In a statement, Surjik said he made the decision last week, adding that change is needed at the theatre and that it must start at the top.
“My rationale has only been reinforced with each passing day since then,” Surjik said.
“Change is needed at Persephone, and for that change to have real meaning, it has to begin at the highest leadership level of the theatre.”
Surjik, who has been with Persephone for nearly 13 years, said the organization has much work to do to support, respect and amplify Indigenous artists, Black artists and artists of colour.
“As the artistic leader, I am responsible for these shortcomings. Now, given the urgency of this moment in our society, it’s clear that the best thing I can do to help Persephone move forward is to step aside and make room,” he said.
“I welcome the coming change, but I am not the right person to make it happen. I am doing my own work and self-assessment and look forward to seeing how Persephone will evolve.”
The move comes amid online controversy.
Last week, Persephone posted a black square on its Facebook page, meant to show solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement. But that sparked a backlash, with critics accusing the theatre of a lack of diversity.
The post was then deleted — which caused more backlash.
“The post that was deleted was done so in error. We had meant to replace the image, not silence the comments,” read a post on the theatre’s Facebook page.
“Nevertheless, that egregious error resulted in pain and harm was done.”
The board says it is looking forward to amplifying diverse voices in Saskatoon.
“We accept his resignation and are looking forward to Persephone’s next generation, which will include lifting up the voices and perspectives of Indigenous artists, Black artists and artists of colour in our community,” said Nikki Hipkin, chair of Persephone’s board.
Surjik’s last day is June 22.