In Canada, there are systems of power that grant privilege and access unequally such that inequity and injustice result, and that must be continuously addressed and changed. Cultural equity is critical to the long-term viability of the arts sector to thrive.
At ArtsPond, we believe we must all hold ourselves accountable through acknowledging and challenging our inequities and work with our community partners to make collective change. Everyone deserves equal access to a full, vibrant creative life, which is essential to a healthy and vibrant society. Through social, cultural, economic, physical, and digital spaces and platforms, artists can challenge inequities and encourage, imagine, and realize positive alternatives.
ArtsPond aims to embody equity in our values, policies, and practices to ensure all people are represented; including, yet not limited to, those who have been historically underrepresented based on age, ancestry, colour, ethnic origin, race, citizenship, creed (religion), disability, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, and socioeconomic status.
We value and prioritize the voices of Indigenous, 2SLGBTQ+, Black, Brown, and other racialized people, people with disabilities, youth, elders, women, New Canadians, official and other language minorities, rural-remote communities, and other equity-seeking groups. We do so with the intention of developing more equitable arts policy, to better empower underserved artists and cultural workers, and to nurture more accessible spaces and the fair distribution of social, physical, economic, cultural, digital, and informational resources.
ArtsPond is rooted in Toronto, the traditional territories of the Huron-Wendat, the Anishnabek Nation, the Haudenosaunee Confederacy and the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation. Tkaronto (Mohawk word meaning “the place in the water where the trees are standing”) is home to many First Nations, Métis, Inuit, and Afro-Indigenous people from across Turtle Island.
With regards to land use, housing, and urban planning, it is vital to acknowledge necessity for non-Indigenous people to recognize and uphold Indigenous sovereignty and Land Back. The arts and culture sector also has an important role to play in reconciliation and decolonization through engagement, practices, compensation, and programs. It will be crucial for non-Indigenous people to avoid the tokenization of Indigenous arts and culture. Instead, the arts and culture industry must prioritize meaningful relationship-building with Indigenous artists and community leaders, to respond to the historical, local, and systemic realities and struggles with the impact of settler colonialism on our cities and communities.
We must continuously reflect on our role to play as settlers on Indigenous land. It is essential to consider how we foster and take care of the land, how we live together, and to help those who are underrepresented and underprivileged due to settler colonialism, capitalism, and white supremacy.
Addressing Anti-Black Racism
At ArtsPond, we believe the arts and culture sector has an important role to champion anti-racist practices led by the Black Lives Matter movement in response to anti-Black racism and police brutality across the world.
As author and placemaker Jay Pitter states in her June 2020 Call to Courage to Canadian urbanists, “urban design is not neutral, it either perpetuates or reduces social inequities”. Current and future arts and culture work must center equity and actively work to minimize and eradicate power imbalances and struggles faced by Black communities in Canada and beyond through equity-based placemaking.
Jay Pitter defines equity-based placemaking as “community knowledge and vision to the forefront of public realm design processes, historically going beyond the urbanism status quo and hierarchy. Equity-based placemaking builds on pluralism and recognizes power relations within communities and the place-based histories of exclusion and socio-spatial dynamics that shape the character of public spaces”.
Artists and arts and culture workers must stand against white supremacy, racism, and police brutality.
Youth-Led Social Change
At ArtsPond, we believe youth play a vital role in both enabling and leading positive social change. We are forever inspired by youth who are actively fighting for healthy, sustainable, equitable human ecosystems in brick and mortar neighbourhoods on-the-ground, and in digital communities in-the-cloud. We dedicate ourselves to empowering the dreams of young Canadian changemakers including artists, creators, designers, producers, entrepreneurs, technologists, thought leaders, urban planners, sustainability practitioners, architects, environmentalists, economists, politicians, researchers, educators, and more. Listen well to our youth and be changed. We are, for the better, every day.