In June 2020 Open Studio paused much of its outreach and communication in order to give space to conversations surrounding injustices toward Canada’s Black and Indigenous communities.
We took time to discuss and reflect on the ways Open Studio has inadvertently propped up systemic barriers that prevented Black artists, Indigenous artists and artists of colour (BIPOC) from accessing our studio and exhibition spaces.
Our initial solidarity statement expressed that “Open Studio was built on openness and as a safe creation space for all,” but we realize that this has not always been the case in practice.
We question why after 50 years of existence, the membership of Open Studio remains so homogenous yet exists in the centre of Canada’s most diverse city. In the past two years physical improvements have been made to ‘open up’ the studio but we recognize that our institution has not done enough to actively make space for BIPOC artists.
We seek sustainable solutions and a long-term vision for how to manifest a more inclusive future. An advisory committee will be struck composed of artist members and members of the larger Toronto arts community, including Black and Indigenous artists, in order to explore ways Open Studio can lessen racial and financial impediments and provide wider access to our space and resources. We foresee new programming initiatives, new education scholarships, and potential changes at the staff and Board levels.
We look forward to building a more open and welcoming studio that will truly serve as a safe creation and exhibition space for the whole artistic community.