AGO For All

AGO LAND ACKNOWLEDGEMENT

The Art Gallery of Ontario operates on land that is Michi Saagig Nishnawbe territory. Toronto is governed by treaty 13 between the Mississauga of the Credit and the Canadian government. It has also been occupied by other Anishinaabe, Haudenosaunee and Wendat confederacies. Since 1701, Toronto is governed by the Dish with One Spoon treaty between the Anishinabeg, the Haudenausonee and allied nations to peaceably share and care for resources around the Great Lakes. Toronto is now home to a large diverse urban Indigenous population and always has been a trading center for First Nations. All people living in Canada are treaty people, including those who came here as settlers – either in this generation or in generations past – those who are arrivants, and those who came here involuntarily, particularly as a result of the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade. As treaty people, we are all a part of a treaty relationship based on the recognition of respect, co-operation, partnership and Indigenous rights.

OUR COMMITMENT TO DIVERSITY, INCLUSION, EQUITY & ACCESSIBILITY

2020 was a year that served as a deep reminder of the work cultural institutions still have to do to become more diverse, equitable and inclusive spaces. We believe everyone should feel safe, welcome, and have access to experience great art and programming that reflects them, their history and the people who live in their community.

We are on a journey of listening, learning, reflecting and taking action to build ongoing approaches to diversity and inclusion at the AGO. We recognize our opportunity to model and act as leaders in the arts and culture community, and moving forward, we commit to:

  • Deepening our efforts towards implementing reconciliation, and dismantling institutional discrimination, racism and oppression in all areas and levels of our organization.
  • Strengthening our efforts towards building greater diversity, inclusion, equity, and accessibility; and in doing so reflecting our values and our vision to lead global conversations from Toronto through extraordinary collections, exhibitions and programs by reflecting the people that live here.
  • Building on our work to create an organizational culture that fosters an environment that is inclusive, diverse, equitable, and accessible to all.
  • Providing platforms for artists through programming and education who are voices of change in our culture and who better reflect the diversity of our community.
  • Improving our record for attracting, hiring, developing, and retaining employees and volunteers who reflect our values and the diversity of the city in which we live.
  • Developing a detailed action plan to achieve our goals and commitments, and sharing quarterly progress updates in an open and transparent way.

 

HIGHLIGHTS OF OUR JOURNEY

We will update this page regularly. And as we continue on our journey to becoming a more inclusive, equitable and accessible place for all, we welcome your ideas and insights. 

