Decision Maker Response

Ontario Arts Council’s response

Aug 19, 2016 — As a public agency, the Ontario Arts Council welcomes feedback on our programs and initiatives. We regularly evaluate our work to ensure that we continue to meet the needs of an evolving and diverse arts sector. The petition, “Remove OAC restrictions on Indigenous and culturally diverse curatorial projects” highlights many important issues and perspectives. However, we would like to take this opportunity to offer some clarity and context on the concerns raised.

OAC recognizes that Indigenous and culturally diverse communities have the right to self-define their forms of artistic expression, and that those diverse forms may not be supported by some institutional curatorial practices and contexts in the visual arts. OAC supports this reality through developing a number of different programs over time that respond to the various and evolving ways that artists and arts professionals pursue their work. All of the activities described in the petition are currently eligible for OAC support, although not all in any one program. We have also created programs and initiatives that respond to specific gaps and inequities in the arts sectors and in the arts funding landscape.

The Culturally Diverse Curatorial Projects and Aboriginal Curatorial Projects programs came about as a result of OAC’s commitment to Indigenous curators and curators of colour, who continue to be underrepresented in Canada’s art galleries and arts institutions. These programs were created to address a particular barrier: the lack of diversity among those making curatorial choices within gallery spaces and visual arts organizations.

One of the primary goals of these two programs was to assist organizations to open up access to their presenting spaces to support and include the viewpoints of independent Indigenous curators and curators of colour. We value and recognize community engagement and residency as curatorial initiatives and we certainly do not wish to prevent Indigenous or culturally-diverse curators from pursuing their projects.

It is impossible for one program to address all needs of all grant applicants. However, we strive to ensure our programs do meet the needs of those they are intended to support. We continue to evaluate all of our programs and look at ways to streamline more effectively to achieve the goals of our strategic plan, which was developed in consultation with Ontario’s arts communities. (See more here: http://www.arts.on.ca/page525.aspx)

We will take this and all ongoing feedback into consideration as we examine both our programs and how we as an organization are keeping pace with the changing needs of Ontario artists and arts workers.

Sincerely,

Carolyn Vesely
Director of Granting
Ontario Arts Council