Stop Sistering’s sudden closure of Inspirations Studio!
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Sistering has closed Inspirations Studio – Toronto’s one-of-a-kind ceramics program for marginalized women. This comes despite Sistering’s previous commitment to continue the program through 2018 while a new partner is found, and in spite of almost $84,000 raised in generous community donations and public funding to sustain the program through to the end of 2018.
With this petition, we are asking for a show of support to persuade Sistering to honour their commitment, and to be accountable to the program members and to donors by honourably bestowing all funds raised for the transition of this program to a new home.
The impact of this closure:
For 24 years, Inspirations Studio has supported hundreds of low-income women impacted by poverty, homelessness, addiction, trauma, and mental health issues. Members rely on the program for stability and community, as well as income. The abrupt decision to close the program was implemented with little notice, no plans for transition or back-up for the affected women, and minimal counsellor support.
The closure has been devastating. As the Members themselves recently wrote in a letter to Sistering’s Board: “We find this decision to be heartless and careless. We are shocked and traumatized by it. … Many of us are trauma and addiction survivors. Inspirations has played a crucial role in our healing … It makes us believe that you don't respect our hearts and minds. You could have informed and prepared us.”
Inspirations was first established in 1994 and taken on as a program of Sistering in 2001. In 2016, the program lost some of its funding. Being unable to supplement the program going forward, Sistering planned to close the Studio at the end of 2017 before Friends of Inspirations Studio organized a campaign to find new sources of funding and a new partner agency. In early 2018, Sistering committed to working with the Friends to help transition the program to a new partner agency; it committed to continue as the program’s sponsor for the rest of 2018, sign a lease, and pay the rent until December 2018 and other expenses. The $84,000 raised for Inspirations was to be held by Sistering for the program.
On May 15th, 2018, two days after a successful and well-attended Spring 2018 Open House – and despite optimism, transition plans in place, and partnership talks underway – Sistering ordered the Members to immediately cease their work and vacate the Studio by June 1st, 2018. The Members and Friends of Inspirations Studio remain shocked and disappointed by this decision, which has not been fully explained.
Since the closure, Friends of Inspirations Studio has attempted good faith discussions with Sistering to get the program back up and running, and to transition the program away from Sistering to a new partner. On the eve of a potential transition to a new partner, Sistering revised the amount of funds they hold for the program from $80,000 on May 18th, to $65,000 on June 18th, to $31,000 on June 21st. Sistering now refuses to pay the rent and other expenses previously committed for the remainder of 2018.
Sistering, be accountable to your donors and members. Please don’t let the good work you otherwise do for at-risk women of Toronto become clouded by your actions on Inspirations Studio. Honour your commitment to Inspirations Studio. Pay the rent and other expenses previously committed, and explain how $80,000 became $31,000 in the course of a month. We all owe it to the Members of Sistering who rely on Inspirations Studio for essential income, a safe space to be creative, and a sense of meaning and purpose.
For more information, please get in touch with:
Friends of Inspirations Studio: email@example.com
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Friends of Inspirations Studio is a community volunteer group dedicated to promoting the work and goals of Inspirations Studio. We are members of Toronto’s arts, financial, academic, and business communities, who believe in the power and necessity of art and skill-building to improve and heal lives.
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