Over the past nine months Gallery TPW has appeared silent. We are sorry for the uncertainty this has caused. We have been reflecting, learning, and growing. We understand change within any established organization to be a necessarily difficult and lengthy process.
We recognize the incredible achievements of those who led Gallery TPW before us and, at the same time, we are changing some of our approaches. We are closely examining the institution’s fissures and finding systemic barriers in order to eradicate them. Since September of last year, the composition of our board has shifted significantly. We have worked to make our active board more diverse and representative of our community. While we know we are not there yet, we have made a conscious effort to see that our board includes the voices of those who understand foremost what the needs of emerging underrepresented artists and curators are today. The current board values reflexivity, responsiveness, and support systems for one another and the communities we serve.
Led by Board Chair Elle Flanders and Interim Executive Director Asad Raza, in collaboration with Bespoke Collective, we had critical conversations with arts administrators, curators, artists, peers, and past board members. Their feedback resulted in our creating a new vision and mandate. Our new mandate and values reflect a commitment to de-centre whiteness within the gallery’s fibral structure, though we recognize that we will fail from time to time. We will continue to address and redress our complicity in upholding the white supremacist ethos of the Toronto arts ecology and hope that our board, staff, and community will hold us accountable.
Most recently, Asad Raza’s term with us has come to a close. We have no doubt he will continue to flourish as an important advocate in our community. We are grateful to him for assisting us in the development of our strategic plan as well as our search for a new executive director. As of June 22, 2020, we are thrilled to announce Noa Bronstein as our new Executive Director. Noa brings a wealth of knowledge, experience, and passion to her role at Gallery TPW. As an accomplished administrator and curator, she has played a pivotal role in creating spaces that serve as sites for critical exchange and support, reflective of the diverse practices of artists today. We are excited to work collaboratively and alongside Noa to push Gallery TPW into the future.
Building on the weight these histories carry, while continuing to challenge exclusionary and hierarchical institutional models, we have pledged to do the following:
1. We will continually assess who we are making our board and staff opportunities available to. We do not wish to be
gatekeepers of the positions and opportunities in our space. Any racialized, queer, trans, or persons with disabilities joining
our team must feel that they are able to bring their whole selves to the space and that their needs are respected and met.
This requires, on the gallery’s part, a nimbleness and willingness to change ways of working that are harmful to our peers.
2. Keeping in line with the above, we are committed to appointing a board chair who is a racialized person by 2021.
3. Gallery TPW recognizes its history as an artist-run centre and the role that ARCs in Canada have played in shaping the kind of work that sits at the cutting edge of contemporary art. However, we take responsibility for the ways in which our gallery perpetuated whiteness and elitism in this regard and our goal is to ensure that minoritized artists and curators can feel that this space is equally theirs, shape it as they see fit, and that we will champion and support their practices.
4. We have been developing a toolkit for ARCs to address their respective histories of systemic inequality. As part of reparation work, we intend on paying the racialized artists and cultural workers whose knowledge is both directly and indirectly guiding this resource.
5. The gallery has immense potential to be a site of civic action and we recognize that supporting our artists means that we must address the systems that oppress racialized artists outside of the arts ecology. We support the Black Lives Matter movement and urge our community to support the call to defund the police. The safety of Black and Indigenous artists must be a priority inside and outside of our walls.
Gallery TPW looks forward to being an active part of this change. We will continue to focus our attention on alternative access models and embedding our work in radical hospitality by collaborating with new and existing partners within and beyond the scope of arts ecologies. As an artist-run centre, we fundamentally believe in advocacy for one another and our community. This is the spirit on which Gallery TPW was built.
Artist-run centres should be self-critical and radical. It is our responsibility to disrupt and divest from a reprehensibly broken system. It is our responsibility to foster meaningful and generative opportunities and mentorship for Black and Indigenous individuals, at all stages of their career, who want to work in and transform arts administration and curation. Alongside Noa, our new executive director, our board will continue to examine the organization, embrace critical feedback, and practice self-correction as we move to hire more staff, resume our programming, and implement our pledges.
- The Board of Directors, Gallery TPW