Toronto’s Why Not Theatre Launches Inaugural ThisGen Fellowship | Playbill

International News Toronto’s Why Not Theatre Launches Inaugural ThisGen Fellowship
The new program will support female-identifying BIPOC artists throughout the course of a year.
Why Not's inaugural cohort of the ThisGen 2020 Fellowship
Why Not's inaugural cohort of the ThisGen 2020 Fellowship

Toronto's Why Not theatre company has launched a new leadership program to support female-identifying BIPOC (Black Indigenous Person of Color) theatre artists. The fellowship, called ThisGen, pairs fellows with both a national and an international mentor to engage in conversation, and provides them with support, skill-building opportunities, and access to new networks.

The inaugural cohort of fellows, selected from across Canada, includes Intisar Awisse, Tai A Grauman, Bianca Guimarães de Manuel, Crystal Lee, Nikki Shaffeeullah, Olivia Shortt, and Echo Zhou.

Why Not's ThisGen 2020 Fellowship kicked off in May, with activities taking place online due to the continuing public health crisis. This includes virtual meetings with mentors, peer-to-peer discussions, and master classes, in addition to receiving a budget for self-directed online learning. Phase Two, which is aimed at in-person mentorship, will be re-evaluated in September.

“We as a company are taking this time to look inward and focus on the development of artists," shared Why Not Artistic Director Ravi Jain. "This moment we are in is unprecedented and unique, and for many, the hope is that when we return, things will be different. Why Not has spent a lot of time, through our art and through programs like ThisGen Fellowship, to address entrenched systems and barriers in the arts. With this fellowship, we aim to elevate and grow the incredible female leadership in our industry, and to continue to do the work to ensure that when we return there will be more space for ALL artists to thrive.”

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