This panel examines what cultural organisations have done to move their work online. Panelists from a range of disciplines share what they have been doing, and share their successes and failures, and hard-learned best practices, and how they are connecting to the industry.
With a focus on the artistic process of transitioning work into online spaces and creating new work under such unusual circumstances, how can we take this opportunity to learn from each other and integrate it into our development plans for the future?
Gaëtane has been the Director of The Power Plant Contemporary Art Gallery since 2012. Previously, she was Executive Director and Chief Curator of the Musée d’art de Joliette (2006–12).
You can learn more about Gaëtane on our Speakers Page.
Dr. Nagam (Metis/German/Syrian) is a Canada Research Chair in Indigenous Arts, Collaboration and Digital Media and is an Associate Professor in the department of Art History at the University of Winnipeg. She is the inaugural Artistic Director for 2020/21 for Nuit Blanche Toronto.
You can learn more about Dr. Nagam on our Speakers Page.
Devyani is a Canadian writer and curator with a deep interest in relevant, multidisciplinary, programming at the intersection between art, ideas and social change. She is the Director of Public Programming at the AGO.
You can learn more about Devyani on our Speakers Page.
>> Keeps beating. Now we're ready for ournext panel discussion called adaptability finding value online. I want to remindyou that we have our official hashtag and you're more than welcome to use it onany social platform that you wish.
So our speakers for today are Jennifer gardendirect for centre business innovation.
Then Gaetane Verna who has been the director ofthe Power Plant art gallery since 2012 and the president of the board ofdirectors of the Toronto Arts Council. She holds an international diploma inconservation and administration and received a BA and master's degree in arthistory and has years of experience in catalouges and organizing andpresentpresenting exhibitions.
Dr. Julie Nagan -- Nagam and is an associateprofessor in the department of art history and the university of Winnipeg.
She's the inaugural artistic direct for 2020 and2021 for Nuit Blanche Toronto, the largest public exhibition in North America.Dev Jani --
Devyani Saltzman. She's the director of publicprogramming at the AGO and working across all disciplines and was previouslythe director of literary arts at at [not audible] centre. The first woman andthe first woman of colour in that role as well as founding creator at Luminado,the largest multiarts festival.
Guys, take it away.
>> JENNIFER: Hello. Hi.
>> JENNIFER: Hello, everyone.
Welcome. Very honoured and very excited to behere with this extremely esteemed group of women leaders in the arts,multidisciplinary leaders.
Today our panel is talking about value onlineand adaptability.
So today we've been putting different things online,and we're watching what happens and seeing how we adapt to them.
For example we had a comedy performance. Howdoes the comedienne perform when they can't read the audience? These are someof the questions and pieces we move through. How do musicians perform whenthere are other things going on. How do we do community-building activitieswhen we can't touch each other and come close to each other. We're looking at anumber of different pieces on best practices to share here today. As we movedonline, let's have a little bit of a talk about what has been working and whathas not? Has it been digital business as usual? Or did you find you had a wholenew strategy that you had to put in place? Also I just want us to keep in mindthe question of value and who determines that.
Who determines what has value as we move throughthese processes?
Who determines what is seen?
How it is seen? And who has access toparticipating in that or viewing that as well? So younger folks have a sort ofinherent equal value they place as digital natives between their online livesand real lives.
For people of a nondigitally native backgroundtends to have a more of a value placement on their in real life. So these aresome of the shifts we're dealing with now, because everybody has moved into thedigital space in a much more fulsome manner in that way. So I'm going to keepthe questions really simple. We only have four of them. If the audience has anyquestions, go ahead and jump in and we are looking forward to answering thoseas well. So for the first question, as we moved online, what was easy? Everyone'slaughing here. Right? Was it any of it easy? That may indeed be the answer.Gaetane, we'll start with you.
