Silence—its board, its staff, and its artistic directors—stands vehemently against white supremacy, anti-Black racism, and systemic violence against marginalized and racialized communities.
We acknowledge the ways in which we, as a collective of individuals and as an organization embedded in a community where these structures are active, are complicit in the pervasive and insidious ways that these concepts infiltrate and are built into the society in which we live. While we have consistently tried to embody an ethics of anti-oppression at Silence—through our programming, our community outreach, and the values we seek to represent in the space—there are ways in which we have failed and certainly many avenues that we can take to improve.
Silence stands in solidarity with the millions of activists and organizers across the world who are fighting for the liberation of Black and Indigenous people and non-Black people of colour and an end to police brutality. We know that racism exists in this world, in this country, and in our communities and it is our responsibility to not only speak out against it and interfere with its manifestations, but also to proactively work toward its elimination.
We are long overdue for a comprehensive commitment to anti-racist organizational change. We are ready to turn inward and dismantle and/or reform the policies and practices (or lack thereof) within our organization that have contributed to disproportionate access, representation, and support of Black, Indigenous, and other racialized members of our community. This process must include artists, musicians, patrons, volunteers, and staff members.
We know statements without direct action are worthless. While we cannot yet speak to all the specifics of what these endeavours will entail, this is where we will begin:
- We will implement mandatory annual anti-oppression training for all volunteers, board, and staff members.
- We will improve hiring and management policies to address the disparity of access to jobs in the nonprofit sector.
- We will implement new terms of reference for our programming committees that outline, in measurable terms, a commitment to diverse representation.
- We will intentionally leverage our resources (our space, our event support, our volunteers, our board, and more) to meaningfully support queer and trans Black, Indigenous, and racialized organizers and artists in order to increase culturally relevant programming in the City of Guelph.
- We will continue to implement our pay-what-you-can model to make artistic and cultural programming accessible, while looking for ways to increase accessibility.
- We will actively reduce systemic exploitation within our organization to ensure that those involved (staff, board, volunteers, committees) are respected, recognized, and compensated.
- We will actively pursue the re-ignition of the Guelph anti-racist Memorandum of Understanding (2016) to facilitate community organizational collaboration and recommitment to these values.
We understand that this is an ongoing process and that these commitments are not short-term. We are committed to reviewing our success and shortfalls publically in six months’ time. We will be accountable to our community. A comprehensive plan of action outlining these commitments and more will be made available on our website.
With these actions as a starting point, we say loudly and unconditionally:
Black lives matter.
Black music matters.
Black art matters.
Black futures matter.