British Columbia

Vancouver's art and entertainment industry launches conversation about consent

After a spate of sexual assault allegations, Vancouver's independent arts and nightlife scene is grappling with how to handle issues of consent and accountability.

'There are a lot of venuues where sexual harassment seems to be a part of the entertainment’

Ana Rose Carrico, director of the Red Gate Arts Society in Vancouver, is pushing for a public conversation about consent and responsibility in the arts and entertainment industry. (Peter Scobie/CBC)

After a spate of sexual assault allegations, Vancouver's independent arts and nightlife scene is grappling with how to handle issues of consent and accountability.

Late last October, a document was circulated on social media listing the names of seven prominent local DJs that the people posting claimed had committed sexual assault.

One of the men took his own life the week the list was posted.

The list of accusations followed on the heels of the #MeToo campaign, where women took to social media to highlight their experiences with harassment, in the wake of the Harvey Weinstein sexual assault scandal.

"It feels like we are at a point where we are starting to speak about this, so the question is what do we do next," said Ana Rose Carrico, director of the Red Gate Arts Society in Vancouver.

Sexual harassment occurs in any industry, she told CBC Early Edition host Stephen Quinn but seems to be particularly prevalent in the nightclub scene.

"There are a lot of venues where sexual harassment seems to be a part of the entertainment," Carrico said. "There is definitely consensus that this is a conversation that needs to happen."

It's a conversation about responsibility and accountability — both from venue operators as well as promoters, performers and individuals attending shows.

Public discussion

Carrico said she hopes that by raising the issue publicly, it will give everyone the chance to be heard.

"This is the first time ever that people feel comfortable enough to come forward and speak about their experiences, so it's really powerful, but we need to figure out what we are going to do next," she said.

In terms of concrete actions beyond conversation, she said, her society has found success in posting community standards prior to an event.  

"We have them posted at the outside of the event, on the Facebook event page, and I feel that really helps just sort of put that into people's minds, as well as it empowers other people attending the event to intervene," she said.

Red Gate Arts Society is facilitating a town hall meeting to start a discussion about consent and accountability on Tuesday, Jan. 30, starting at 7 p.m.

With files from The Early Edition

now