Awakening! An Urban Musical Story


AWAKENING!

An Urban Musical story of a Dancer

Artistic Direction by Tamla Matthews and Lennox Glasgow

Toronto – ON, After 15 years of staging Afro-Caribbean dance productions, Tamla Matthews shows us her heart. And who better to tell her own story, than the woman herself. Producing and starring in her true life story of shame, regret and triumph, The Caribbean Dance Theatre presents Tamla Matthews in, Awakening: An Urban Musical Story of a Dancer. Thursday June 17th – 18th 2010.

ABOUT THE STORY:

Awakening opens with Tamla’s fondest childhood memory, dancing in the living room with her six siblings for an audience of one. “My mother would just love to see us all dancing together, nothing made her happier.” But when Tamla starts to take her African dance classes seriously, she quickly learns there’s a price to pay. “I can remember when I was ten years old, coming to school with my African dance outfit. That long multi patterned billowy skirt, with the equally colourful head wrap. At a time when hip hop was gaining global hype, what I was doing just was not cool. I got laughed at. For a long time, I was ashamed of it. ”

The audience will dance with Tamla as she explores ballet and modern forms searching for her identity as a dancer. “I never could feel the soul from other forms that I felt from African dance. And it was a struggle to stay committed because I never saw myself reflected anywhere. The only black dancers I saw were in FAME and in music videos.”

Tamla has to make a tough choice when a life altering opportunity comes knocking. She must decide whether to give up on her tradition in exchange for fame or to give back to the art form that has given her so much.

ABOUT THE SHOW:

Awakening brings back traditional African dance form and fuses it with modern Caribbean dance technique. Live musical and spoken word accompaniment intricately reveals a world of diverse dance styles from gospel to reggae. The dancers range in age from 3 to 35, with black women of all different shapes and shades. Their common thread is a deep pride for their art form rooted in Afro-Caribbean heritage. Something Tamla says is her mission in life. “The importance of it is really reflected in my 3 year old daughter. After one performance, she stood holding my hand still dressed in her long colourful skirt and tiny head wrap. Other little girls came over and were gushing, saying, “You look so pretty, just like a princess.” That was emotional for me, because I remember how I used to be ashamed of my dance clothes, and how I longed to be a princess. But she can stand there and be admired and be proud. And maybe now, finally, a little black girl can be a princess too.”

ABOUT THE ARTISTS:

Tamla Matthews has been an active member of the Toronto dance community for over 22 years. An accomplished Artistic Director, Choreographer and dance artist of local and international acclaim, Tamla is a certified fitness instructor and creator of Reggaerobics. She is a mainstay judge at the annual York Region District School Board Dance competition and the Director of Caribbean Dance Theatre. She will be playing herself in this production, and her 3 year old daughter Egypt will be playing “young Tamla”.

Lennox Glasgow is a dancer and dance instructor from Trinidad and Tobago. A well versed educator, Lennox was the Artistic Director of the Prime Minister’s Best Village Trophy competition in Trinidad for 12 years. He has been summoned to places like Japan, Germany and Africa to perform. Calypso enthusiasts may recognize Lennox as the famous Calypsonian Hit Man who performed in the Trinidad calypso circuit in the 1990s.

ABOUT THE COMPANY:

This production marks the 15th anniversary of the Caribbean Dance Theatre (CDT). Specializing in Contemporary Caribbean based dance styles that celebrate the Caribbean contribution to the Canadian cultural mosaic; Caribbean Dance Theatre’s signature style honours the cultural root, celebrates the present and inspires possibilities for the future of dance in Canada.

Awakening: An Urban Musical Story of a Dancer

Thursday June 17th – 18th 2010 at 8pm

Toronto Centre for the Arts (5040 Yonge Street)

Tickets range from $25 – $40.

