May 19 — Sustaining Collectives and Emerging Organizations in the Arts

As part of an ongo­ing series of dis­cus­sions respond­ing to the needs of arts groups in the COVID-19 cri­sis the Media Arts Net­work of Ontario part­nered with Crit­i­cal Dis­tance Cen­tre for Cura­tors to host con­ver­sa­tions with emerg­ing arts orga­ni­za­tions and col­lec­tives. This open let­ter pro­pos­es a pro­gram to address one of the core issues iden­ti­fied in the meet­ings, sup­port for the labour of cul­tur­al work­ers in these groups.

Show your sup­port by sign­ing here and by send­ing your own let­ter to the recip­i­ents iden­ti­fied using this sam­ple.

This let­ter and sig­na­to­ries will be pub­lished online and for­ward­ed to the addressees.

Read the com­plete let­ter below or here: MANO Let­ter Emerg­ing Needs May 19 2020 (1).


Media Arts Net­work Ontario
1137 Dupont Street
Toron­to, ON, M6H-2A3
(647) 951‑4810 

Simon Brault
Direc­tor and Chief Exec­u­tive Officer
Cana­da Coun­cil for the Arts
150 Elgin St
P.O. Box 1047
Ottawa, ON Canada
K1P 5V8

Car­olyn Vesely
Chief Exec­u­tive Officer
Ontario Arts Council
121 Bloor Street East, 7th Floor
Toron­to, ON  M4W 3M5

May 19, 2020

Dear Simon Brault and Car­olyn Vesely,

In the wake of pan­dem­ic shut­downs, long-stand­ing social inequities have become more vis­i­ble than ever, includ­ing those in the arts sec­tor. While emer­gency mea­sures rolled out to date have helped to sta­bi­lize some arts and cul­ture insti­tu­tions, high bar­ri­ers to eli­gi­bil­i­ty for emerg­ing and unin­cor­po­rat­ed arts orga­ni­za­tions have result­ed in many groups being left behind. Over the past months the Media Arts Net­work of Ontario has orga­nized a wide range of com­mu­ni­ty dis­cus­sions, includ­ing a series focused on the needs of small and emerg­ing groups in the visu­al and media arts with Crit­i­cal Dis­tance Cen­tre for Cura­tors. From these con­sul­ta­tions we have iden­ti­fied a sig­nif­i­cant need in the com­mu­ni­ty and a pos­si­ble rem­e­dy. This ini­tial let­ter will be fol­lowed by an open let­ter with addi­tion­al signatories.

Emerg­ing orga­ni­za­tions often speak to needs unmet by exist­ing insti­tu­tions, play­ing a vital role in advanc­ing strug­gles for equi­ty, rep­re­sen­ta­tion, and acces­si­bil­i­ty in the arts. These orga­ni­za­tions rep­re­sent the future of the arts sec­tor, and as iden­ti­fied strate­gic pri­or­i­ties of pub­lic sec­tor art fun­ders, must not only sur­vive but be sup­port­ed to thrive beyond this and oth­er crises.

The expec­ta­tion of sig­nif­i­cant unpaid and under­paid labour from arts work­ers is built into the cur­rent project-based fund­ing mod­el for emerg­ing and unin­cor­po­rat­ed arts orga­ni­za­tions. Rely­ing on project grants, they receive sup­port to com­pen­sate artists for their labour at indus­try stan­dard rates, but are not sup­port­ed to ade­quate­ly com­pen­sate their own staff, whose skills com­prise the essen­tial labour of care nec­es­sary for the suc­cess of any program.

