Following the shock of America’s political debacle, there is an undeniable divide in the nation’s social fabric that sparked racist, sexist, xenophobic backlash around the country and the whole world feels it. Our neighbour is in a state of social crisis, and for us Canadians, we have always learned to stay strong in spite of our differences, and continue to be more tolerant towards immigrants, minorities, complexities in freedom of expression and beliefs. Our commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion is a powerful approach to making Canada and the world a better and safer place. Equity and Diversity are our country’s strength and Canada has advanced culturally, politically and economically because of it.
However, diversity in Canada’s arts ecology still needs to improve. Little has changed in the status of diverse artists since the 1960’s and we need more collaborative programs that focus on increasing equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI) throughout Canada's art scene.
According to Canadian Art Foundation, Joyce Zemans’ quantitative data that looked into the demographics of exhibitions at Canadian public institutions since 2013 looking for the gender breakdown and racial distribution, found that 56% of artists are white male, 33% are white female, while there’s only 8% of non-white males and 3% non-white females. Its underwhelming, head-scratching results makes you re-evaluate how far we have actually accomplished diversity in this country. This demographic does not even include the lack of queer representation and artists with disabilities in public art institutions. That being said, acknowledging inequity in Canada’s professional arts industries is the first step to cultivating inclusivity in the Arts.
In Calgary, CCEDA (Calgary Congress for Equity and Diversity in the Arts) has discovered that it is uniquely positioned to advance a needed, national arts equity strategy. It is the only arts service organization in Canada that is run by diverse artists that acquires a great deal of expertise in both equity and diversity in the arts.
This year, CCEDA partners up with Calgary Arts Development (CADA), to develop a suite of reporting, measurement and assessment tools along with EDI training and mentorship, to assist Calgary’s arts sector with their own equity and diversity strategies in an initiative called “In/Pact”.
CCEDA and CADA are both committed to increasing equity, diversity and inclusion in professional arts industries through In/Pact, which involves conducting research, sharing tools and providing training opportunities that stimulates discussions about the value of EDI in the arts. It’s value is what strengthen’s Canadian culture, which is why Canada is one of the safest countries to live in especially in a time of political polarization that divides society not just in America but in different parts of the world. Instead of dragging ourselves back into a mythic past, we must acknowledge each other’s differences and strive for a more diversified and equitable future.
For many Calgarians, Calgary Arts Development has helped several local artists, groups and businesses by providing and connecting them with their resources. Resources such as space, residencies, funding, and classifieds that links artists to opportunities such as open calls, job opportunities, volunteering, educational opportunities and workshops. They also run a variety of programs and initiatives that elevate artists from local to international platforms, championing diverse Calgarian artists.
This partnership will only further not just Calgary’s Art scene, but would influence other parts of Canada, into normalizing a diversified and equitable professional arts industry as part of our Canadian Identity.