For media inquiries contact:

Roger R. Dundas – Marketing Consultant

Kingston 6 Entertainment –

Call: 416-918-9045 or Email: info@k6e.ca

www.awakeningshow.weebly.com

Journalist’s doc explores black beauty

The Colour of BeautyThis week the National Film Board of Canada launched "The Colour of Beauty", a provocative short documentary that examines racism and lack of diversity in the fashion industry through the eyes of a young, ambitious Black model living in New York city.

Renee Thompson has got the looks, the walk and the drive. But she’s a Black model in a world where White women represent the standard of beauty. In interviews with industry insiders we hear that agencies seldom hire Black models, and when they do, they want them to look "like White girls dipped in chocolate."

Is a Black Model less attractive to designers, casting directors and consumers? What is the colour of beauty? Canadian fashion icons like Jeanne Beker, host of CTV's Fashion Television and Lisa Tant, Editor-In-Chief of Flare Magazine offer their insights.

Since its online launch this week, “The Colour of Beauty” has gone “viral” on the internet and sparked heated debate on influential sites like Jezebel.com. The documentary has also been featured on CTV News Channel, Canada AM, Fashion Television, cbc.ca, CBC French radio, Le Téléjournal Montreal and La Presse.

Director of the short documentary The Colour of Beauty, Elizabeth St. Philip is also a full-time news producer. Watch Journalist vs Doc Filmmaker where she describes what she considers to be the differences and similarities between making a documentary and producing TV news in bringing vital and compelling stories to an audience.

To watch The Colour of Beauty click here.

As Canwest Global Dies Shaw Media is Born

Shaw Communications has completed its $2 billion purchase of the bankrupt Canwest Global's TV assets

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TORONTO -- It's dead, the white line is drawn round Canwest Global Communications Corp. and now the question is what's next for the fallen Canadian media giant after a leaner player has received a new lease on life as Shaw Media.

"The Asper family built a broadcasting organization which served our country well," JR Shaw, executive chairman of Shaw Communications, the western Canadian cable giant, completed its $2 billion purchase of the bankrupt Canwest Global's TV assets and re-named them Shaw Media on Wednesday.

Over 30 years, the Asper family of Winnipeg built a Canadian-based broadcast empire on debt, with Canwest Global represented in Canada, Australia, New Zealand, the U.K. and Northern Ireland.

But after Canwest Global pacted with Goldman Sachs & Co. to acquire Alliance Atlantis Communications Corp. in 2007 -- which included a 50% stake in the lucrative CSI franchise -- the Canadian broadcaster started to buckle under $4 billion in debt to fuel an acquisition binge pursued in better times.

To salvage the company, the Aspers started shopping and eventually selling its international broadcast assets at mostly fire-sale prices.

But by then, the Canadian media group's debt load had ballooned, and the family-controlled empire was in deep peril.

Canwest Global late last year tipped its TV and newspaper assets into separate court-directed bankruptcy proceedings.

That's when Calgary's Shaw family, already broadcasters through their Corus Entertainment TV division, pounced on a floundering Canwest Global empire.

Shaw last February first proposed to secure a controlling stake in Canwest Global to help recapitalize the media group, but opted for an outright acquisition after it faced a knock-down legal battle with Goldman Sachs.

On Wednesday, Canwest Global issued a statement in which it confirmed that it "has ceased to carry on business" after Shaw completed its deal to acquire its TV assets.

Having earlier sold off its newspaper and digital assets, Canwest Global added that its directors and officers have resigned and a court-appointed representative will "commence bankruptcy proceedings."

For Shaw, the strategy is now to rebrand Canada's Global Television network and 19 cable channels to supply the western Canadian cable giant with content that its TV, Internet and digital phone subscribers might pay for, but which would distinguish media group and its varied content offerings from Apple TV, Google TV and other pending competitors in the Canadian market.

"This acquisition brings together outstanding content and distribution capabilities and a team of talented and experienced industry leaders," Paul Robertson, the newly installed president of Shaw Media, said Wednesday.

"Together, we will change the competitive landscape and create a new Canadian broadcasting model that delivers quality content when, where and how our customers want to receive it," he added, eyeing subscribers in the wider Shaw Communications group.