As arts fund­ing agen­cies con­tin­ue to devel­op respon­sive strate­gies to sup­port our sec­tor, we request the Cana­da Coun­cil for the Arts and the Ontario Arts Coun­cil to rec­og­nize the neces­si­ty and val­ue of small and emerg­ing groups and to tai­lor sup­port for their oper­a­tions in the fol­low­ing ways:

  • Pro­vide sup­port for a min­i­mum of one part-time posi­tion, pro­vid­ing a fair wage and real­is­tic scope of work (grant amounts of $15,000 — $40,000/year)
  • Pro­vide sup­port for a min­i­mum of 12 months per appli­ca­tion, with options for mul­ti year support
  • Empha­size groups led-by and serv­ing equi­ty-seek­ing groups as iden­ti­fied by funders
  • Not sup­port artis­tic pro­gram­ming for the pub­lic, audi­ence and mar­ket devel­op­ment, or oth­er activ­i­ties sup­port­ed through exist­ing programs
  • Not sup­port con­sul­tant fees
  • Be peer adju­di­cat­ed with scor­ing matri­ces made avail­able publicly
  • Be open to appli­cants who have received one or more project grants from their agency
  • Not count against appli­ca­tion lim­its for project grants

Time is of the essence, and so we fur­ther rec­om­mend that:

  • Fed­er­al and provin­cial arts fun­ders con­vene no lat­er than June 30, 2020 to begin devel­op­ing  shared stan­dards for fair wages for cul­tur­al work­ers and to coor­di­nate pro­gram launches
  • Rep­re­sen­ta­tive groups impact­ed by this dis­cus­sion be invit­ed to attend as observers
  • Appli­ca­tion dead­lines be made avail­able by Fall 2020 fol­lowed by a full roll-out in 2021 with a min­i­mum of two deadlines
  • Annu­al oppor­tu­ni­ties for com­mu­ni­ty feed­back be pro­vid­ed after first round of applications

It is our belief that such a sus­tain­ing pro­gram is the miss­ing piece in the cur­rent fund­ing land­scape for emerg­ing and unin­cor­po­rat­ed arts orga­ni­za­tions. Fun­ders can do much more to learn about how these groups engage and impact their respec­tive com­mu­ni­ties, and to pro­vide the con­crete sup­port need­ed to con­tin­ue their work at lev­els that reflect the true cost and val­ue of the labour that facil­i­tates deep­er con­nec­tions between artists, orga­ni­za­tions, and audi­ences. A vibrant and resilient arts sec­tor is one that sup­ports its orga­ni­za­tions and work­ers at all lev­els of their devel­op­ment, not just those who are already established.

Ben Donoghue
Media Arts Net­work of Ontario


Car­olyn War­ren, Direc­tor Gen­er­al, Arts Grant­i­ng Pro­grams Cana­da Coun­cil for the Arts
Kel­ly Lang­gard, Direc­tor of Grant­i­ng Ontario Arts Council


