Statement from the new interim Open Space board of directors
On Saturday, March 10, 2018, at the Indigenized/Racialized Communities and the Arts in Victoria forum, members of IBPOC Victoria, alongside members of other creative communities that are committed to the future of Open Space, announced that they would step forward as the organization’s new transitional board of directors in order to address the current crisis situation. The incoming group has taken over management of the organization at this critical time. The outgoing board stepped down to allow our succession, appointing us as the interim governing body before doing so. They share our desire to do what is necessary to stabilize Open Space. The crisis at Open Space jeopardized it’s programming, funding and standing in the community and we are taking the necessary steps to get the organization back on track.
The IBPOC Victoria forum was conceived in response to France Trépanier’s resignation letter, publicly circulated on February 21, and the “Call to Boycott Open Space Arts Society’s Call for ‘Curator of Exhibitions’” released by the Aboriginal Curatorial Collective on February 25, and was organized in the wake of local and national demands for there to be a constructive solution to the organization’s increasingly precarious situation. Ongoing pressure came in the form of staff resignations, artists and curators withdrawing exhibitions, and the University of Victoria Writing Department suspending its “Open Word” partnership with Open Space in support of the ACC boycott.
Addressing the significant concerns outlined in France’s resignation letter and the conditions of the ACC boycott letter will demand all of our experience and expertise, but we are confident that we will rise to the challenge given our shared abilities in community engagement, arts administration, and organizational governance. We will prioritize an apology ceremony for France. We will undertake an equity audit. We will undertake anti-oppression/cultural agility training and will invite other members of the Open Space community to access this training. We will review the role of the executive director. We already meet the diversity condition outlined in the ACC letter, and will work to make the Open Space board of directors an inclusive space that will continue to inspire participation from the Indigenous, Black an POC communities moving forward. And once we meet these requirements and the ACC boycott is lifted, we will hire an Indigenous Curator.
Open Space was founded as a visionary centre for interdisciplinary artistic practices and creative experimentation. Its approach to programming, both philosophically and practically, established it as a site that was ready, before many others, to engage meaningfully with Indigenous art, artists, curators and communities. The plan that we are proposing will focus on strengthening Open Space’s long-standing commitment to interdisciplinarity, inclusivity, community engagement, and critical conversation, and will restore the organization to its role as a leader in respectfully continuing the engagement of Indigenous artistic presence as central to its mandate.
We recognize that there are people from many communities who support Open Space and the significant role it has come to play in the arts ecosystem. We are a transitional board that is committed to seeing the organization through this crisis, and we encourage you to become a member of Open Space so that you can participate in the election of the organization’s new board at the next Annual General Meeting, We intend to respectfully engage all of the organization’s supporters while maintaining its place at the forefront of working respectfully with Indigenous artists, curators, communities and protocols.
Chair, Interim Board of Directors
Attachment to the PDF verison of this letter.
Open Space respectfully acknowledges that we are on unceded First Nations territory. The City of Victoria and the surrounding areas lie on the territories of the Lekwungen and Coast Salish peoples, including the Esquimalt, Songhees, and W̱SÁNEĆ First Nations.
Open Space is not wheelchair accessible and is accessed by a flight of 15 stairs. There are two gender inclusive washrooms, one multi-stall and one single stall with a urinal.