Besides impressing cable subscribers with more video content, Shaw Media is also pledged to launch new morning TV news shows in major Canadian markets, pour new money into homegrown drama production, and help drive Canada's upcoming analog-to-digital transition.

Robertson comes to Shaw Media after serving as the long-time president of the Shaw-controlled Corus Entertainment.

And Global Television will continue to play catch-up with Canada's top-rated conventional TV network, CTV, which itself is subject to a pending $3.2 billion takeover by domestic phone giant BCE Inc.

CTV, which has monster hits like CBS' Big Bang Theory and ABC's Amazing Race, is on a tear after all eight rookie series it debuted this fall received full-season orders.

These include CBS' Blue Bloods, which has secured an total average audience of 1.93 million Canadians for CTV on Fridays, and 1.9 million viewers for CBS' S#*! My Dad Says on Thursdays, and 1.84 million viewers for ABC's No Ordinary Family on Tuesdays.

Source: Etan Vlessing, Hollywood Reporter

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The Cultural Desirability of Canadian Broadcasting

In 1984, the newly elected Mulroney government was making noises about cutting CBC’s funding. Fearing for the public broadcaster’s survival, a few supporters gathered in the offices of the Canadian Association for Adult Education to create an organization called, quaintly, Friends of Public Broadcasting. Among its founders were Pierre Berton, Dalton Camp, Chaviva Hosek, Peter Herrndorf, Peter Newman, Ian Morrison (the executive director of the CAAE, who emerged later as the group’s spokesperson), and I. In time, Friends of Public Broadcasting would become Friends of Canadian Broadcasting, concerned with the quality and quantity of Canadian radio and television as a whole, but in the beginning our cause was the beleaguered CBC.

There are two ways to look at the Crown corporation’s $1.1 billion annual parliamentary appropriation: it is both a lot of money, and not nearly enough. In its current configuration — two services, English and French, broadcasting news and entertainment, regionally and nationally, in three formats (television, radio, and the Internet) — CBC needs, not $1.1 billion, but $1.5 billion. The corporation generates the difference by selling advertising, competing with the country’s private broadcasters, and, in the process and by slow degrees, remaking itself in their image. To wit: it now offers its English-speaking audience the popular American game shows Jeopardy! and Wheel of Fortune. More people watch such programs than, say, The Fifth Estate or The Nature of Things, so they attract more advertising. The end is thought to justify the means.

The Canadian broadcasting industry is bewilderingly complex, but as one of the Friends I came to understand that the job of the country’s public broadcaster is to provide culturally desirable programming that private broadcasters cannot or will not provide. The hard part, of course, is defining the words “culturally desirable.” Obviously, the country would be no poorer for the lack of Jeopardy! or Wheel of Fortune. But what about Dragons’ Den or Battle of the Blades? A tougher call, although they are the types of nutrient-free entertainments to which private broadcasters are predisposed. But there are no pat answers here — only the obligation, because the CBC is mostly publicly funded, to ask the question: is this a program, unavailable elsewhere, that enriches the culture? The debates are never ending, and they should be.

Until recently, for instance, it was possible to argue that CBC was performing a public service by televising NHL hockey games. Hockey is a staple to which all Canadians should have access, and in remote regions CBC’s was once the only available signal. But no more. In the digital age, private networks have as much reach as the public broadcaster, and just as much interest in cashing in on the public’s appetite for the game — TSN already owns the rights to many weekday games and some playoff series. Still, CBC TV continues to devote an enormous piece of its prime-time schedule to Hockey Night in Canada, not because private broadcasters are unable or unwilling to do so, but because hockey is money. As with Jeopardy! and Wheel of Fortune, the tail wags the dog.

