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Authority record

Black Theater Workshop

  • BTW1
  • Corporate body
  • 1972-

The Black Theater Workshop (BTW), also known as the “Theatre B.T.W.," is an English-speaking theatre company located in Montreal, Quebec that “is committed to reflecting Black culture and community by developing and providing visibility for Black Canadian artists.”

Incorporated in 1972 as a non-profit organization, the BTW is the oldest Black theater company in Canada. Beginning in 1965 as the Trinidad & Tobago Association (TTA) Drama group with the goal of becoming a theatre for the whole Montreal community, the TTA drama group became the Black Theatre Workshop in 1971 with the presentation of How Now Black Man, written by Lorris Elliott and directed by Jeff Henry. To respect the rules of French language use in Quebec, the Workshop officially changed its name to “Theatre B.T.W.” in January 1984.

The mission of the BTW “is to encourage and promote the development of a Black and Canadian Theater, rooted in a literature that reflects the creative will of Black Canadian writers and artists, and the creative collaborations between Black and other artists.” The Black Theater Workshop primarily stages the work of Black Canadian playwrights and selects plays that deal with themes relevant to Black communities in Canada. Since the beginning of the 1980s, the Black Theater Workshop annually runs school tours as part of its regular season.

One of the 35 founding members of the BTW is Clarence Bayne, who also served as both president and artistic director during the first years of the theatre. Since 1991, he has been Vice-President of the organization’s Board of Directors. As Artistic Director, Clarence Bayne was followed by Errol Sitahal (1970s), Terry Donald (1970s), Dwight Bacquie (1983-1984), Lorena Gale (1984-1985), Don Jordan (1985-1988), Winston Sutton (1988-1994), Fleurette Fernando (1994-1996), Nancy Delva (1997-1999), Kate Bligh (1999-2001), Rachael Van Fossen (2001-2005), and Tyrone Benskin (2005-2011). Since 2011, Quincy Armorer has been Artistic Director at the BTW. The BTW is governed by a board of Directors, which is presently formed by Jacklin Webb (president), Dr. Clarence Bayne (vice-president), Dr. Horace Goddard (secretary), Phylicia Burke (treasurer), Yvonne Greer (member), and Allison DaCosta.

The BTW is the recipient of numerous awards, including various Montreal English Theatre Awards (META) and several Montreal’s English Critics Circle Awards (MECCA).

From 1976 to 1985, the BTW used Montreal’s Centaur Theatre performing space. In 1984, BTW opened its first administrative office, and started performing in a space rented from L’Atelier Contenu. In the 1990s, offices were located at 1827 Ste Catherine West. Since 2003, the workshop is using the spaces of the Montréal Arts Interculturels (MAI) Centre, located at 3680 rue Jeanne-Mance.

Bland, John

  • JB1
  • Person
  • November 13, 1911 - March 26, 2002

John Bland, emeritus professor of architecture at McGill University, distinguished architect, town planner, architectural historian and author.

Blue Metropolis Foundation

  • BM3
  • Corporate body
  • 1997-

The Blue Metropolis Foundation was incorporated as a not-for-profit organization in 1997. Its incorporation was done in conjunction with the creation of Blue Metropolis Inc., owned by Linda Leith. Initially created to help collect funds for projects like a literary magazine, the purpose of the Foundation soon became the organization of an annual literary festival. This festival, named the Blue Metropolis Montreal International Literary Festival, was inspired by “Write pour écrire,” an event organized in 1996 by three Montreal writers in partnership with the Union des écrivaines et des écrivains québécois (UNEQ).

The first Blue Metropolis Montreal International Literary Festival took place at the Europa Hotel on Drummond Street in Montreal from April 19 to 23, 1999. In addition to readings, on-stage interviews, and panel discussions, events included the first Blue Metropolis Translation Slam, literacy programming, and community writing activities. These events took place in both English and French. Certain events were bilingual.

The second Blue Met festival took place in 2000 at the Hotel des Gouverneurs, Place Dupuis, in Montreal. During this iteration, Spanish became the third “official” language of the Festival. For the first time, the “Grand prix littéraire international Metropolis bleu” was assigned. It was in that year that CBC Radio and Radio-Canada began their involvement with the Festival. Since 2000, the Foundation has expanded its programming beyond the Festival and began organizing a wide range of educational programs for children and adolescents. The first such program was the Student Literary Program, which was first introduced at the Festival in 2000. The Foundation continues to offer year-round literacy activities.

In subsequent years, new languages were added to each iteration of the Festival. Events in non-official languages, including Italian, Dari, Farsi, later Arabic, Russian, and Chinese, were offered without translation. In order to offer programs in various languages, the Festival conducted outreach to various communities and established partnerships with different community organizations.

In 2007, the Blue Metropolis Arab Literary Prize was created, with annual funding from the Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture and Heritage.

Linda Leith was president of the Blue Metropolis Foundation from 2003 to 2011.

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