A letter from our board President to our Dance Community
Dearest community of dancers,
The information I bring you is a bit nitty-gritty and under most circumstances the actions of a board meeting are made available in due time after minutes are approved etc. In this case however, community interest is heightened and I see it’s appropriate to announce the outcome of part of our meeting. The first part of this post deals with the banning of a local dancer. The second part is a call to action— what your community needs from you to move toward a healthier dance.
As promised, the Old Farmers Ball board of directors met on Sunday, Dec. 10. In addition to a quorum of board members, we had four guests from the dance community.
At the meeting we adopted a new piece of policy as follows:
“In the event of sexual harassment and/or sexual assault complaints, the Old Farmers Ball will bar or ban the accused from all its events until such accusations are resolved either legally or through personal reconciliation to the satisfaction of the Old Farmers Ball Board of Directors.”
This new policy empowers the board to act on direct, first-party complaints about sexually harassing or assaulting behaviour that affects the physical safety of our dancers, even in cases where the assault or harassment has happened elsewhere, if the action has caused a dancer to feel unsafe coming to our dance events. The policy also allows for a matter to be resolved and a banned or barred dancer to return without penalty. The policy is broad, but I believe it should not be seen as an instant retribution or punishment mechanism, rather it is a tool to help our dance err on the side of safety and protection of the vulnerable. It is possible to imagine scenarios where the policy could be exploited by a vindictive party, but this is a trade-off we are willing to risk when safety is on the line. It should be noted that the banning and barring does not attach judgement to it, as that is not for an organization to levy.
With strength of the new policy we acted on a serious and credible complaint a dancer brought to us about a local dancer. In response to that complaint, based on the new policy, we passed the following motion unanimously:
“A local dancer, having been accused of sexual assault and sexual abuse and creating an unsafe dance environment, is hereby banned from all Old Farmers Ball events, until unanimous decision by the Old Farmers Ball Board of Directors to reinstate his participation.”
I personally would like to thank the person who lodged the complaint for her bravery in standing up for safe space and creating an environment of consent. After all the organization can only act if we have information to act on. This makes it imperative that people who feel their safety is threatened by assault or harassment of a sexual nature speak up and report problems.
Based on the policy, it is not the responsibility of our dance community to rehabilitate dancers who engage in behaviour that results in their banning. And the burden will be on the accused to show this board that they can be viable members of the community by resolving the accusation.
It will be the responsibility of this board to see that there is an avenue for complaints to be resolved and it is the responsibility of all involved to pursue resolution where possible.
In this instance, the board has done its part to protect a safe dance environment. To maintain a safe and positive dance culture, further work is needed and that work must be done by the whole community and I am here recruit you.
To that end, the other more important and proactive response action of the board was to create a new committee called the Dance Behavior Policy Committee. This committee is charged with outlining thresholds of acceptable dance behavior, creating a process for making and resolving complaints, and sculpting a harassment policy, all of which will be submitted to the board for approval to become the policy of our events. We also charged a standing committee, the Dance Development Committee, with exploring ways to improve our dance culture and create resources and events for people to be educated and educate others on positive dance citizenship.
Importantly, for the time being I have chosen to leave both committees entirely unappointed, even to the point that they have no chairpersons. This committee work will not be adequately done unless the work is done by fresh and enthusiastic brains. The board will be represented on these committees, but if you are interested in serving on either or both of these committees please comment here or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. This work is for the community to do together.
And one more thing:
We are planning our annual meeting, potluck and dance — and a newly created segment of the event will be devoted to town-hall style listening and discussion around this specific action and the general state of the dance around harassment issues. Stay tuned for further announcements about that event.
Able Allen, OFB Board President
All event community calendar Please check menu for specific dance events and locations
New Year’s Eve
Diane Silver calling with Hot Sonata for your dancing pleasure
Doors open at 7 with Imaginarium and couple dancing till 8, Contra until 12:30
$25 before Dec 25, $30 afterwards
buy tickets here
Check out our new activities on the Harvest House page.
Join us for our first dance of the new year!! Spread the word, and bring all your friends and neighbors!
3:30pm-4:00pm, Pre-Dance Workshop for Beginners that includes our regular dancers dancing and helping the beginners.
$7/$6 for OFB Members
No partner necessary; wear comfortable clothes and shoes; fragrance-free dance.