During the recent, brief tenure of Richard Stursberg as head of English Radio and Television — the subject of Trevor Cole’s article (“Dragon Done”) in this issue — CBC’s pursuit of ratings was motivated by ideology as well as money. Stursberg — and he is not alone — believes the public broadcaster is failing Canadian taxpayers if it caters only to the country’s elites. But chasing mass audiences leads inevitably to a type of programming — the broadcasting equivalent of fast food — that makes CBC increasingly indistinguishable from private broadcasters. Which invites the question: why bother? Surely the point of having a public broadcaster is to provide alternatives to the private broadcasters’ burgers and fries — less popular but more nutritious programs that otherwise would not be on offer.

Canada, as our politicians constantly remind us, is a wonderful country. Too few of them appreciate the role CBC has played in the construction of this kinder, gentler place. If they did, we would not rank near the bottom of Western industrialized societies in our support for public broadcasting. And the likelihood of this changing any time soon is remote, because Brian Mulroney’s was neither the first nor the last Canadian government to look upon CBC with deep mistrust, mistaking its independence for hostility. So the story continues. On its website, Friends of Canadian Broadcasting recently posted a chart showing the decline in government funding for CBC, from 1990 to 2010, indexed by prime minister (Mulroney, Chrétien, Martin, Harper) and expressed in 2010 dollars. To read it is to understand that twenty-five years after the founding of the Friends of Canadian Broadcasting the public broadcaster is still beleaguered, and its survival still in doubt.

By John Macfarlane © The Walrus

Black Canadian Journalists Launch Association


“Equality, Fraternity, Opportunity”
Spring, 1997
A leading group of black journalists has joined to spread some network news
By: Shee-Mee Yeh, Ryerson Review of Journalism

On the evening of January 20, 1994, Angela Lawrence sat in disbelief as she watched a TV Ontario program featuring a panel discussion on diversity in Canadian newsrooms. Among the four panelists was radio and television commentator Dick Smythe, who argued that the dearth of newsroom diversity was due to a lack of qualified candidates in the field. "How many dark-skinned people do we see out there?" he asked, noting how few minorities there were in the audience of mainly journalism students.

Like many of her peers, Lawrence, senior editor of Canadian Select Homes, had been hearing about an idea to form an association for black journalists for years, but nothing had come of it. Inflamed by Smythe's comments and inspired by her sister, who had helped form the Black Law Students Association of Canada while studying at the University of Toronto, Lawrence decided to pursue the idea. She tracked down CBC Evening News reporter Hamlin Grange, who had once discussed the prospect of forming a group with a few fellow journalists. He told her that if she was willing to put in the time, then he was willing to help. A year later, on February 2, 1996, at Ryerson Polytechnic University, approximately 200 people attended the launch of the Canadian Association of Black Journalists with Lawrence as its president. For many in the black community, the common sentiment was that it was about time.

Hamlin Grange, who became the CABJ's vice-president, remembers that 20 years ago all of Toronto's black journalists could fit around one restaurant table. Today, while there have been no surveys of staffing patterns across all media, smaller studies show that the number of black journalists is still lower than population patterns would suggest. For example, a 1993 survey conducted by the Canadian Daily Newspaper Association (now the Canadian Newspaper Association) of 41 daily newsrooms showed that of the 2,620 professional journalists working there, only 67, or 2.6 percent, were visible minorities, although visible minorities make up 9.4 percent of Canadians. In an attempt to change this, one of the CABJ's goals is to encourage black students to pursue careers in journalism. But the organization's main aim is to establish a network of black journalists.

In an industry where success is often determined as much by who you know as what you know, the importance of networking and building contacts is incalculable. Many black journalists and other minority journalists have felt isolated over the years because they had virtually no contacts or mentors within the industry. Citytv videographer and assignment editor Dwight Drummond was one of them. He wishes the CABJ had existed while he was a radio and television arts student at Ryerson six years ago. While it seemed that many of his classmates had solid contacts within the industry, he had to search endlessly for a connection. "I had no one to really turn to who could help me and I actually had to go out and find these people," says Drummond, a CABJ member. His search ended when he spotted reporter Royson James' picture and byline in The Toronto Star. After giving James a call, Drummond was able to shadow him for a few days. From that time forward, Drummond was able to rely on James as a resource and mentor whenever he had questions or concerns.

