The Way Forward - Community Forum Report
Open Space held the fourth in a series of important community events, a Community Forum, last Sunday, May 27. Previous events included an Indigenous, Black and People of Colour forum on March 10, a Community Forum on April 8 and a Healing Ceremony and Feast on April 9. This final forum set out to gather a diverse group of Open Space members and supporters within a structured space to allow open dialogue about the recent challenges at Open Space. Approximately forty people sat in a rectangle, “longhouse style”, to partake in conversation on recent board decisions, the online environment, Open Space’s funding commitments and plans to move forward. Facilitator, Lisa Wilcox, invited the audience to participate in a transformational dialogue, to consider what we could accomplish together and to seek clarity on the events and decisions that led to the formation of an interim board. The environment of the Community Forum allowed for conflict to arise and be addressed; a space for all attendees to voice concerns in a safe and respectful environment.
The acting Board of Directors responded directly to questions and various members of the community often spoke up in support, contributing their knowledge of non-profit governance, arts funding and reconciliation work. Although uncomfortable and fractious, at times, the atmosphere gradually shifted to be more conciliatory. By the end of the meeting those in attendance seemed satisfied with the board’s responses and plans to move forward.
In the final forty-five minutes together, several of those in attendance articulated their connection to and vision for Open Space. It is a space that has helped many find their cultural identity and place in the community, a place for creativity, learning and challenge. The conflicts over the past months have been part of that challenge, part of the uncomfortable work of reconciliation that allows us to see ourselves and our community in new ways. It is the work for which an experimental art centre is uniquely suited.
With the forum behind us the acting Board is moving forward with plans to get the organization back on track. Today, June 1, we are delighted to welcome both our new Acting Aboriginal Curator, Lindsay Delaronde and new Acting Executive Director, Raj Sen to the Open Space team. Lindsay is well known as the current Indigenous Artist in Residence for the City of Victoria and brings with her a wealth of experience and deep connections to Victoria’s creative Indigenous communities. Raj has recently returned to Victoria after spending the last five years working in the international contemporary art world, most recently as Director of the Singapore branch of Sundaram Tagore Gallery. He has worked as a project manager for exhibitions at the Bangkok Arts & Culture Centre and the Ayala Museum in Manila, and in 2015 helped realize a successful Collateral Event at the 56th Venice Biennale.
We are also pleased to announce that the Aboriginal Curatorial Collective has lifted its boycott of Open Space’s call for a “Curator of Exhibitions” and we have posted a call for the permanent Aboriginal Curator position, to be filled by October 2018.
The acting Board would like to thank those leaders in the arts from across the country that voiced their support during this challenging time and the arts community of Victoria for their passion and concern for Open Space. Although working through the conflicts of the past months has been difficult it has brought us to a place where we are stronger together.
If you have any further questions regarding the community forum or the acting Board’s plans please reach out to us directly and/or check in with people who attended the forum. Notes from the forum will be available for Open Space members shortly on request.
We look forward to sharing our continuing progress with you at the Annual General Meeting on August 11 at 2pm.