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Sunday, May 20, 2012

Host of Shen Yun calls on Premier to intervene

Host of Shen Yun calls on Premier to intervene and revoke Minister's decision to cancel shows at the Jubilee Auditorium and work toward a resolution

MWC: Calgary – The local host of Shen Yun is calling on Premier Allison Redford to intervene:to revoke the Alberta Culture Minister's decision to cancel the shows at the Auditoria, that the Alberta government not give in to foreign influence by the Chinese Communist government, and act committedly to resolve this issue in the interest of Albertans and the Province.

As the organizers of the performances by Shen Yun in Calgary, which Culture Minister Heather Klimchuck noted enjoys a “tremendous reputation” in Alberta, the Falun Dafa Association of Calgary was dismayed by the poor behaviour of the theatre management towards Shen Yun over the last three years, and the unwillingness on the part of both senior theatre management and the minister’s office to meet and address its concerns.

However, the recent conduct of Minister Klimchuck in response to the group’s concerns being made public is really beyond the pale and calls into question whose interests the Minister is serving.
Calgary local host of Shen Yun brought to light serious and valid concerns with the conduct of management at the Southern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium, and did so only after nearly a dozen failed attempts over the last three years to meet with the Minister, and after repeatedly being rudely rebuffed by theatre management, including Ms. Katherine Huising.

Minister Klimchuck responded to the publication of the concerns not by finally agreeing to take the time to meet with the group, but by scolding the group for having raised the matter publicly, cancelling Shen Yun performance in Calgary, and further punishing Shen Yun organizers by cancelling the confirmed dates for the Shen Yun performances in Edmonton (which are hosted by a separate organizer, no less). Moreover, the minister went further by misleading the public in interviews about the nature of the concerns and about the communication the group had had with her office—suggesting the group had not tried first to meet personally with her, when in fact we had made numerous requests.

“This is not the conduct of someone fit to lead the Ministry of Culture and Community Spirit, and accordingly we are calling on the premier to intervene in the matter and to work with us to resolve it,” said Jenny Yang, spokesperson for the Falun Dafa association of Calgary.

“Minister Klimchuck’s conduct also makes less convincing her assertion that there is “no linkage whatsoever” between her actions and pressure received from the Chinese consulate in Calgary,” said Yang,  “We were made aware that the minister’s office had received pressure to end our show in Calgary. Since that time the treatment by management towards Shen Yun and our association has rapidly deteriorated. On several occasions, management has encouraged us to cancel our show, and the Minister has now taken that step herself”.

“Minister Klimchuck’s behaviour is not that of someone who genuinely wants to resolve this issue in the interest of the public and all involved. She appears eager to put a stop to a show that even she acknowledges has a great reputation among Albertans,” said Jenny Yang. “Who is Minister Klimchuck pleasing? It doesn’t benefit the Jubilee. And it doesn’t help the image of Alberta as a cultural destination. The thousands of Albertans who enjoy Shen Yun each year can’t’ be pleased either. Probably the only ones pleased to see the show cancelled are representatives of the Chinese consulate in Calgary. Actually this is exactly what the Chinese consulate wants.”

The Chinese Consulate in Calgary has actively sought to interfere with the Shen Yun performances here, and in 2008 Tourism Calgary notably caved into pressure and withdrew its sponsorship.

“We are calling on Premier Allison Redford to show that the Alberta government will not similarly give in to foreign influence and is committed to to resolve this issue in the interest of Albertans and the Province,” said Yang.

Please note the below breakdown of misconceptions communicated by the Culture Minister and her office in recent interviews with the media. 