Now, at the CABJ's monthly meetings at Toronto's central YMCA, the 70 members have the opportunity to meet other working professionals in the industry. (Membership is open to those in media-related occupations, including researchers, photographers and public relations professionals; students are welcome if they are at an accredited college or university studying journalism or journalism-related subjects). Some evenings' programs are designed to help members build their connections. At one of last year's meetings, Trevor Wilson, a diversity management consultant and former host of CFMT's Black World, ran a networking workshop. He talked about networking in light of the ineffective employment equity legislation currently in place, stressing the importance of maintaining contacts among members and keeping each other informed of job opportunities in the workplace.

On a larger scale, the association has entertained the idea of a future affiliation with the U.S.-based National Association of Black Journalists. Founded by a group of 21 journalists in 1975, the 3,000-strong NABJ is the largest media organization for people of colour in the world. Its mission is, not surprisingly, very similar to the CABJ's. The NABJ's accomplishments provide a glimpse of what the CABJ might achieve in the next 20 years.

Each year, the NABJ awards over $70,000 in scholarships to black journalism students and offers fellowships to seasoned journalists. Its renowned annual convention provides hands-on education and training for members, whether they are at entry level or already well established. At the gathering, students also receive hands-on training in the various journalistic disciplines. In print, for example, a number of students produce a daily newspaper under the supervision of professionals.

At last year's convention in Nashville, guest speakers included U.S. Vice-President Al Gore, presidential candidate Robert Dole and Church of Islam minister Louis Farrakhan. President Bill Clinton has indicated he will attend the 1997 conference. Another feature of the convention is the job fair, which routinely attracts 150 or so recruiters from media outlets across the U.S. The association also runs two toll-free, 24-hour joblines (one each for print and broadcast) that members can call to hear of available job opportunities.

While an affiliation with the NABJ has been considered since the CABJ's launch, the idea of ties with the Canadian Association of Journalists was never an issue. The CAJ, which has 1,500 members across the country, is home to seven subgroups, including ones for women, journalism educators, critics and photojournalists, but has never had a caucus for minority journalists. The reason, according to CAJ national president Tom Arnold, is because "the issue has never been addressed." Does that mean there isn't a need for one? "No, I don't think so. You just have to take a look around the newsrooms to see if minority journalists are represented and they're not."

Still, some critics of the CAJ think the absence of a minority caucus isn't the only issue that's never been addressed. The association frequently talks about general issues-the CBC cutbacks, freedom of information, the concentration of ownership by Conrad Black-but seldom spends time on anything of specific concern to racial minorities. "The things that are put on the front burner aren't necessarily issues that concern us as journalists of colour," says Hamlin Grange. "I don't see employment equity and portrayal of blacks in the media."

To begin putting some of these issues on the front burner, the CABJ organized a panel discussion last April about crime reporting in the media. Participants included Toronto Sun columnist Christie Blatchford, Toronto Star Life and Diversity editor Carola Vyhnak and Michael Van Cooten, publisher of Pride, a Toronto weekly for the black community. The occasion was an opportunity for members to air important questions, questions such as why the media continues to stereotype black males as criminals. The discussion was especially relevant for Dwight Drummond, who became a journalist because of his desire to report on his community accurately. Growing up in the Jane and Finch area, he saw firsthand how unfairly blacks were being portrayed. "I felt that there were a lot of positive people in my neighbourhood and if people watched the news or read the papers, they would think only negative things were happening."
Another criticism is the lack of "mainstreaming" in the media-that is, including minorities in all types of news stories, so that a story on, say, the effects of the recession on Canadian families would focus on an Asian or East Indian family, or a piece on innovations in dentistry might feature a black dentist. Instead, the major media often include minorities only in race-related stories. Even then, they get it wrong. Freelance PR consultant and CABJ secretary Valerie Wint says the media "will call on a black person to talk about the whole black community and not understand that the black community is actually several communities."