>> First of all, thank you very much forinviting me to participate, and I'm so happy to be joined with, you know, twoof my favourite people across the country. So it's so nice to see you from ourdifferent homes for now. So what was easy and what has worked? I am alwaysincredibly -- not surprised, but incredibleincredibly flabbergasted by theability of at least my team and the art world, visual art world to send theseswitch gear in the manner -- I think maybe we were stunned for a day or two andthen suddenly so much information was thrusted into the building. I think as asector, we're so in touch with the necessity to be bridges to our audience andto be the ones that carry the work of artists to different audiences, that Ithink everybody, you know, suddenly and rapidly but not suddenly -- rapidlydecided to take the task at hand and to push forward. And I would say that forme, one example was that just before COVID, we were supposed to -- thelockdown, we were supposed to hold an event on March 21. And we spent hoursdiscussing whether we should do it live or not live. And this was before theshutdown. And for us, it just seemed like this was not the right way ofengaging in a symposium. Now, thanks to -- because of COVID, we flipped rightaround, and everyone and humans are very adaptable, and everybody adapted tothis new situation. And I think that in a sense, there's good and bad. The goodis that we're so -- we adapted so well.
But then I would say, maybe the negative ismaybe there's an overpopulation of content being put out there, and the lastone I want to make is last Saturday, we held the first of the four parts ofwhat would have been a 1-day symposium. We decided it on four Saturdays. And Iwas amazed we had 70 people, and people from really truly all over the world.New Zealand, Malaysia, Pakistan, you know, Canada, the U.S., Switzerland, etc.,etc. So looking at that, I totally feel that we've learned something about ourcapacity to reach audiences outside of our usual, you know, community.
>> JENNIFER: Thank you. I'll pass thefloor to you, Devyani.
>> It's quite life. r. Our spring summerseason had large-scale performances for 400 people and talks and all of thatwork, which had taken months had to be put on hold. Within about probably twoweeks or so, we adapted to creating online channels and now we have five aweek. We have four talks and an AGO home stage. We migrated very quickly, and Iwas super impressed by the team a ability to do that and start programming andalso just the reach increase. We're limited by being a 400 seater and walkurecourt from 250 to 500 people watching a performance. Last Friday, Nicholassteer, we showed a performance in response to being femme noir on AGO homestage online and 6,000 people over 24 hours watched that performance. So it'sbeen amazing to see the increase in numbers and engagement, and also thefluidity with which we moved into what is in a sense online content creation.
>> JENNIFER: Did you find you were makingnew strategies or were you able to shift some of that content straight overonline?
>> I think initially, and I thinkinitially and in full honesty, it was transferring existing content online interms of my portfolio which is talks and performances. We also had new thingsdevelop. On our learning side under the director of learning, maker, our wholegallery school was closed. We started online maker videos and maker Wednesdays.So it was a combination of new initiatives and migrating existing initiatives.In term of overall strategy of engagement, the idea was to feel very alive allthe time. If you look at AGO from home, there's weekly content that'sannounced. So I think it's been a process of discovery as we go, and just adesire to create a relevant online congregation. Excuse me.
Talking too much.
>> JENNIFER: No. Thank you.
That's fantastic. Julie, what have youexperienced? What has been easy in migrating this process? Did you need a newstrategy, or has it been a straight transfer?
>> I think I would say a few things.
One, I would say, of course, thank you to youfor having us and the feeling is mutual with these powerhouses I get to sharethe screen with. I would say it's been interesting in terms of for me as adigital media artist and somebody who works in media, and particularly, a lotof online stuff. I think that my critique would be it's amazing to watchinstitutions that are actually doing this new shift, but there has been a totaldisconnect in a long period of time for lots of institutions like we know thatthe digital strategies of the canyon council was grossly underapplied for. Doyou know what I mean? So this round is not going to be a problem.