Sig­na­to­ries to June 16, 2020

Shani K Par­sons, Direc­tor, Crit­i­cal Dis­tance Cen­tre for Curators
Abe­dar Kam­gari, Pro­gram­ming Direc­tor, Hamil­ton Artists Inc.
Adam Stur­geon, Artist/Community Work­er, REZONANCE
Adi Berar­di­ni, Edi­tor, Femme Art Review
Adri­ana Rossel­li Lon­doño, Gen­er­al Man­ag­er, Guelph Dance
Adri­enne Cross­man, Board Co-Chair, Hamil­ton Artists Inc.
Aimée Mitchell, the8fest
Ais­linn Thomas, Artist
Alana Traf­i­cante, Exec­u­tive Direc­tor, Gallery 44 Cen­tre for Con­tem­po­rary Photography
Ale­jan­dro Tamayo, Board Mem­ber, Trea­sur­er, Hamil­ton Artists Inc.
Alexan­der Ron­deau, Inde­pen­dent Cura­tor // Artist, Minor Hock­ey Curatorial
Alex­ia Bréard-Ander­son, Direc­tor, Xpace Cul­tur­al Centre
Allie Har­vey, Pro­gram Man­ag­er, ArtReach
Ananya Ohri, Arts worker .
Andrew James Pater­son, inde­pen­dent media artist
Anyse Ducharme, Artis­tic Pro­gram­mer, SAW Video Media Art Center
April Beat­son, Pho­tog­ra­ph­er, 401 Richmond
Bar­bara Gilbert, Direc­trice artis­tique et générale, Le Labo
Bec­ca Berri, Founder & Edi­tor-in-Chief, Cold Straw­ber­ries Col­lec­tive (CSC)
Bri­an Mee­han, Exec­u­tive Direc­tor, Muse­um London
charles c. smith, Exec­u­tive Direc­tor, Cul­tur­al Plu­ral­ism in the Arts Move­ment Ontario (CPAMO)
Char­lotte Zhang
Chris­tine Negus, Pro­gram­mer, Lon­don Ontario Media Arts Association
Claire M. Tal­lari­co, Founder, Co Facil­i­ta­tor, Alche­my Artists Residency
Clive Robert­son, Media artist and pub­lish­er, W.O.R.K.S., Voic­e­spon­dence, FUSE
Crys­tal Mowry
Dan­i­ca Ever­ing, Pro­gram­ming Com­mit­tee Chair Board of Direc­tors, Hamil­ton Artists’ Inc.
Dar­ren Rigo, Head of Mem­ber­ship, Gallery 44
David Marskell, CEO, The Museum
Dean­na Wong, Exec­u­tive Direc­tor, Toron­to Reel Asian Inter­na­tion­al Film Festival
Denise Ryn­er, Director/Curator, Or Gallery
Derek Jenk­ins, MFA Stu­dent, Ryer­son University
Emi­ly Cook, Direc­tor, Paper­house Studio
Emi­ly McK­ib­bon, Asso­ciate Director/Senior Cura­tor, MacLaren Art Centre
Estée Klar, The A Collective
Flo­ra Shum, Direc­tor, Paper­house Stu­dio and Paper­house Out­reach Collective
Fran­cis­co-Fer­nan­do Grana­dos, Artist/collective member/Assistant Pro­fes­sor, 7a*11d/OCAD U
Gol­boo Amani, Col­lec­tive mem­ber, Toron­to per­for­mance art collective
Greg Wood­bury, Oper­a­tions Man­ag­er, Charles Street Video
Ingrid Jones, Cre­ative Direc­tor, Seednine
Isabel­la Ste­fanes­cu, Artis­tic Direc­tor, Inter Arts Matrix
Jaclyn Quares­ma, ED + Cura­tor, Durham Art Gallery
Jacque­lyn Hébert, Com­mu­ni­ty and Pro­gram Man­ag­er, (CCIMAD-CCDIAM)
Jan Swinburne
Jas­mine Man­der, Com­mu­ni­ca­tions and Out­reach Coor­di­na­tor, Hamil­ton Artists Inc.
Jason Samil­s­ki, Man­ag­ing Direc­tor, CARFAC Ontario
Jaymie Lath­em, Exec­u­tive Direc­tor, Cre­ative Indus­tries North Bay Inc.
Jen­nie Robin­son Faber, Exec­u­tive Direc­tor, Dames Mak­ing Games
Joey Dean, Toad­stool Illustrates
Jonathan Bunce, Artis­tic Direc­tor, Wave­length Music Arts Projects
Julie Dring, Exec­u­tive Direc­tor, Hamil­ton Artists Inc.
