MONTREAL – A second project by famed Quebec director Robert Lepage has been cancelled following widespread criticism of content judged culturally insensitive.“Kanata,” a play about the relationship between whites and Aboriginal Peoples, will not be performed in Paris in December as planned after American co-producers withdrew their interest in the project, Lepage and his Ex Machina production company said in a statement Thursday.The announcement came one week after Lepage held a six-hour meeting with about 30 members of the Indigenous community who had signed an open letter in Le Devoir newspaper denouncing the production for being an example of cultural appropriation.They were upset the play contained no Indigenous actors and little input from their community.The cancellation also follows a decision by Montreal’s jazz festival earlier this month to drop Lepage’s “SLAV” show, which featured a predominantly white cast picking cotton and singing songs composed by black slaves.In his statement, Lepage noted the “complex and often aggressive controversy surrounding (Kanata).”“Sooner or later we will need to try to understand — calmly and together — what cultural appropriation and the right to free artistic expression fundamentally are,” he said.Nakuset, the executive director of the Native Women’s Shelter of Montreal, attended last week’s marathon meeting with Lepage and said she was “so happy” about Thursday’s news.Lepage could have chosen to include more “authentic” Indigenous elements in the show, she said, such as an inviting an elder to do an opening performance.“He could have said: ‘We’re bringing in a fantastic seamstress who will redo the costumes — that’s a change,” Nakuset said in an interview. “He had a golden opportunity to make changes, instead he was like: ‘Nah, (it’s) my money.’”The controversy surrounding the two theatre performances sparked a debate in Quebec society over the rights of white people to tell stories about minority groups.Lepage and his entourage have said they are the victims of an attack on artistic freedom.Many Quebec pundits agreed, including politicians such as Parti Quebecois Leader Jean-Francois Lisee, who tweeted Thursday, “this reversal of artistic freedom is intolerable.”He added that those who withdrew their support had “weak morals” and called on the Quebec premier to intervene.Activists protested outside the performance of SLAV in late June, accusing Lepage of making money off the pain and history of black people.Nakuset, who hasn’t seen Kanata, said she hadn’t thought about who was set to benefit financially from the project.“I hadn’t thought about the money,” she said. “I was thinking more about how this was going to reflect on Indigenous people and how this is going to shape their viewers watching it.”Nakuset says North American society has a tendency to use native imagery to portray commercial products such as buildings and sports teams as “strong and brave,” yet no one listens or wants to work with Indigenous Peoples or cares about them when they are homeless.Kanata claimed to explore Canada’s history “through the lens of the relationship between white and Aboriginal Peoples.”The co-producers’ interest in the project waned amid the controversy ahead of the planned debut in France in December by the Theatre du Soleil acting troupe.“Certain (co-producers) have now announced their withdrawal,” Lepage’s statement noted. “Considering what we recently went through, we certainly understand their concerns. But without their financial support, we are unable to finish creating Kanata with Theatre du Soleil.“Therefore, we are putting an end to the project.”“SLAV” is scheduled to be presented elsewhere in Quebec next year and Ex Machina says it will meet with those opposed to that show.Lepage and Ex Machina say they won’t comment further on Kanata’s cancellation.
A huge number of stars helped out at the Los Angeles Mission End Of Summer Block Party this weekend.Jen Lilley paints children’s faces as part of the Los Angeles Mission End of Summer Block PartyA national survey indicates that school supply prices have jumped again this year, significantly outpacing the rate of inflation. That means it is even more difficult for poor families especially those living in the Skid Row area of Los Angeles, to prepare their children for school this year.According to the National Retail Federation, school supplies will cost $581 for elementary students. The cost rises to $682 for middle school students and $683 for high school students, up an average of 5% from 2013.But the Los Angeles Mission has encouraged generous donors to help bridge that gap. Today, nearly a thousand children received backpacks full of school supplies and other goodies in the Mission¹s annual End of Summer Block Party Saturday.“We’re here to give the children a much-needed chance to have some fun,” said Herb Smith, president of the Los Angeles Mission. “But there is a serious side to this back to school event. We want to encourage these children to insist on going to school. Through no fault of their own, children suffer the consequences when families find themselves without a home. School attendance is a key predictor of success in life. We want the best for these little ones. So this annual event has come to mean a lot to the Los Angeles Mission. And, for the last 14 years, it has been a fun time for all.”Some thousand backpacks full of schools supplies were handed out to school-aged children on Saturday. The day was the result of a combined effort by nonprofits, businesses and people who just wanted to help children and families get the help they need.In order transform the mean streets into a safe place to play; the Los Angeles Mission closed 5th Street in front of the Mission. Inflatable bounce houses, giant slides, and kid-friendly games and crafts, along with a dunk tank, were set up for the kids to enjoy. The goal is nothing less than giving some fun to kids who don¹t get the chance to have very much fun. And, it is an exceptional, life-giving experience for those who volunteer.For more than 78 years, the Los Angeles Mission has been helping the addicted and the poor who lose themselves in the Skid Row area. What started as a soup kitchen in the Great Depression in 1936 continues to serve the newly needy in 2014.U.S. Bank has provided substantial financial support for this event.