Hold The Delaware Contemporary Accountable
Hold The Delaware Contemporary Accountable
Please sign your name and join us in holding The Delaware Contemporary accountable for its history of racism, sexism, and homophobia.
The Delaware Contemporary recently proclaimed their dedication to fighting against social injustice and racism on their social media platforms. However, this declaration is wholly unsupported by concrete action. The following letter was sent to the Director and Board of The Delaware Contemporary in order to urge the institution to make real change NOW.
Dear Director and Members of The Delaware Contemporary Board,
As former curators, educators, board members, studio artists, and employees of The Delaware Contemporary (TDC) from 2010 to the present, we write to voice our outrage over the censorship and erasure of people of color, queer people, and women under your executive leadership. Specifically, by harassing and undermining staff who sought to feature black and brown artists’ exhibitions and programming, refusing to archive exhibitions and programs featuring artists of color prior to 2017 on TDC’s website, and by actively suppressing such programs openly in Board meetings as well as through ex officio channels, TDC has demonstrated pervasive white supremacy, a system in which racism, sexism, classism, and homophobia all thrive.
Thus, we demand the following:
1) A formal, clearly articulated public statement of concrete action plans to right these wrongs by addressing systemic institutional racism, sexism, and homophobia within the organization; in addition, an acknowledgement of the community TDC is serving and a public action plan to end white supremacy on the Board and among staff. A public action plan should include the hiring of black and brown staff in highest earning leadership positions and an end to token hiring practices. The 2019 Census population estimates that Wilmington is 58.3% African American and 10.2% Latinx, which means a population that is currently at least 68.5% black and brown people. It is imperative that board and staff leadership reflect the racial makeup of the immediate community it serves.
2) The resignation of all board members and those in leadership positions who have enabled TDC’s institutional racism and abusive culture to persist. We want to remind the Board that complicit participation in institutional racism is as damaging as outright discrimination and prejudice. With the intention of holding leadership accountable, we will be opening up a public conversation to allow our fellow art workers to share their experiences with TDC in order to begin their own process of healing.
3) A public apology to former curatorial and education staff and artists, and the denouncement of the racist, sexist Board and executive leadership.
4) The immediate abolition of the annual monetary “contribution” required for Board Director seats: this $5000+ membership fee perpetuates the exclusion of communities of color, and in fact all but the 1%, from having real meaningful impact and voice at TDC.
5) The immediate institution of term limits for studio artists, and the immediate termination of studio artist leases for those who have had a TDC artist studio for over 5 years. As these spaces are there to support, nurture and amplify Delaware's young artist communities, they cannot serve this function when they remain the private back room offices for 1970s founders, who continue to use this part of the institution as if it were their own personal shop front and backdoor channel to the Board of Directors.
6) That TDC addresses our immediate call to publicly archive, acknowledge, and thank the community of artists who exhibited, performed, and helped implement groundbreaking exhibitions prior to 2017. These include: Radical Participation: A Series of Four Interactive Exhibitions (2014-2016) funded by the Andy Warhol Foundation; Wilmington Trap Stars: A Street Art Exhibition(March 22-June 15, 2014); Confirmations, Declarations, Doubts (January 24 -April 24); Carried Weight (March 18 - July 17, 2016); Repositioning Blackness in Contemporary Art Symposium (April 16, 2016); and many others, including those curated by Dr. J. Susan Isaacs as Special Projects Curator.
We call for public acknowledgement of the curatorial labor carried out by people of color, queer people, and women—including curators and educators—whose research and work on the aforementioned exhibitions, as well as dozens of other exhibitions, was erased from TDC website. TDC let these workers, artists, and communities of color down by consciously erasing their contributions from the archives, thus actively censoring their accomplishments and discriminating against them.
It is with great disappointment in the failed leadership of TDC, yet the continual hope for a more just future that we submit this letter for your review. As the country mourns the loss of Rayshard Brooks, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, Ahmed Aubrey, and countless other victims of police brutality, it is in the name of urgent local, national, and international social justice that we ask you to reconsider your complicit silence about TDC’s abusive history, its perpetuation of the disenfranchisement of people of color, queer people, and women in Delaware. Despite the past, we believe the institution can make the right decision to reverse its course of suppressing the achievements of its own community. Thank you for hearing our call to end white supremacy at The Delaware Contemporary.
Maiza Hixson, Artist and Curator, Gretchen Hupfel Curator 2010-2015
Doctoral Scholars Fellow, University of California, Santa Barbara
Jackie Milad, Artist and Curator, Gretchen Hupfel Curator 2015-2016
Katy Scarlett, Educator, Curator, Writer
Curatorial and Education Associate 2015-2017, Education Assistant 2013-2015
Emily Artinian, Artist, Founder and Director, Street Road Artists Space
DCCA Studio Artist 2011-2016, DCCA Board Director 2014-2015