Standing in Solidarity with Black Artists
Since the murder of George Floyd, our company has debated how we will show solidarity with the black community and what efforts a company like ours could take to move forward.
We decided to take an action first approach where we would review what Wallack’s could do to start so that our actions will speak louder than words. Hashtags and tweets were not going to be enough. We instantly started to review our policies to ensure they reflect inclusivity and how we handle store procedures that could affect people of colour while in our store.
Then… we were called out along with all the other major galleries in the city for the under-representation of Black artists in our gallery.
Our privilege has allowed us to take pride in being a community-focused business while inadvertently leaving out whole sections of the arts community.
We are part of a larger legacy in traditional arts education and commercial art sales of prioritizing white/European experiences. By failing to address this, we contribute to systemic oppression and racism.
We regret that it’s taken this long to realize and acknowledge this, but we’re committed to taking real action to move forward. The following are the steps we are taking to make a change:
- Breaking down barriers in arts education by allocating scholarship funds to BIPOC students. So far, we have donated to the BBPA Art Scholarship fund. We will continue to work with the schools that already allocate our scholarship funds to ensure BIPOC students are encouraged to apply.
- Generating economic opportunities for Black artists and the BIPOC community through our own gallery and with professional networks such as ARTpreneur. We are revising how we select and show artists in our gallery to be more inclusive.
- Reviewing our hiring policies and store procedures to ensure our company is accessible and safe to artists of colour.
- Sharing this message to generate awareness for Black artists and encouraging everyone to help make a difference. We are asking customers and partners of Wallack’s to donate money to organizations working towards ending racial oppression.
- Black Lives Matter Canada (blacklivesmatter.ca)
- Black Business and Professional Association Art Scholarship (bbpa.org)
- Black Health Alliance (blackhealthalliance.ca)
- Fondation Michelle Jean (fmjf.ca)
While we may not have all the answers, we know that the process must continue. Wallack’s has always and will always continue to empower artists and we will work hard to make sure that includes everyone, especially those in marginalized communities.