Neighbourhood Arts Network's Equity & Inclusion Resources

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(Liz Forsberg) #1

In our ongoing #CulturalEquity series on the Knowledge Centre I am sharing some great resources developed by the Neighbourhood Arts Network (NAN) a few years ago. The NAN is likely a familiar organization to folks in Toronto but for those across the rest of the province, it is an organization that was formed to support community-engaged artists and arts organizations in neighbourhoods across the city back in 2010. It was seeded by the Toronto Arts Foundation and Art Starts (the org I worked at for many years!) with a grant from OTF and has gone on to partner with several other leading community-engaged arts organizations in the work they undertake.Their network has grown to over 1700 hundred members including artists, arts organizations, cultural workers and community agencies working throughout Toronto. From the get-go they have been concerned with supporting equity in the arts.

In 2011 NAN undertook The Arts and Equity Project, a research and educational initiative, with support from Manifesto. They wanted to develop a better understanding of some of the challenges faced by arts and community groups, community-engaged artists, cultural workers, and community based social service workers in relation to equity and professional development, and the kinds of strategies they use to address it. Interviews & consultations led to exploratory workshops to examine community arts, equity and engagement in a collaborative way. And from that they created the Arts and Equity Toolkit.

"The toolkit includes three primary components: a reflective section that examines issues and provides a set of principles for working towards community arts equity; examples of equity in practice that zoom in on the work of a variety of local practitioners in relation to 6 priority issues; and a set of practical resources connected to
each of the six priority issues. The toolkit aims both to provide a means of support to those who are working to build more inclusive and equitable communities and to act as a starting point for future dialogue about equity in the field." (p. 5)

NAN has since built on this resource by synthesizing some of the key principles of the Arts & Equity Toolkit into an Arts Equity Video Series featuring 5 short videos and accompanying worksheets to help people apply an arts & equity lens to their work and creative practice.

Principle #1, Flexibility & Adaptability

Principle #2, Reflexivity & Relationships

Principle #3, Relevance & Representation

Principle #4, Embeddedness

Principle #5, Sustainability

If you or your organization has used any of these resources in your work, we’d love to hear from you. How have they helped you to advance greater equity in your work and/or creative practice? Please share with us in the comments below!