Members of the 3.7% Initiative. Photo: Boca del Lupo.
Members of the 3.7% Initiative. Photo: Boca del Lupo.

Forget the 1%, meet the 3.7% of the new initiative from Vancouver’s Boca del Lupo.

Developed by Boca del Lupo’s artistic director Sherry J Yoon, the 3.7 Initiative takes its name from the small percentage of key creative roles in Canadian theatre held by ethnically and culturally diverse women. Its express purpose is to help women who self-identify as ethnically and culturally diverse to find greater success in their performing arts practice.

With over 60 members now on its roster, the 3.7% Initiative is stepping out for the first time with Envision, a showcase of nine immersive micro excerpts of new contemporary work by Women of Colour, Multiracial, Indigenous and Metis artists.

“The driving force for all involved in the Initiative is about the art and being artists,” says Yoon. “This is the first outward facing event that we’ve done inspired by the work of this amazing group of artists who happen to be BIPOC [Black and Indigenous People of Colour] and non-binary female humans.”

Inspired by HIVE, the innovative theatrical series co-produced by Boca del Lupo and the Progress Lab group of independent theatre companies, Envision also draws on Boca del Lupo’s Micro Performance Series where audience members will have a chance to engage with all nine pieces in small groups.

Presented in a non-traditional theatrical format, audiences will move between each performance inside Granville Island’s Performance Works. It is a format Yoon sees as both disruptive and personal.

“I think we spend a lot of time accommodating how the world frames us,” she says. “I think in an intimate setting, audiences are immersed into a world and we have a greater agency of how we are viewed and communicating what shapes us and what our inspirations are.”

Working with the artists involved in choosing the nine excerpts from full-length plays, Yoon made it a priority to highlight work written or created by 3.7% artists, or which highlighted the cultural and artistic context each artist identified with. And while there is no single theme explored in Envisions, Yoon is hopeful audiences will find their own ties, themes and through-lines between the excerpts.

While one of the stated goals of the 3.7% Initiative is to “strengthen the performing arts sector through greater diversity”, the idea behind Envision goes beyond giving its members a platform to perform.

“It is about creating community especially within the 3.7%, and connecting the key artists to artistic directors, established and emerging artists that they admire, to see their work and to rally around the future of contemporary Vancouver work,” says Yoon.

As unique as the showcase itself, Envision will also feature two-tier pricing with ticket prices set at $3.70 for female and non-binary BIPOC performing artists, and $20 for everyone else.

“The priority is to create community, and open to the rest of the communities at large,” explains Yoon of the pricing.  “The 3.7% is what the focus of the initiative is and the showcase is to share.  Keeping the artists who need to be supported and part of the conversation a priority was best communicated in the two-tier pricing system.”

It is a showcase Yoon hopes will provide “inspirations, joy, thought provocation, good chats, and most importantly, fun for audiences”.

“The micro work is such a gift,” concludes Yoon. “Immersing one’s self into nine different worlds and having a chance to be part of something so unique is such a special exchange.  I hope that most people will receive the work in the spirit in which it was created.”

Envision features performances by eleven members of the 3.7% Initiative, with excerpts from Possessed (Diana Bang); ‘Da Kink in My Hair (Mariam Barry, Gavan Cheema); You Used to Call Me Marie (Tai Grauman); Fireflies (Kanon Hewitt); We’ve Heard About This Thing Called Life (Arggy Jenati); Otosan (Shizuka Kai); Nisei Mending Circle (Carolyn Nakagawa, Laura Fukumoto); Lip Service (Natalie Tin Yin Gan); and Akashi (Mayumi Yoshida).

Envision plays Performance Works on Granville Island March 20-23. Visit bocadellupo.com for tickets and information.