Text: Ilse Ghekiere
During a big performing arts festival in Brussels I happened to exchange some words with an important international programmer. She asked me what I was doing. I told her I had been working as a dancer for many years, but that recently I had been focusing on my work as an activist and a writer. "O!", she said, "that's so interesting: what do you write about? I would like to read something" I told her that I had been very involved in the #metoo-discussion. "I write about sexual harassment and abuse of power", I said, to which she rolled her eyes: "Oh no, not #metoo again! I am so fed up with #metoo! Just get over it. In that case, I am absolutely not interested in your writing!" She laughed as if she had just said something funny. I turned around and walked away, thinking if anyone should be fed up, it should be me." So far my bravoing of certain programmers' headless entitlement.
Here are our questions:
- How has the #metoo movement affected you/your institution?
- What sexual harassment and discrimination policies exist in your institution? Are these procedures known to all your employees/students, including the artists who temporarily visit your institution?
- If you as a programmer would know that one of the artists you are supporting is being accused of sexual harassment or other unethical ways of working, would this influence your support towards this artist?
- Is #metoo a threat to artistic freedom? Is there a price to pay for great art?
- Should dancers and artists mentally and physically suffer under a choreographer's direction for the sake of great art?
- Do you think Balanchine was justified in restricting dancers' romantic relationships, creating a hierarchy of dancers based on those willing to engage with him sexually, and having the dancers work grueling hours to produce the ballets that are celebrated today?
- Do you think a company/ freelance group that is free from sexism, racism, and homophobia and was created with healthy safe working conditions and a living wage would produce great works of art?
- What are your plans to structurally change your institution to ensure that it is free from sexual harassment and discrimination?