We'll probably have too many applications. But Ithink that it's exciting just to build on what Gaetane and Devyani are saying.The reach you have is so different. That's the exciting part, and becausepeople are all of a sudden in lockdown, and you know, forced to be at home.They're craving and they want to be to be engaged in some kind of capacity. Atthe same time, I would say there's a screen fatigue or screen exhaustion,whatever, however you want to describe it. But the exciting part is just what they'resaying in term of the kind of global reach you can get, and the fact that we'reactually recording, archiving and popping that stuff up so people can see afteris really amazing which most institutions weren't doing or would do some stuffor people would forget and get distracted because they were busy going toactual events. The hardest thing for me is I'm not going to be able to pivotthat well for something like Nuit Blanche.
It's public art in public spaces and over amillion people. I can't imagine what that's going to be or feel likedifferently for people if we can't gather in public space. When I think aboutthe importance of public space, as much as I like the pivot in term of theonline stuff and it's true, both Power Plant and AGO, fantastic jobs and I'mnot surprised they had teams that responded like that.
That's great. For me right now, I'm in Manitobaso I've been able to stay connected to what is happening in Toronto and placesacross the world that I wouldn't have been able to otherwise. We've done coolstuff like book launches and live talks and what we're doing right now.
That's been a lot of fun, and it's been great toengage people in a new format. Granted it's a square box and you're stuck inyour little thing, but it's still better than not.
>> JENNIFER: Fantastic. Thank you. So ournext question, which you just tipped off a little bit there is what was hard orjust not possible to do with the new parameters?
Devyani, did you want to start?
>> Yeah, as I'm thinking about it. Thereality it's a different experience to be in a collective public space togetherand the sense of social isolation even if we're engaging online, you might beconnecting virtually is different from being in the space and feelingconnected. I think the hardest thing has been losing that, and also I'll bevery honest, capacity, like producing online content it's challenging and allthe physical setups, etc. We're on a three and a half day work week with fiveprograms a week.
It is a constant production cycle for ourmarketing team, our web team, our programming team. And I think we think thedigital space may be easier and more fluid, but the work with artists and thework of setting up talks and the background prep. We're becoming newsources/cultural spaces in a very short period of time. So I think justadapting and adjusting our energy and capacity has been difficult, and also thethings you can't quite do in the virtual space in terms of how you experiencedance or how you experience live music or being in front of a painting andhearing a gallery guide speak to it. So those have been the challenges.
>> I want to go back to what Devyani issaying. You can't read the audience. You make the joke about a comedienne. Wehad hundreds of people that have been doing all these talks and it's been supergreat. But after, I feel really confused, like you can't read the audience. Youdon't know if it was any good. You can see in the chats, if people really like,oh, that was great. Yeah yeah. You see the little hand raises up in the littleemojis or whatever they are. That makes you feel good. I think that it'sbetter, you know, to know that. But you can't all of a sudden switch whereyou're going, because you can't read the audience of what you think thatthey're getting out of the talk. So you know, there's different layers to theknowledge and the things that you want to bring to the table, and a lot oftimes, that's a back and forth and a reciprocal relationship which is entirely lostonline. It is really difficult.
>> JENNIFER: Yeah. There's different typesof access and fluidity that are happening but there's also these barriers andas you say, you're in a box and in a bubble, and it's a bit like where's thecontext here and how are we relating? I think there's been a lot of very steeplearning curves for a lot of folks in a lot of ways. Right?
Gaetane, do you have any thoughts on what wasdifficult or impossible to deliver?
>> I think that for me, the relationshipto artwork -- any strategies that -- I've always believed in, you know, digitalmedia. To jump on what Julie said before, the problem with the Canada councilgrant is no one seems to understand what we can actually apply for, but we allwant -- we all need the money. But I think now we will have time to haveunderstood what they really mean in the program. And I agree with you in thiscase. But I would say that for me, any strategy, digital strategy for my entirecareer has always been about creating bridges, but the end result must be tosee the work in the flesh. You know, this is what I strive for.
