Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Plan

A Note from the Executive Artistic Director:

In May 2020 we put forward a statement of solidarity with the BIPOC community with a promise that we will do more. We promised to hold ourselves accountable and change racist practices that were embedded in our organization. Diversity, Equity and Inclusion became one of the 5 main pillars of our strategic plan (2018-2021) and we have been working diligently to make real change in our organization. At that time we released our Diversity, Equity and Inclusion plan to our website for transparency and accountability. Below is the latest update as of February 2022 that outlines what we have accomplished as part of Workman Arts’ Strategic Plan 2018-2021. Please note that we will be developing a new DEI plan that coincides with our new strategic plan to be released in spring 2022 and will update the website accordingly.

Our commitment to change began two years ago when we held some roundtable sessions to learn from our communities as we built our strategic plan. At that time, the community rightly identified that while we had a few BIPOC members, we were a majority white staff and board. Diversity, Equity and Inclusion became one of the 5 main pillars of our strategic plan and accordingly, we have been working to make real change within our organization. The commitment outlined below is a beginning and we will keep you informed as we continue to address inequities in our organization and we welcome your input and feedback to these commitments.

Our Commitment

1. Training Leaders

Ensure that leaders (board, staff, instructors, peer supports and volunteers) at Workman Arts are culturally competent and committed to actively working in anti-racist principles.

What has been done:

Implemented mandatory Anti-Oppression/Anti Colonialist training for all staff including instructors.

    • Staff Participation in Cultural Pluralism in the Arts – a 2 year Pluralism and Organizational Change intensive program (CPAMO POC program)
    • Monthly staff conversations on topics of deconstructing white supremacy within our organization
    • Implemented evaluation tools to measure new skills, knowledge and attitudes related to anti-oppression.
    • Implemented Anti-Oppression training for board.

2. Fostering Inclusive Spaces

Create experiences where people at all levels of interaction with the organization can bring their full selves to the space and programs.

What has been done:

  • New member artists on-boarded in 2021 include 50% from the BIPOC community.
  • Through surveys and interviews, barriers to participation have been identified by BIPOC member artists.
  • Workplace Conflict Resolution Policy created that includes conflicts and complaints related to race-based discrimination and microaggressions.
  • Intersectional culturally specific programming is being offered to members.

3. Investing in Relationships

Ensure that BIPOC initiatives and collaborations aren’t tokenistic and that relationships are valued, funded and strengthened over time.

What has been done:  

  • Developed partnerships with Hong Fook, Neighbourhood Arts Network, Native Women in the Arts, BIPOC Film and Television, Black Women in Film and Neighbourhood Food Club.
  • With BIPOC member artist/producer, developed and funded an annual programming for Black Mental Health Day called a Room of Black Artists (AROBA).
  • Partnered with organizations for greater presentation opportunities including Long Winter, MOCA and AGO.
  • Developed the Workman Arts Satellite Program at 6 locations throughout the GTA by partnering with local arts service organizations in under-served neighbourhoods.

4. Fostering Meaningful Representation

Ensure that all levels of the organization, such as board, staff, instructors and members, include BIPOC individuals whose voices are centred and who hold power and decision-making capacity.

  • What has been done:  
    • Most recent core staff hirings were from BIPOC community to reach 50% BIPOC representation of core staff.
    • Most recent board nominations have been from BIPOC community to reach 42% BIPOC representation.
    • 60% of contract staff are from the BIPOC community.
    • 50% of instructors and peer supports are from the BIPOC community.
    • Created a paid Workman Arts Diversity Equity and Inclusion Advisory group made up of Workman Arts members. Their recommendations will be added to the new strategic plan (2022-2025).

5. Offering Intersectional Public Programming

Ensure that all public programming is intersectional and showcases a variety of BIPOC artists while engaging in meaningful and relevant outreach initiatives.

What has been done:

  • BIPOC Curators are hired for the new Being Scene Curator position.
  • Multi-year financial and administrative support for the Black Mental Health Day symposium A Room for Black Artists created by BIPOC Producer/member.
  • 50% of Rendezvous with Madness and Being Scene selection committees are comprised of BIPOC members.
  • 50% Rendezvous with Madness Festival programming include BIPOC led films, live performance and visual/media art.
  • #BigFeels Symposium included a minimum of 50% representation from the BIPOC community.

Things we will carry forward into the next strategic plan:

  • Ensure that the organizational barriers identified by BIPOC members are meaningfully addressed.
  • Include multi-lingual classes as part of the Art Training Program.
  • BIPOC representation on the WA Board of Directors reaches 50%.
  • Renewed push to reach BIPOC representation goals set for Rendezvous with Madness and the Being Scene Exhibition.
  • Implement recommendations from the Workman Arts Diversity Equity and Inclusion Advisory group.