In this very first edition of AT THE MIC, we bring you a conversation on meaningful approaches to putting DEI practices into action with guest Wendy Vincent and moderator Erika Beatty.
Wendy is a Toronto based PR and Media Relations expert with a specialization in equity based strategic communications delivery. As a seasoned professional with specialties in media relations, communications and events planning, Wendy’s expertise spans the creative industries, as well as politics. Wendy’s delivery of equity and anti-Black racism work is informed by mindfulness and her lived experience as a Black woman.
In the cultural sector, Wendy has led PR campaigns for clients such as Afrofest, Nia Centre for the Arts, ACTRA Toronto, Planet in Focus Film Festival, among others. Past employers include The Royal Ontario Museum (ROM), Harbourfront Centre, and Toronto Caribbean Carnival.
Halifax-based, Erika Beatty is known for strategic integration of new ideas and technology, creating collaborative partnerships and teams that excel, and developing organizations with good governance, sound strategy and sustainable finances. Following a 20-year career as chief executive of Canadian symphony orchestras she shifted to supporting content creation and the creative film industry.
Support for At The Mic:
We acknowledge the support of the Canada Council for the Arts.
Prepared by Wendy Vincent and Erika Beatty
For racialized, underrepresented people this is triggering, exhausting work, particularly for Black and Indigenous folk, given our recent news cycles. Mainstream society is accustomed to occupying the centre and needs to start to do their fair share of the work. This is not about ‘outreach’ this is about lifting up and re-centring arts and cultural organizations and how they look. As a sector, how can we value knowledge keepers (culture keepers) equally to donors (wealth keepers)? As organizations, how do we authentically and holistically embed equity work in our strategic plans and our budgets, to give those with equity expertise capacity to make systemic changes in the arts?
- As a consultant: Be humble, don’t be a gatekeeper, share access transparently, look harder / go farther to deepen your pool of contacts, build trust with experts who don’t know you. Respect their seniority – again, be humble. Learn about white fragility, how to truly listen and unlearn, how to respond when your blind spots or biases are called out. Part of the authentic work is being intentional and empathetic toward eschewing easy traps that cause further harm (tokenism, virtue signalling, being a ‘white saviour’ etc.). Understand the risk to the sector of not making sincere and long-term investments in DEI.
- For potential clients: Be aware of the trap of credentialism when hiring, lift yourself and your organizations up (don’t put the burden on racialized and diversity communities to do this work for you). Listen, be prepared to hear hard things, and be willing to unlearn other things. Representation is a requirement throughout your organization and its entry points: volunteer boards, executive leadership, arts and arts workers. Ensure DEI work is lead and championed by those who walk the talk – centre this work in your strategy, provide for it in your budget, and give it the respect of time and focus.
- For ACCA as an organization: Seek out and recruit members who are experts in this field, invite speakers, engage organizations, create partnerships, establish generational access to underrepresented groups. When ignorance, bigotry or harm happens, say something. Prepare and release visible and accessible statements of equity solidarity (professionally produced by DEI experts), consider signing “pledges”, but do so with accountability; do the research to confirm that the pledge is authentic, and ask questions, or be prepared to answer questions if it is not. Make visible the harm/barriers that exist in this sector, and the work that is being done to re-centre and lift ourselves up.
- Konvo Media
- The Arts Firm Inc.
- Planet in Focus Film Festival
- Afro Fest
- Toronto Caribbean Carnival / Caribana Toronto
- Black Like Me, past, present and future: Behind the Stratford Festival Curtain
- Ndo-Mshkawgaabwimi – We all are standing strong
- “White Fragility”
- Dr. Afua Cooper
- Hamlin Grange
- Nadia Bello
- Camille Dundas
- Indigenous Screen Office
- Black Screen Office
- ADVANCE: Canada’s Black music business collective
- Breaking Down Racial Barriers (BDRB)