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Aug. 10, 2020

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Magenta Theater founder Jaynie Roberts resigns

Artist director leaves nonprofit after social media exchanges

By , Columbian Arts & Features Reporter
Published:

Jaynie Roberts, the founder and artistic director of Magenta Theater company, has resigned, the Vancouver nonprofit’s board of directors announced Tuesday.

In an email to The Columbian, Roberts said she made the mistake of getting defensive and speaking out on social media when her daughter was accused of racism for posting a meme called “9 Facts About Slavery They Don’t Want You to Know.”

“History is something hopefully we all learn from. What on earth is racist about posting historical facts,” Roberts responded.

Roberts later wrote on Magenta’s Facebook page that she was mistaken in thinking that the meme was factual. Online fact-checker snopes.com deemed it “misleading.”

The exchange touched off a flood of posts on social media sites accusing Roberts of racism, homophobia and bullying. Responding posts say Magenta is warm, welcoming and inclusive of people of color and LGBTQ communities.

“My heart may be broken, but it is not contaminated with the hatred I have been accused of,” Roberts said in the email to The Columbian.

According to Magenta’s statement, the board of directors “is looking at our own failings and blind spots, and we are taking action. … We embrace the responsibility of contributing to systemic change.” The board will undergo diversity and sensitivity training.

Roberts launched Magenta Theater in 2002 as a hobby project.

The DIY, nonprofit theater has grown into Vancouver’s premiere theatrical company, staging comedies, dramas and musicals. The troupe moved in 2016 to a 150-seat auditorium on Main Street, although the theater has been dark since the COVID-19 pandemic interrupted Magenta’s current season.


Erin Middlewood contributed to this report.

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