Statement of Solidarity EDI Framework

Statement of Solidarity & Equity, Diversity & Inclusion (EDI) Framework

Open Studio is at a critical point in its history. We are working to become a more equitable, diverse and inclusive organization, which is accountable for the racist structures and practices that have shaped us. This change has not happened quickly enough. Open Studio cannot build a positive future without facing the barriers that restrict access to our space, historically and now.

Open Studio was founded on ideals of community and openness, but often our policies have created obstacles to participation. Our membership requirements, exhibition choices, outreach efforts, and approach to education have had the effect of excluding artists from marginalized groups. Meanwhile, members of our community have experienced discrimination and racism. We celebrated our 50-year history without acknowledging or addressing these failures. We apologize that our actions and inactions have reinforced systemic inequities within the arts.

We know an apology alone is insufficient. We will listen, continuously reflect, and act on structural changes to become a more equitable space. We will prioritize anti-racism, equity, accessibility, and diversity moving forward.

Open Studio is implementing new programming initiatives and increasing access to our organization and its resources. We are working to re-orient our programming towards diverse voices and socially conscious practices through residencies, subsidized education opportunities, and more. We are undergoing a thorough examination of our institutional structure at Membership, Staff and Board levels, including mandates for diversity in hiring and Board recruitment. Open Studio is undertaking these shifts thanks to the artists who have come forward to critique and advise us. We are grateful to our External Advisory Panel and to our artist members for their guidance.

Diversity is crucial for our organization to thrive. We have begun the necessary work of creating and implementing a viable, action-based framework as outlined below, but we have only started. These goals will require sustained work and resources over time. Open Studio is committed to this work. We will continue to update the framework on this page as we move forward. We welcome your input and feedback. If you have any questions, please contact us by email.

Governance & Development

  • Allocate finances to support ongoing equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI) efforts, including but not limited to facilitation and training, education, programming and outreach.
  • Provide EDI training for all Board, Committees, and Staff and examine ways to include membership training as well.
  • Include EDI discussions on the agenda at all Board, Committee and Staff meetings and create a Standing EDI Committee to advise on, coordinate and assist in implementing equity-deserving initiatives.
  • Review, identify and update all hiring and recruitment policies. Prioritize EDI in recruitment to Board, Committees and Staff, and increase Board representation to include at least 50% of its members who self-identify as members of equity-deserving communities.
  • Seek funding (grants, sponsorships etc.) specifically for initiatives that support programming and services for equity-deserving communities. Additionally, list external funding opportunities (grants and calls for collaborations) that further fund access for individuals from equity-deserving communities.

Communications

  • Promote opportunities for equity-deserving communities, and utilize accessible language and representational images wherever possible in all communications, including but not limited to: website, social media channels, printed material, in-person signage etc.
  • Prioritize responsiveness and transparency to requests for information and/or expressions of concern.

Membership & Studio Access

  • Offer all 2021-22 BIPOC residency applicants one year free membership; ten individuals will also be offered a free education class. 
  • Update signage relating to physical studio access to reflect open access and solidarity with equity-deserving groups via visual cues – separate from written communications (e.g., redo studio door using graphic design that includes/shows solidarity with 2SLGBTQ+, BLM and other groups via a single unifying symbol or multiple (TBD).

Artistic Programming (Exhibitions, Residencies Etc.)

  • Articulate a curatorial vision and exhibition mandate that orients programming decisions towards equity, diversity, and inclusion. Develop a jurying rubric that reflects this vision and mandate.
  • Program all scholarships, residencies, visiting artist programs, and exhibitions as follows:
    • 2023/2024: 100% representation by artists who identify as Black, Indigenous, or People of Colour (BIPOC)
    • 2024/2025: 100% representation by artists from equity-deserving communities
    • 2025/2026: Minimum 2/3 majority representation by artists from equity-deserving communities
    • 2026/2027 and beyond: Minimum 50% representation by artists from equity-deserving communities
  • Build meaningful relationships with organizations that serve equity-deserving communities. Create inclusive outreach and organize programming that supports the work of our community partners.
  • Hire guest curators from equity-deserving communities to aid in developing exhibitions and programs. 
  • Increase the visibility of BIPOC curators, artists, and educators on Open Studio’s social media channels and website. Create paid opportunities to feature artist work that reflects print practice outside Euro-centric traditions.

Education Services

  • Prioritize equity and inclusion in hiring education instructors. Create a call for new instructors that reflects this priority, and outreach proactively to diverse communities when recruiting. Provide increased support for instructors’ art practices and professional opportunities. 
  • Create mentorship opportunities for individuals who are interested in training their print skills to become education instructors and collaborative printers at Open Studio. 
  • Introduce a drop-in Community Print Night to our education schedule that emphasizes skill-sharing, where no print experience is necessary to participate. Implement an affordable, flexible or by-donation fee structure.
  • Develop online education programming to increase access to printmaking, independently of Open Studio’s downtown Toronto location.
  • Launch a speaker series featuring diverse artists with socially conscious print practices.

February 2021 Update
In the winter of 2020-21, we inaugurated an Equity & Inclusion Committee involving an Advisory Panel of external arts practitioners from priority groups, to gain observations and insight towards making our organization more open and inclusive. We are also working with our membership to further guide us in enacting real change. We expect to release an action framework soon.

June 2020 Update
In June 2020, Open Studio paused much of its outreach and communication 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 broader 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.