To Artscape’s community members, friends and partners:
Uprisings against racial injustices, fuelled by unspeakable and continued acts of violence against Black people, are elevating awareness among leaders of Artscape about the pervasiveness and systemic nature of anti-Black racism.
As Artscape’s leader, I acknowledge that our organization has participated in and helped perpetuate inequitable structures and practices rooted in racism, many of which were entrenched through colonialism. While I like to think of our organization as progressive, Artscape’s actions and inactions have contributed to systemic racism. Artscape’s failure to confront racism in a comprehensive way has caused serious pain and harm to Black, Indigenous and other racialized groups who are members of our team, our communities and society. I am deeply sorry and recognize that saying so is not nearly enough. All of us at Artscape must ask tough questions, listen and take action. Artscape must change.
Artscape is committed to dismantling and replacing oppressive structures and systems within our organization. Artscape has engaged Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) firm, REACT Consultants, to facilitate the process of developing a comprehensive, long-term EDI plan. Their expert team will guide us as we engage in dialogue through an intersectional lens that explores hard truths and asks tough questions about the foundations of our organization, examining: leadership and governance, team and culture, programs and services, resource allocation, facilities and development practices. Preliminary goals for this work include:
- Better reflecting the diversity of our city and community through our boards and teams.
- Building our capacity to prevent, interrupt and stop racism and racial injustices within our team and communities.
- Amplifying and showcasing the work of artists from Black, Indigenous and other racialized groups through our platforms.
- Ensuring more equitable distribution of benefits to artists through Artscape’s programs, services, facilities and tenancy, membership and ownership opportunities.
- Understanding and eliminating barriers to access that exist for racialized, marginalized individuals and equity-seeking groups.
- Improving our systems to identify and stop unconscious bias in our decision-making.
- Advancing the practice of creative placemaking to be more inclusive and take additional measures to ensure our new projects are designed by and for diverse communities.
- Understanding how arts and culture have contributed to systemic racism then developing and implementing strategies that do the opposite.
There are actions we can take immediately. Others can be implemented in a number of months or over a longer term. Our first step will be to begin the process of co-creating the plan with our staff and boards before broadening the conversation to the communities we serve. As our plans and actions take shape, we will regularly report on progress with our team, communities and the public.
The road to racial equity will call for changes and difficult conversations. We will do this in ways that are compassionate, teachable, self-critical, open to change and ready to learn. We will answer this opportunity for change with thoughtfulness, sensitivity, seriousness and a commitment to action.
Tim Jones, CEO