In a general sense, the term “gatekeeper” refers to someone with the power to allow an individual or group to do or obtain something. That same “gatekeeper” also holds the ability to restrict an individual or group from doing or obtaining something. In theatre, a gatekeeper may refer to someone in a position of power like the artistic director or board of a company who has the critical role of selecting a season and the people who participate in it. Historically, white theatres and institutions have held the majority of the money and power in the mainstream theatre industry in Canada, making them the gatekeepers. White institutions have historically used their power as the industry’s gatekeepers to deny opportunities to IBPOC theatremakers by influencing casting decisions, programming plays only by white playwrights, and refusing to address the racism that IBPOC artists face within the industry. For more, please see Burrow and Marsh, “The Artist and the Activist.”

Sources and Further Reading:

Burrow, Jonathan and Kate Marsh. “Gatekeepers: Imagining Non-Traditional Leadership in the Arts.” The Theatre Times, 10 Oct. 2017,

Saxberg, Lynn. “Duck the Gatekeepers: Black Theatre in Ottawa Requires Blazing Your Own Path.” Ottawa Citizen, 13 July 2020,

Robinson, Jamie and Zoe Marin, editors. “The Artist and the Activist.” Canadian Theatre Review, vol. 193, Winter 2023, In Publication.