But perhaps the biggest challenge for the CABJ is tackling institutional racism in the industry. The 1993 CDNA study explored the reasons given by the papers as to why they weren't hiring more minority journalists. More than half blamed a hiring freeze, while others cited the availability of qualified candidates as the problem. Jules Elder, editor of Share newspaper, calls the latter reason a "cop-out." He says many CABJ members are university graduates coming out of journalism schools. Not only do they have the academic qualifications, but the experience as well, with some having worked in the United States, England or the Caribbean. "I think that they will use excuses," says Angela Lawrence. She recites the experience of a colleague wanting to progress to a larger city newspaper from the black community paper where he'd been working. When he contacted one Toronto daily, he was told no positions were available because of a hiring freeze. A month later, while covering an event, he met a young, white reporter newly employed by the same paper.

An isolated incident or typical of what many minorities have been experiencing for decades? According to CABJ member Fil Fraser, president and CEO of Vision TV, "One of the things that coming together in an association does is to allow you to compare notes and see just what the landscape really is." Throughout his own 45-year career, Fraser fortunately has faced virtually no discrimination. Initially, being black may even have worked in his favour since he was considered "exotic," being one of the very few black men working in the industry at the time and the first in broadcasting. "But what's different today is there are thousands of blacks trying to get into these professions and they are a threat to the people who are there. It doesn't need to be a threat, but people respond in that way; it's just a part of human nature."

Representation, access, equity, portrayal in the media-Hamlin Grange believes the CABJ has already begun working to resolve these issues by talking about them in workshops, discussions and forums. As problems present themselves, the association can pen letters and meet managers of media outlets to voice recommendations and grievances. In a more proactive way, the CABJ has created a speaker's bureau that provides members to address students at public schools, universities, and colleges.

However, Ashante Infantry, a city reporter at The Toronto Star, doesn't think the CABJ can resolve representation or equity problems, nor does she necessarily see that as its role. But Infantry does endorse the CABJ's commitment to encouraging young people to enter journalism. "Once there are more blacks and other minorities working in news organizations, they're going to be more sensitive to those issues, they're going to think about it and are going to force everybody else to think about it."

To this end, the CABJ has sent letters to the 15 elementary and secondary schools with the highest population of black students in the greater Toronto area, inviting them to contact the association if they would like to have members as guest speakers. "Schools can come to us and say we'd like a journalist to come out and talk to the kids so they can see that journalists aren't always white. They can be black, they can be East Indian, they can be Asian," says Lawrence. By the end of June, the association will have a career resource centre set up so students and journalism schools will be able to find out about job openings and internship programs. The CABJ is also planning two scholarships in the names of the late Al Hamilton, publisher of Contrast, a now-defunct black advocacy paper, and Mary Ann Shadd, the first black woman in Canada to be the publisher of her own newspaper, the Provincial Freeman, an abolitionist newspaper she established in 1853.

The only obstacles to CABJ success seem to be money and numbers. It's almost impossible to find anyone who doesn't think the organization is a good idea. "Every credible black journalist I know belongs to it and I think it does a very strong job of being available to up-and-coming journalists in a way that other journalistic associations could only admire," says Globe managing editor Colin MacKenzie. "They're certainly among the people who keep the diversity fire burning under the bums of people like me."

As for the argument that the association represents reverse discrimination, Hamlin Grange has this to say: "It's not segregation, it's specification. It's saying that these people have specific needs and requirements and concerns that are not being addressed elsewhere and they come together as a group to talk about it. Anyone can join as long as you support the goals and objectives of the association.

But I think it also becomes a self-monitoring kind of thing," he adds. "For example, would you join the Ukrainian Association of Journalists if you didn't speak the language? Probably not. The important thing that people have to come away with this association is that ultimately it will become a place where industry and the people entering the business can come to for information."

But more importantly perhaps is the group's ability to provide a positive community of people who have the same goals and interests. As Fil Fraser says, "They're really interested in improving the lot of its members, they're not out there to walk around with chips on their shoulders looking for battles to fight. They're out there to solve problems, not to fight battles."