Hold the Art Gallery of Mississauga Accountable
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To: City of Mississauga Culture Division (attn: Paul Demaso, Director, Culture Division)
cc: Ontario Trillium Foundation (attn: Katharine Bambrick, CEO) Ontario Arts Council (attn: Carolyn Vesely, CEO), Canada Council for the Arts (attn: Simon Brault, Director and CEO), Community Foundation of Mississauga (attn: Anne Marie Peirce, President and CEO), RBC Emerging Artists Project
The Art Gallery of Mississauga (AGM) has caused significant harm to individuals and communities.
This harm includes: mistreatment including harassment of BIPOC people, lack of leadership (including bad governance), conflicts of interest, lack of transparency/accountability, and pretending to care about marginalized communities in Mississauga (including BIPOC, 2SLGBTQ+, immigrant and refugee, and more).
They must be held accountable.
It is time for change.
At the Annual General Meeting held on June 30, 2020, the Board of Directors was given an opportunity to reflect on and address concerns. They chose not to do so. This confirms that the change must come from the funders' intervention.
Because of the gravity of the situation and the nature of the harm caused, the AGM must cease operation immediately.
In order to reset, the following must occur:
All staff (no matter how they are funded) must be let go.
1. Precariously employed staff must be offered severance equal to them having worked for 1 year.
2. The Interim Executive Director must resign.
3. The Board of Directors must resign (and memberships must be put on hold).
4. The recruitment of a permanent Executive Director must stop.
5. Funders (City of Mississauga, Ontario Trillium Foundation, Ontario Arts Council, Canada Council for the Arts and any others for project funds) must not release any further funds to the AGM and must recoup funds appropriately.
6. An Advisory Committee must be established, made up of BIPOC community members with deep knowledge of the harm perpetuated and of community needs. As the City of Mississauga is the AGM’s largest funder, it is feasible that the City support the establishment of this Advisory Committee. BIPOC staff within the City of Mississauga’s Culture Division should be responsible for supporting this Advisory Committee – and if there are no BIPOC staff within Culture Division, a consultant (or consultants) should be hired to support this work.
7. The Advisory Committee must undertake a review of the AGM’s practices, including documenting the experiences of BIPOC individuals and communities -making public the harm that has been caused through a comprehensive report. This report is a model for all other arts and culture organizations in the City, who are mostly led by white people.
8. The Advisory Committee will make recommendations for a new organizational structure of the AGM, including governance, priorities and potential BIPOC leaders.
9. The process must be transparent. It should be completed within 1 year, with regular updates to community.
10. A new integrity process must be developed so that staff, artists and community members can report issues occurring at City-funded arts and culture organizations, knowing that there will be action.
This petition and the open letter (www.holdagmccountable.wordpress.com) was sparked by AGM’s former Community Activator who bravely shared what she faced while working at the AGM.
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