives, including Board Chair Christina Jennings, Slawko Klymkiw, Kathryn Emslie, and other Board members (TBD).
We look forward to setting this first Town Hall in motion with the Advisory taking the lead on how to best set up and facilitate the conversations that we know are important to have and that we very much welcome. The CFC will begin planning the Town Hall and subsequent change process with the Alumni Advisory in early January 2021.
The CFC has begun to address some of the changes that we already know need to be made, but there are many aspects of the CFC experience that will be best reshaped with your input if you are able and willing to share it. We look forward to moving on these next steps and to re-engaging with you in the process, and hope that you will see this as our commitment to working in an inclusive and transparent manner with all of our alumni, and in particular with our racialized alumni.
The CFC Team
The Alumni Advisory
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