Seeing an artwork and having a physicalrelationship to the size of the work, to how you're feeling in front of it, howyou -- you know, if you think of your travel to an institution, your encounterwith the people who say hello, you know, that whole context of getting ready tobe face-to-face with a work of art is for me also part of your ability toengage with the work. And you know, however you have virtual tours or anythingvirtual, you lose this.
You can't feel your physical connection to theartwork, and we'll never be able to -- the only way to do this is to bephysically in front of the artwork. And then this ties in to, you know, asJulie was saying, when you're in a room, you can see the audience reacting withyou with their bodies, with their noddings of the head, with their uh-huh andthat keeps you going. There's that emotional reaction which now is verydifficult to have, because we don't see the people, and then if you seeeveryone on the panel, then there's way too many people, and you know, youdon't know where to focus your attention. So for me, it's really those are thethings that I miss the most and that I find that will not be replaced by anyvirtual thing, -- encounter.
And yesterday, I had the chance to travel toHamilton and go to a studio visit with an art SXIFT -- artist and see themateriality of the works while you're kneeling down on the floor of a studioand talking to are theaist is a very different experience than doing it throughZoom. If all else fails, we do that. Really the materiality of our physicalengagement and of the engagement with an artwork, whether it's a painting, adrawing, a sculpture, a photography, a photograph. Even in video work, seeingLisa's work does not -- seeing it at the AGO with the immensity of the screenis a completely --
you can't reproduce this if you're sitting onyour TV screen, even if you have a movie theatre. You have to be in the spaceto feel the arc of the screen, to see the images and to have that reaction.
>> JENNIFER: Yeah. I'm thinking as we'reall talking and I'm thinking about the impact of the loss of scale. Right? Andthe sort of maybe for myself, it's been a process of mourning in some way,because you do lose the ritual of, as you say, going and attending these groupsand getting the interaction and that sense of community, the vibrancy that'sthere and the embodiment that happens. Right in for me, it's been a bit of astruggle with being slightly disembodied and that is tieing into the sense ofscale that you get lost when you're 2d on a screen.
It's had some advantages and disadvantages.
>> Can I add one thing in terms ofchallenges? It is fatigue and not the challenge ever producing events or lackof community. Even as viewers, the ability to process information, to focus, totake it into our imagination and retain. I feel like for many people who arekind of -- at least -- some people's work has migrated to the digital space orpeople attending multiple events, I don't know if we're processing in the sameway.
>> I can add in this also, which talksabout accessibility.
Depending where you live and whether you'rebandwidth and your signal is good, I mean, there are things you won't be ableto access in the same way that I'm downtown Toronto. I a high-speed network. Ican afford to have high-speed network, because some people cannot afford thisand then libraries are closed. So for this question of accessibility for peoplein term of, again, we see another element of social barriers and financial andalso what are -- how does it -- what are signals in rural areas or furtherareas and the city versus all of these questions, and which neighbourhood areyou -- do you live in a concrete building, or are you in a house with windows?All of these things, you suddenly realise that this -- whereas if people cancome to the gallery, whether they have physical disabilities and all of this,we can all still, you know, exchange on a type of same playing field, you know,type of, but with the add-on of the virtual, all those technical issues canalso impact the accessibility for people.
>> Sorry, Jennifer. I wanted to add on towhat both of Devyani and Gaetane are saying. I'm in a rural place in ruralManitoba, and lots of Indigenous communities are in rural and remote areas andthe broadband is terrible. So then that kind of engagement is difficult, butthen on the flip side, a good colleague and collaborator Heather talks abouthow Inuit have been using social media such as Facebook to communicate all thetime, because in fact, it takes such a small amount of broadband, so you canactually text and talk to each other that way. And so a lot of people, becausethey have always been separated, because of the vastness of their territory,you know, they've had to use and adapt to technologies to be able tocommunicate. I think I agree with all those things and it's true, becauseespecially in dense urban spaces like Toronto, you can see the disparity of whohas access to internet and what kind and how quickly or the devices to actuallyutilize that.