Click to view Highlights of our Journey

Fall 2021
  • The AGO is partnering with Cultural Pluralism in the Arts Movement Ontario (CPAMO), a leader in organizational change and equity in the arts, to complete an organizational assessment focused on reviewing our organizational culture, policies, practices and human resource strategies. This assessment will take six-months and will provide a data-driven understanding to develop a detailed action plan for advancing our commitments related to inclusion, diversity, equity, accessibility and anti-racism.
  • In September, we opened Fragments of Epic Memory the first major exhibition from the AGO’s Arts of Global Africa and the Diaspora curatorial department. The exhibition blends historical and contemporary narratives, presenting more than 200 photographs from the AGO's Montgomery Collection of Caribbean Photographs alongside paintings, sculpture, and video works by modern and contemporary Caribbean artists that show how the region’s histories are constantly revisited and reimagined through artistic production over time.
Spring & Summer 2021
  • Launched as part of our summer blockbuster exhibition Andy Warhol, the AGO teamed up with BlindSquare – the world’s most widely used accessible GPS app developed for the blind, deafblind and partially sighted – to present a new wayfinding system to visitors. This special exhibition at the AGO is the first to feature this technology. 
  • The AGO began the process of implementing Descriptive Audio Guides to artworks to help remove barriers to our collections and exhibitions. The Andy Warhol exhibition is the first to feature a described audio tour. The exhibitions of works by Picasso and Robert Houle will also include audio descriptions.
  • The educational programming, exhibitions and growing collection of contemporary Indigenous art continue to centre on Indigenous ways of knowing and creative expression, while also addressing pressing historical and current social issues. In June of this year, the AGO hosted A Continued Conversation on Residential Schoolsa virtual discussion about thoughtfully sharing the history and intergenerational effects of residential schools with children and youth.
  • We continued the roll out of the diversity and inclusion learning programming for all staff and volunteers with facilitated sessions and events on the following topics:
Winter 2021
  • Cian Knights (she/her) was hired in the new role of Manager of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. Knights’s appointment affirms our ongoing commitment to building a community that prioritizes the pillars of diversity and inclusion, both internally and externally at all levels of the museum. Read more about her new appointment here.
  • Our Board of Trustees established a new Diversity & Inclusion Board Committee and started foundational diversity and inclusion training.
  • The AGO hosted a variety of talks and performances featuring leading artists and writers who are voices for change, including Desmond Cole, Rajni Perara, Laakkuluk Williamson Bathory, Syrus Marcus Ware, and Tanya Tagaq.
Fall 2020
  • The AGO established an Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Accessibility learning program to provide training regular and ongoing learning for new and existing employees and volunteers. Sessions have included An Introduction to Diversity & Inclusion, Anti-Racism 101 - Moving from 'Not Racist' to 'Anti-Racist, Anishinaabe Philosophy and Land and Sharing Knowledge – A Conversation with Indigenous Art Educators.
  • The AGO Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Accessibility (IDEA) Group, a voluntary employee-led group formed in 2017 following a talk at the AGO by Dr. Johnnetta Cole, an educator and museum professional; speaker and author on issues of diversity, equity, accessibility, and inclusion; and advocate for social justice. The group was reorganized and developed a new mandate in 2020 to advance more equitable and inclusive policies and practices, recommendations for change and ongoing assessment of diversity and inclusion initiatives. The IDEA Group meets twice monthly to review D&I initiatives and to bring forward items for discussion and action.
  • In October we announced the establishment of a brand new department—Arts of Global Africa and the Diaspora led by curator Dr. Julie Crooks. The Department focuses on acquiring, exhibiting and building programming around historic, modern and contemporary work art from Africa and the African diaspora. The Department recently acquired its first work, Moridja Kitenge Banza’s Christ Pantocrator No 13 (2020).
  • The Friends of Global Africa and the Diaspora (FGAD) committee was established to work collaboratively with the Arts of Global Africa and the Diaspora department, community members, donors, curators and educators to support research and exhibitions that highlight the impact of African art, art histories and migrations, past and present.
  • The AGO introduced free, fully immersive virtual school programs, focused on wellness and art. These programs include Indigenous Art and Artists and Art of the African Diaspora. More than 120,000 students from across the province have attended classes.
  • As part of the AGO’s commitment to provide accessible ways for visitors to experience great art and programming, the Access to Art Resource Hub – a platform for online programs and resources – was created to lower any perceived or physical barriers to AGO collections.  This hub features a partnership with Tangled Art + Disability, Seniors Social Programming and information about our Multisensory Program Research. We also offer art making courses for participants who identify with intellectual disabilities.
2019 - Prior

Work is ongoing to ensure that our Collections, exhibitions and programs reflect our diverse communities:

  • Over the last five years:
    • 79 of the museum’s 189 purchased artworks—or 41 percent of purchased acquisitions—featured artwork by women artists.
    • 59% of the museum’s major exhibitions featured artwork by Black, Indigenous and artists of colour.
  • In 2019, we hired Indigenous Art Educators to deliver the grade 9 NAC10: Expressions of First Nations, Metis and Inuit Cultures, a school program focused on Indigenous art as part of our dedicated partnership with the Toronto District School Board and the Urban Indigenous Education Centre.
  • The introduction of the AGO Annual Pass in May of 2019, and the sweeping admission changes that came with it, including free admission for all visitors age 25 and under, has meant that our audience is more diverse than ever and more accurately reflects the people who live in our community.
  • In 2019 the AGO used the profits from deaccessioned works towards purchasing new acquisitions works by Indigenous artists who have traditionally been underrepresented in art museums.
  • The AGO's weekly art magazine, the AGOinsider, features profiles of artists and programs in the Gallery and increasingly, outside its walls. Read by 250,000 subscribers each week, the magazine continues to evolve, and has put more of an emphasis on stories about issues of social justice, diverse artists, and the social impact of art.
  • In 2018 the AGO reprioritized the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion strategy, making it a major pillar in the organizational strategic plan.
  • In 2017, the AGO replaced its Department of Canadian art with a newly-formed Department of Indigenous & Canadian Art, which is co-led by Wanda Nanibush, Curator of Indigenous Art and Georgiana Uhlyarik, Fredrik S. Eaton Curator of Canadian Art, reflecting a nation-to-nation approach. Visitors to the renovated J.S. McLean Centre for Indigenous + Canadian Art can see contemporary and historical works organized thematically in dialogue, with label text in Anishinaabemowin, English, French, and Inuktitut where relevant.

YOUR VOICE IS IMPORTANT TO US

As we continue on our journey towards creating a more diverse, inclusive, equitable and accessible AGO for our visitors, the community, employees and volunteers, we know how important and valuable it is to hear directly from you. We invite you to share your questions and thoughts with us.

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