Fact sheet clarifying misconception about the matter

Misconception:Pressure from the Chinese Consulate in Calgary has played no role in Jubilee’s attitude towards Shen Yun
Fact:Shen Yun’s problems with the Southern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium started in 2010, after  the diplomatic pressure from the People’s Republic of China on the Alberta government to cancel Shen Yun.
In the Calgary Herald, Heather Klimchuk dismissed this notion, saying it had “no linkage whatsoever” to her decision to cancel the performance.
However, it is a fact that the efforts the Calgary Falun Dafa Association or Shen Yun made since 2010 to meet with either the Minister of Culture or Jubilee management about our concerns, both the Minister of Culture and Jubilee management had only one reply: which was to suggest Shen Yun could cancel their shows and seek other venues. This response did not come after discussion or negotiation; it has been the only response put forth by Jubilee management or the Minister of Culture to resolve our concerns. This is a highly abnormal way for a professional organization to treat its clients and it is does raise valid questions about whether they are under outside pressure.
Misconception:Shen Yun is bringing a private issue to the public
Fact:The Jubilee Auditorium is owned and operated by the provincial government. Therefore, the operation of this venue is an issue in public interest.
The Globe and Mail quoted Marie Iwanow, communications director for Alberta’s Culture Ministry as saying, “We do consider this a private matter with a client… So it’s unfortunate maybe that they chose to express their concerns through the news media.”
In fact, we have made numerous requests over the last three years for a meeting to address our concerns, and on every occasion we were rebuffed. Only when the poor treatment by theatre management escalated and we saw no willingness on the part of the government to address these concerns did we bring the matter to the public.
In fact, the Minister of Culture directly oversees the Jubilee Auditorium. It is a government owned and taxpayer-subsidized institution and is therefore accountable to the public. If a client of the Jubilee chooses to raise an issue with Jubilee management to the public, this is an above board action. The idea that we should only communicate our concerns in secret with the provincial government is wrong.
Misconception:The Calgary Falun Dafa Association did not give the Jubilee or the government time to respond to its complaints
Fact:The Calgary Falun Dafa Association has tried to book appointments to meet with the Minister of Culture for three years.
The CBC quoted Heather Klimchuk as saying, “When we have a situation like this it’s really important to resolve this through the channels first.”
In nearly a dozen attempts to meet with the minister of culture over three years, each attempt was ignored or rebuffed. In our view, the ministry of culture has had many opportunities to respond to our complaints.
Misconception:The relationship between Shen Yun and the Jubilee has deteriorated to the point it cannot be resolved.
Fact:The Calgary Falun Dafa Association is asking that the Minister of Culture apologize to Shen Yun, invite them to return, and remove the orchestra pit safety net for future Shen Yun performances. We feel that these are all reasonable requests and if they were met our issues would be resolved.
Furthermore, in Heather Klimchuk’s letter to the Calgary Falun Dafa Association she stated that she felt the relationship between her department and us had deteriorated to the point it could not be resolved. However, since the Minister of Culture has never met or talked with us, we feel it is presumptuous to say that our relationship is unsalvageable. We remain committed to resolving the issues and only hope for the government to step forward on its side and show a willingness to do the same.
Misconception:Shen Yun is asking for apology about a safety net
Fact:Shen Yun has never asked for an apology about the net, only a chance to negotiate its removal given that it is highly obtrusive and unlike any other in the more than 100 theatres Shen Yun has performed.
The Calgary Herald quoted Heather Klimchuk as saying, “I'm not going to apologize for the safety of performers or musicians at either Jube.” Ms. Klimchuck is either demonstrating that she still has not understood our request or she is intentionally misleading the public.
In fact Shen Yun has never asked for an apology about the net, they’ve only asked to negotiate the removal the net. Even the government’s Northern Jubilee theatre has no such net—making the minister’s complete unwillingness to have a reasonable discussion on the matter all the more unusual.
Misconception:Shen Yun is asking for apology about technical errors
Fact:The Calgary Falun Dafa Association is asking that the Jubilee apologize for any disrespectful and unprofessional treatment towards Shen Yun
In response to this request, Heather Klimchuk said in the Calgary Herald that an investigation had been undertaken and that, “we were satisfied that everything is fine.” She went on to say, “I know how hard they work in both Jubilees and I'm very proud of my team.”
The Calgary Falun Dafa Association has highlighted a few examples of technical errors, such as a lighting error, but was not asking for apologies about these specific issues. We asked for an apology because Jubilee management did not take these errors and other transgressions seriously and were rude, dismissive and arrogant when confronted with them.
Misconception:The Jubilee Auditorium has complaints about Shen Yun
Fact:The Metro newspaper reported that Marie Iwanow, spokesperson for the Minister of Culture, said that complaints involving both parties date back to 2010.  However, neither Shen Yun nor our association have been notified of any of the supposed complaints directed toward us. If there were complaints that the Minister deemed relevant, it would seem only reasonable to communicate those to us such that we might address them. We are particularly interested in knowing of any complaints as we are aware of past efforts by the Chinese regime to disrupt Shen Yun shows by complaining to theatres in the name of concerned members of the public.

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