Then we look to rural and remote or northerncommunities, and it's actually a preferred way of communicating, even thoughthey have really low broadband width.
>> JENNIFER: It's a great point.
The panel before ours was talking aboutaccessibility, and they were talking about hacks, and here's an example of ahack.
Right? OK, everyone is using Facebook messengerbecause it's super easy and doesn't take a lot of data and you can talk to eachother quickly. These changes we're experiencing here, maybe in the city may notbe the same, obviously, for everyone else across-the-board there.
Very interesting. So let's move to the -- thinkabout what has surprised you. Have you seen anything in the audiencedevelopment or in feedback you've been receiving, any shifts there that havesurprised you in your communities and how you've been building and working atall? Gaetane, would you like to start?
>> Well, two things. And again, hats offto colleagues across the country. So one of my colleagues chief curator atcontemporary Calgary phoned me on a Friday afternoon and says I have this idea.Could we create this platform, and everybody's producing art content, andycould we create a platform where we become a bridge between artist practicesand like sharing it across the country.
And I say yes, this is a great idea. Within, Idon't know, Who Deys, what I thought was going to be one institution perprovince and territory was like 60 institutions had signed on.
And then not -- I think seven to ten days, therewas a new platform and it's called fieldtrip.art. They figured out a systemthat everyone would commission different things and then share it on theplatform on Instagram. To me, I was floored by the rapidity in which all ofthis happened. So for me, that was, again, showing the resource everness ofthese --
resourcefulness of these arts communities thatpulls together so quickly.
The other thing I found very interesting that makesus and pushes you to check ourselves is especially in the aftermath of GeorgeFloyd and the Black Lives Matter, it's like how people have been using at least-- I don't go on Facebook that much but I've been on Instagram.
How people were just telling institutions andusing the comments and for me, I was reading them, even if it ever like reallyharsh comments to other institutions, to teach us what not to do and tounderstand that our audiences are really in tune, and they ask us to do better,and they say the word, and they tell us, and for me, that surprised me, theability -- not the ability, but the engagement to which level people justcalled out institutioninstitutions about their antiracist, you know, policies,and also like, you and I, we've read all -- everything that's coming out in thenews, through -- it has to do with COVID definitely, but it also has to do withhow people --
everybody has been pushed to be so much onsocial media that people are using it as a vector to voice the positive and thenegative and to keep us in check. And I'm thinking each time I write something-- I've always been like this, but I think all of us need to be thinking of --this is a real source of communication with our audience, and even audiencesthat don't necessarily come to our institutions use social media to be reallyforceful in their comments, and I would say their negative comments. And so ittotally surprised me the ability to use their voice to make a point.
>> JENNIFER: I think you said you had asecond thing?
>> Well, the first thing was the fieldtrip and the second thing ever this Instagram, you know, the voice ofwas thisInstagram, you know, the voice of people feeling empowered to say what theyfeel and what they mean and call out institutionsinstitutions across-the-board.
>> I would say that's happening at theuniversity level, like institutions broadly too, because I got reallyinteresting meetings in term of panic around the new guard and the old schooland thinking about how to push that stuff out. That's a big large conversation.For me, it's really exciting, because I've been doing the work. I was laughing.We had this other live talk and it came out of my mouth. I was like some of ushave been doing this work for over 20 years and some of us on the shoulders ofother people have been doing that for even longer. And so you know, it's fun tothink about, for me, especially, all the training and mentorship that goes intomentormentoring students to become new cultural workers into the field andScott scholars into the field. I think it doesn't prize me. I think it makes meso happy and so proud in a way of feeling that contribution that a bunch everus have been working really hard to get to get to do.
It's surprising but it's also fulfilling at thesame time.