Julie Tuck­er, Direc­tor, Arts Coun­cil Wind­sor &Region
Justin Wad­dell, Asso­ciate Pro­fes­sor, School of Visu­al Art, Alber­ta Uni­ver­si­ty of the Arts (AUArts)
Kais Padamshi, OCAD Stu­dent Union
Karin Fish, Artist
Katie Doyle
Katie Wil­helm, Direc­tor, Steve Tra­cy Gallery
Kim Kitchen Artist, Member
Lau­ra St Amant, Visu­al Artist, NDN Bowl­ing League
Lau­ra Taler, Artist
Leila Fate­mi, Cura­tor of Edu­ca­tion & Com­mu­ni­ty Out­reach, Gallery 44 Cen­tre for Con­tem­po­rary Photography
Leila Tim­mins, Cura­tor and Man­ag­er, Exhi­bi­tions and Col­lec­tions, The Robert McLaugh­lin Gallery
Lil­ia Leon
Lora North­way, Def­i­nite­ly Supe­ri­or Art Gallery
Luke Maddaford, LEFT Contemporary
Madi Piller, PIX FILM Collective
Mae­gen Black, Direc­tor, Cana­di­an Crafts Federation
Mali­ni Guha, Car­leton University
Mari­na Fathal­la, Artist, MICE Mag­a­zine (Mov­ing, Image, Cul­ture, Etc)
Marsya Maha­rani, Gendai Gallery
Matthew Kyba, Cura­tor, Visu­al Arts Cen­tre of Clarington
Mau­reen Da Sil­va, Stu­dio Man­ag­er and Artist, The inPrint Collective
Michael Maranda
Min­nar Xie, Artery
Mirae Lee, Project 40 Collective
Mitchell Ellam, Exec­u­tive Direc­tor, White Water Gallery
Mon­i­ca Joy Peeff, Artist, Good Sport Col­lec­tive & Gallery
Noor Alé, Assis­tant Cura­tor, MacLaren Art Centre
Nuzhat Abbas, founder-pub­lish­er, t r a c e press
Oliv­er Pauk, Founder, Co-Direc­tor, Akin
Olivia Sny­der, Artist
Paulette Phillips, artists & educator
Pet­ri­na Ng, Co-Founder, Durable Good
Phyl­lis Novak, Artis­tic Direc­tor, SKETCH Work­ing Arts
Piper Hayes, Piper & Carson
Rachel Wel­don, Direc­tor, Debaser
Rita Cama­cho, Artist
Robert Van­der­hey­den, Cit­i­zen of Hamilton
Rober­ta Buiani, Artis­tic Direc­tor, ArtSci Salon
Ruth Skin­ner, Edna Press
Sal­ly McKay
Sameer Farooq, Artist
Samuel La France, Exec­u­tive Direc­tor, Images Festival
Scott Miller Berry, co-coor­di­na­tor, re:assemblage collective
Sed­i­na Fiati, Inde­pen­dent Per­former, Cre­ator & Pro­duc­er for Stage & Screen, Switch Collectiv
Shan­non Linde, Cura­tor, Aisle 4
Shan­non Tay­lor-Jones, Direc­tor, Res­i­dent Artist, Good Sport
Sharon Gold­hawk, Co-Founder & Coor­di­na­tor, One World Arts/ One World Film Festival
Sharona Plaki­das, Artist, Sharona Plaki­das Organics
Sheila McMath, Artis­tic Asso­ciate, Inter Arts Matrix
Shirley Debassige, Executive/Artistic Direc­tor, Ween­gushk Film Institute
Simon M. Bene­dict, Free­lance Artist & Translator
Sinara Rozo, Direc­tor, alu­Cine Latin Film+Media Arts Festival
Skyler Dug­gan, Mar­ket­ing & Pro­mo­tion Vox Pop­u­lar, LIP Productions
Stea­cy Eas­t­on, Artist/Writer
Stephanie Vegh
Su-Ying Lee, Inde­pen­dent curator
Tanya Read
There­sa Slater, Oper­a­tions and Devel­op­ment Man­ag­er, Plea­sure Dome
Ting Xu, Crit­i­cal Dis­tance Cen­ter for Curators
Vanes­sa Cros­bie Ram­say, Media Artist & Arts-Edu­ca­tor, HAVN mem­ber, co-founder of the DAV(e) Collective
Whit­ney Bren­nan, Co-direc­tor, Arts Assembly
Zoë Heyn-Jones, Co-founder, F4A (Film for Artists) collective