December 8, 2021
BIPOC Fellowship Launches with support from Ontario’s Lieutenant Governor, Toronto’s Deputy Mayor . . . and Monet!
The public launch of the BIPOC Fellowship took place at the immersive ‘Beyond Monet’ exhibition, bathing all 150 participants in a purple glow.
In her opening remarks, the Hon. Elizabeth Dowdeswell, Lieutenant Governor of Ontario and Honourary Patron of the Initiative, proclaimed “Tonight we are speaking of diversity and inclusion — a new era has begun for the Gallery, Library and Museum sector in Canada. The impact of the BIPOC fellowship will be felt for generations to come.”
The BIPOC Fellowship was developed by Gail Lord, President of Lord Cultural Resources, and Karen Carter, Co-founder of Black Artists’ Network in Dialogue. The vision is to present new leadership opportunities for Black, Indigenous, and People of Colour who are professionals in the Canadian arts and culture sectors. Canada is one of the most culturally diverse countries in the world, yet systemic racism means that few cultural institutions reflect that diversity. As a result, Canadians today and potential future generations, are not experiencing the creative potential that Black, Indigenous, and People of Colour could bring to arts organizations.
“What is truly ground breaking about this initiative,” Her Honour continued “is that it is so much more than ensuring BIPOC individuals are recruited to leadership positions and have opportunities to learn and grow through mentorship and support. The host institutions will experience cultural change, moving beyond awareness and marketing to really embracing policies and practices that breathe life into fully functioning inclusive institutions.”
Deputy Mayor, Michael Thompson, who is Chair of Toronto's Economic and Community Development Committee, emphasized that “Toronto cannot have economic recovery from the Pandemic without the recovery of the cultural sector; and the cultural sector cannot thrive without inclusive leadership of Black, Indigenous and People of Color.” Thompson presented a cheque for $25,000 to the Fellowship stating emphatically that “We in Toronto seek and will achieve a successful economic recovery with justice for all.”
Jeffrey Latimer, producer of ‘Beyond Monet’, presented a cheque for $60,000 to the Foundation. “As a country, as a city, we have an amazing opportunity,” said Latimer “We all have that ability, as entrepreneurs, as producers, as people, to do something. And as a country we could do more. So when Robert Foster Chair of Business/Arts told me about the BIPOC Fellowship - I immediately said Yes.”
The Fellowship has launched with the participation of seven pilot projects: the Royal Ontario Museum, Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto Public Library, City of Toronto Museums, The Power Plant Contemporary Art Gallery (Toronto), MacKenzie Art Gallery (Regina), and Contemporary Calgary. Each is committed to providing a permanent leadership position and participating in a supportive cultural change process that the Fellowship will facilitate to enhance success.
The event was opened and concluded by the Haudenosaunee ‘Thanksgiving Address’ honouring the People, the Earth Mother, the Waters, The Fish, and the Plants presented on video by Tehahenteh Frank Miller. Foundation Advisor Janis Monture made the address available for this special occasion and Tim Johnson, Advisor, explained its significance. Frank, Janice and Tim are from the Six Nations Community.
"Our vision is to a seed a legacy for institutional change in the arts and culture sector across Canada,” said BIPOC Fellowship co-founder Karen Carter.
Gail Lord added, “Tonight we are launching a pilot project because the BIPOC Foundation is a start-up and it’s important to continually evaluate what is happening. On the other hand, this is such a simple idea – it just might work. ”