An Open Letter from Stephan Jost, Director, and CEO

Over the past week, there has been an intense discussion in the cultural community about freedom of political thought, artistic expression, and the importance of good governance. These are indeed very important issues, as together they shape our cultural narrative and our views of history. The AGO is also aware that there are several letters and social media posts in circulation speculating about internal conversations at the Gallery related to this debate.

I hear you. I am taking this seriously and I know there will need to be a rebuilding of trust. I recognize there is much work to be done with open, honest, and brave conversations.

Staff and the Board are taking these issues very seriously to figure out a path forward. The AGO is an art museum dedicated to art, learning and serving our public. The events of the last several weeks have shaken us individually and institutionally. We are taking the time to deeply review and reflect on our commitments to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Report so we can continue our efforts.

The AGO remains fundamentally and fully committed to showing, acquiring and programming Indigenous art, voices, and stories. Our support of Indigenous artists remains strong, and respectfully, we do not take this for granted. We understand that these relationships will take work to re-establish and can only go ahead collaboratively. We are also fully committed to reflecting the diverse communities in Toronto through our mission, our collections, and our exhibitions and programs.

More broadly, the AGO, along with many other cultural institutions, is being asked to better define the rights and limits of political and artistic expression in a locally diverse but globally complex environment. We will go through a process to listen, to understand multiple perspectives, and then together we will articulate our institutional position. This process has started internally, and we will also hear from the many stakeholders of the AGO, and, in addition, we will review some of our governance policies through a thoughtful and inclusive process. These efforts are happening now and will continue over the next number of months.

This journey will take time but it is foundational for our collective future. I appreciate your patience.

Stephan Jost, Director, and CEO

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