“Our employees are excited to volunteer for the Los Angeles Mission at its End of Summer Block Party. Like in the past, they enjoy distributing backpacks and school supplies to the children to help them get a great start to the school year,” said Sean Foley, president of U.S. Bank in Southern California. “In addition to the ‘tools for school’, U.S. Bank will donate $25,000 to Los Angeles Mission for its End of Summer Block Party. This is an event that is great for the children, their families, teachers and the community.”Much-needed financial support also came from ExakTime, the high-tech innovative time clock company.“It’s so great to give back to the community and the kids,” said Scott Prewett, an ExakTime founder. “We thank the Los Angeles Mission for giving us the opportunity to make a difference in a significant way.” ExakTime applauds the Mission’s many successful efforts to bring help, hope and opportunity to our city¹s needy families.All school-aged children from age 4 to 17 were eligible to receive a backpack. Nearly 1,000 backpacks and the school supplies that are so vitally necessary for the start of school were distributed. Supplies including pencils, notebooks, crayons, erasers, folders and arts & craft items were donated to fill the backpacks. Jackson-Hewitt and Office Depot contributed a variety of back-to-school items. While Amcor provided utensils and the necessary supplies for the meals.The Los Angeles Fire Department brought their fire fighting equipment with fire safety information for adults and kids alike.Celebrity volunteers are always a big part of every Los Angeles Mission event. Once again this year, celebrities worked their magic to make sure that everyone had a good time. They helped Block Party participants enjoy a tasty picnic of good food from three of L.A.’s popular food trucks: In-N-Out Burger, King Taco and The Grilled Cheese Truck.Among the stars were Jen Lilley, Brandon Molale, Brandon Tyler Russell, Dylan Riley Snyder, Kwesi Boakye and many more.In addition, volunteers from the marketing firm, Russ Reid, provided treats to families in the form of refreshing snow cones.Several hundred volunteers from all over the greater Los Angeles area gave of their time to make this event happen. Tens of thousands of volunteer hours are given by the many thousands of Mission volunteers each and every year.The famous “Nickel” – the name that Fifth Street has had ever since the Mission was founded back in the 1930’s - was closed to automobile traffic by 6:00 AM. Vehicular traffic was re-routed around the street between Wall and San Pedro so the street party set up could get started by early Saturday morning. That’s when families started arriving so they could get a place in line and still have plenty of time for food and fun before getting their back to school backpacks.Representatives from the Los Angeles Christian Health Centers and volunteer nursing students from all over the area provided health screenings including height and weight, body mass index calculation and nutrition information.
Call him the Gangster of Love. Call him Maurice. Call him the Space Cowboy. Call for your Charity Preview tickets now because on Jan. 16, rock legend Steve Miller Band will perform at the largest single night fundraiser in the world: the North American International Auto Show’s Charity Preview.“Everybody knows that Steve Miller speaks ‘the pompitus of love,’” said Scott LaRiche, chairman, NAIAS 2015. “Steve Miller Band is legendary and we are absolutely ecstatic that he’ll be our very special musical guest at Charity Preview, helping us celebrate an amazing night and a spectacular week in Detroit.”Admittance to “An Evening with Steve Miller Band” will be permitted with the purchase of a Charity Preview ticket. The special performance begins at 9 pm.“When the show floor closes, the legend begins,” said LaRiche.Charity Preview will be held from 6-9 pm. Tickets are $400 each ($390 of which is tax deductible) and available now at charitypreview.com.Since 1976, the Charity Preview has raised more than $96 million for Southeastern Michigan children’s charities — more than $45 million of which was raised in the last 10 years alone. Beneficiaries of NAIAS Charity Preview include: • Boys and Girls Clubs of Southeastern Michigan • Boys Hope Girls Hope Detroit • Children’s Center • Children’s Hospital of Michigan Foundation • The Detroit Institute for Children • Judson Center • March Of Dimes Metro Detroit • Detroit PAL • DADA Charitable Foundation Fund, a fund of the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan
* Above article reproduced from the Racing Post 12 December 2015. [dropcap]D[/dropcap]uring my early 20’s, I made some stunningly naive and rash business decisions. Because of this, I know that pain is the greatest teacher of them all. People can try to educate others, but if a trait is in an individual’s nature, it is unlikely that it will evacuate itself, until it’s been allowed to run free, and show itself to the world. However, during these times of self-infliction, I was fortunate enough to have several kind, well placed, and highly experienced mentors, watching over me.One of them, was Alan Isherwood.I would say that Alan, is one of the shrewdest and most worldly people, I have ever met in the game. ‘Doing a card’ for Ladbrokes, he gained the nickname ‘Ish the tish’ (tissue-prices). He travelled the open-race circuit, and when his crew descended on a track, to back a few dogs, it’s was like Don Corleone himself, accompanied by his henchmen, had arrived.Today, on page 112, of the Greyhound Post (reproduced below), you can read a rare interview with the great man.Alan is not a well boy. But this blog sends him it’s best wishes. Alan, I’m truly grateful, for all of your wise words, and guidance, over the years. THANK YOU.In other news:In the article, Alan Isherwood, names Premier Fantasy, as the fastest greyhound he has ever seen run. How tragic, that he broke a hock, before being able to complete his destiny, and win the Greyhound Derby. So often, you hear old-timers say that some dogs, the special ones, sadly end up being ‘too quick’. THE GAME CAN BE SO CRUEL.Over and out, B x