D.W. Waterson Takes On The CNE’s lack of Diversity In Entertainment Act Selection
Leave it to local promoter D.W. Waterson to call out the Canadian National Exhibition for its disproportionate ratio of male – female acts during this year’s lineup. Taking this problem head on, Waterson writes in an open letter to the Ex, “Last year, a couple of friends of mine pointed out that the line up was incredibly male dominated and had only one female act so I was very hopeful to see some changes. Unfortunately, nothing has changed…”
After gaining much attention, the CNE’s general manager, Virginia Ludy, rebutted with a vague reply, “I disagree with the comments made in this individual’s letter. We have over 1,000 performers here at the CNE, many of whom are women. I am concerned when we have a promoter, you know a promoter who would have a financial interest in booking acts, sending a letter like this. That to me, you know, is a little bit self-serving.”
What’s actually concerning is that this is not the first time the CNE has been called out for its lack of diversity. Blog.to pointed out that several festivals in Toronto this year alone including Veld and OVO fest were completely male dominated. Ironically, festivals such as Veld in particular had a 100% male lineup, yet their sponsored Facebook adds showed girls wearing next to nothing in hopes of luring patrons to buy tickets.
“We’re just looking for the best talent we can get,” Ludy says. “Male or female, we don’t care.”
This is a symptom of a much bigger problem; YOU SHOULD CARE. If you are a promoter for the exhibition’s events and say there is not enough female talent to go around then you clearly are not aware of the abundance of female talent that exists in this massive city. The lack of female musicians and filmmakers on their “National” exhibition lineup is not an accurate representation of what Toronto has to offer.
Not to mention the CNE’s general manager refers to D.W. Waterson as “this individual” and calls her motivations for the open letter “Self-serving”… is she not aware that D.W. Waterson is an active member in the electronic music scene and the indie film scene in Toronto? She has her own web show series That’s My DJ, which just got selected for ITV Fest – Independent Television Festival and the New York Television Festival. She has her own music project Hey! DW as a producer, who also puts on events on every Wednesday called Home Brew, showcasing other local artists of various genres of music. To say her motives are a bit self-serving is a pretty far reach.
D.W. Waterson is leading the way in Toronto’s scene in terms of genuine events, quality talent, and fighting sexism all in one. It sounds like the Canadian National Exhibition doesn’t know what they’re dealing with. And perhaps this lack of a female lineup symptom leads to a less genuine, more aggressive crowd. On Tuesday August 30th a brawl broke out, causing patrons’ safety to be at risk and the CNE to be shut down for the evening. I can’t say there’s ever been a brawl at D.W. Waterson’s events.
— Ali Binesh (@AliBinesh) August 31, 2016
It seems to me that the CNE is getting a small taste of karma coming their way. The amount of poor reviews left on their Facebook page this year is overwhelming, just another symptom of the bigger problem. Perhaps next year, instead of accusing a concerned activist in the Toronto scene of selfish motvies, the Ex should consider working with D.W. Waterson in regards to their talent bookings. At least one of them is on the right track.
Serafina Thoma – Euphoradio