What does it mean to be an ally working towards greater equity?

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(Liz Forsberg) #1

When we started this series exploring the resources and thinking our sector has done around equity, diversity and inclusion I shared a piece of research by Michael Maranda published in Canadian Art that looked at diversity in Canada’s galleries (A Study on Diversity in Canada’s Galleries). It was the only piece of research I could find that explicitly looked at diversity in Canada’s arts ecosystem. Some of the key findings were that gallery management is whiter than Canadian artists & the Canadian public (lagging behind even 1996 general population demographics), visible minority and Indigenous gallery admin staff are severely under-represented, and while women dominate Canada’s art field, they do not dominate its top echelons. Based on my own observations in Ontario’s arts ecosystem, we would find similar statistics in other disciplines as well.

It’s clear that a big piece of working towards greater equity in our sector involves those of us benefiting from white privilege learning how to become strong allies to our racialized and Indigenous colleagues who are under-represented in the arts ecosystem and, in particular, in positions of leadership. So where to begin?

The Neighbourhood Arts Network wrote a great blog on allyship & equity and it’s a good starting place to begin to understand the roles and responsibilities of being an effective ally. Perhaps most importantly, it makes it clear that allyship is a continual process of learning and unlearning the ways in which we continue to perpetuate systems of power and privilege. Read it here.

If you like to learn in a workshop format, I would highly recommend attending bCurrent’s Allyship, Anti-oppression and Meaningful Inclusion Workshop. The next one is taking place at the Daniel’s Spectrum in Toronto on January 30, 2019. To learn more or to sign up for it visit here.

Do you have other resources you have turned to learn how to by an effective ally in working towards greater equity? Share them here!