Watching multiple incidents of deadly violence against Black people unfold before our eyes – Ahmaud Arbery, George Floyd, Tony McDade, Breonna Taylor, Regis Korchinski-Paquet – and the protests that have erupted in response, has left us feeling distraught, aghast and angry. Systemic racial discrimination, bias, and prejudice require urgent, substantive action.
The Kitchener-Waterloo Art Gallery stands in solidarity with all people of colour in the fight against racial injustice and inequality. We are dedicated as an institution to addressing our own biases and our history, listening to and learning from our communities and staff. We are not immune to the anti-Black and anti-Indigenous racism and discrimination against people of colour that we see occurring around the world.
The Board and staff at KWAG believe that an art museum like ours has an important role to play in recognising and challenging historic oppression and that our exhibitions, collections, knowledge, independence and ethics can serve to address the issues that matter to our communities. We recognize that the trauma inflicted upon people of colour is generational. As a cultural institution in Canada, we must work to ensure the fight for equality for Black and Indigenous peoples does not wane, but results in sustained action and change. Part of that change comes from disrupting systems of control within our sites and practices so that new approaches can emerge. Through our work with artists we can bring the past and the present into conversation to pave the path to a shared future.
The Gallery’s vision has focused on being an inclusive and participatory art museum at the heart of our community. We are committed to taking meaningful, intentional actions to remove barriers to inclusion:
- We will participate in anti-racism training at all levels of the organization.
- We will continue to develop artistic programming with a diversity of voices and perspectives.
- We will evaluate programs through a lens of inclusivity.
- We will push for change through a critical analysis of our Permanent Collection and proactively change the narrative through the inclusion of work by BIPOC artists, creating room through a deaccessioning process.
- We will review and revise internal policies recognizing our responsibility to do more and do better.
- We will continue to engage in thoughtful collaboration with diverse communities to serve them in a meaningful way.
- We will create space for Black and Indigenous communities to have public conversations on issues such as decolonization, inequality and racism, and commit to financially supporting their participation in these conversations.
- We will support diversity within our organization through proactively hiring and engaging BIPOC citizens on our Board and staff.
- We will monitor and report our progress to our communities.
- We will ensure the Gallery’s next Strategic Plan reflects an anti-racist ethic.
We engage in this process with humility and dedication.