Back in April of this year, the Falun Dafa Association of Calgary, presenters of Shen Yun Performing Arts wrote a letter to Heather Klimchuk, the Minister of Culture and Community Spirit. The letter outlined concerns over the Southern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium’s attitude and behavior toward the performance group. They did not express concerns about the Northern Alberta Jubilee.
The group has felt hostility at past performances and feels like the conduct of the Jubilee staff and management has deteriorated year after year. In 2010, SAJA posted warnings on theatre entrances that the show was violent and not suitable for children.
This year an additional concern involved a Jubilee worker walking into the make shift change room for the female dancers. Though this incident was an accident, unfortunately the response from SAJA’s Production manager was one of laughter.
The performing group was also concerned about a severe technical error during one of their performances. The theatre production’s manager was unwilling to apologize for the error.
SAJA installed a safety net over the orchestra pit, which has been the critical point Minister Klimchuk has focused on. It is understood that the safety net is required, but the fact that the performing group wasn’t made aware of the net before they signed the contract, and were informed the day of their performance was troubling. The group requested a written apology and an invitation for Shen Yun to return to Calgary.
The overarching issue is the attitude of SAJA toward the performance group at least as experienced in Calgary. Feeling backed into a corner, the group has gone to their elected representatives and the media to try and find a resolution and repair their working relationship.
Minister Klimchuk’s response came on the 30th of April, stating that she feels that “by not contacting the manager of the Jubilee Auditoria directly to address the issues, nor giving [her] the opportunity to respond to [the group's] letter directly before sharing the information through the media and elected representatives, [they] may have missed an opportunity to resolve the issues.” The organization has tried repeatedly to deal with these concerns internally without satisfaction.
Klimchuk feels that “the relationship has deteriorated to the point that [she] doesn’t believe it can be resolved.” She then requests that the group “find other venues for future bookings, including [their] 2013 dates in the Northern and Southern Jubilee Auditoria.”
Without meeting the group to try and facilitate a resolution, the Minister has effectively kicked the performing arts group out of the province because they voiced their concerns to their elected official and the media. Clearly, the Redford government hasn’t changed, still not allowing dissent and punishing those who dare to criticize them. This ousting of the performance group does not support diverse arts in this province.
The Minister should follow through with a meeting with Shen Yun officials and repair this blight on our cultural and human rights reputation.