And then all of a sudden you're getting allthese e-mails and calls. We know when the council also said that we're lookingat boards now. If you have university on your boards and a couple of boardscoming, Heather would make jokes and I would make jokes. They paste your bioandthey're like dear Julie.
You seem great. Could we have you on your board?And I'm like no [not audible]. The fact is that now, people are being calledout to that, and that's public, and I think that's a tough blow, but for me, Ithink that it's also a really good opportunity for us to seize the work thatwe've been pushing and pushing for that we have a bigger platform in positionsof power, and to be able to keep pushing the bigger institutions and the nextlevel of positions of power to say we demand this.
Look at what the world is asking for. Look atwhere we're going to. Then the more peep people that have access to educationand empowerment, the world will shift. It will continue to shift. The otherthing that gets me excited is the need for -- I sort of mentioned it earlier,the archival aspect of what digital can do. And so, you know, another festival,the Singapore night festival had reached out because of the work with NuitBlanche and they also had kind of a scholarly engagement with the festival andabout 14 years, they've had to cancel. They wanted to have a conversation aboutwhat you were going to be thinking about to do with the current climate. Andso, we had talked a lot about the need for archive and that idea of like notjust a literal like just a plain, you know, we did in this year and thishappened this year but an engagement with the audience and archive. That'ssomething you can do, because I think what happens with these kind of largeheart scale events is we go to them, and we embody them and we experience them,and then there's no efemoral, there's no traces left of those moments. I thinkthat because, similarly, to what Devyani and Gaetane said, you now have theresources in terms of you now can understand what is possible in the digitalrealm. You have your whole team behind to you try to figure out what we coulddo and how you said you mobilize and thought Huet few institutions and it wasover 60.
People are hungry for it, and so it's that kindof opportunity to take that moment and take advantage of the fact you're kindof sitting still and can do some of that really important work you've beenwanting to do and that you have the opportunity to do it. And I think that themore that we can archive all of that and have people engaged in that, thatagain speaks to the new generation of people that keep coming up into thecultural sector that are able to access all of that information.
>> I think that's an excellent point.
And it's really nice to be able to see, as yousay, these experiences that are more temporal and efemoral that we haveartifacts there and accessible artifacts. They're not physically locked in abin in some basement somewhere that we can't ever get to. And we can accessthem to our own time and own face for research.
Devyani, I'm going to turn to you now. What hassurprised you from from the process is?
>> And I feel like it can be and I don'twant to be repetitive or take up space, but it is the power of this moment ofreckoning. For me I'm not talk about the surprise of our own AGO content butall the essays that have come out over the last week cross sectorally injournalism, by leaders, in the arts. I think voice as Gaetane said is the mostamazing. Not only our only cultural productions and Nuit or the fall season.It's just people speaking and speaking really loud. I think what I've beenthinking about a lot is just is that leading to a tipping point?
And I don't know if that -- I don't know. I feellike I'm unclear, even though there's been so much expression by artists, bythinkers, by the next generation. I think we're definitely in a bit of a powerstruggle right now and a very real one in culture, and I'm just trying to beZen and watch as it unfolds. But the reckoning has been the most interestingthing.
>> JENNIFER: That's interesting.
It ties back into the adapting value and thequestion of who prescribes what has value and what doesn't, right? And who getsto speak out there. Are you OK if I plug your essay?
Too late now. Yeah. So for everyone watching.Devyani has recently released a very wonderful piece of commissioned writing onher experience as a leader at one of the top institutions in the country orlargest institutions of the country. You can find that at the website. So let'sshift to one of our final questions here before we take an audience question.It was interesting this morning much I was giving a bit of a welcome address,and I talked about this being a safe space for safe conversation that canhappen here and honest conversation. And then our keynote Dr. Anthony Schragcame on after and said I picked up on that. He's like. Do you know what Iprefer? It's dangerous conversation. We should be having conversations that aremaking us uncomfortable and are more dangerous in that way. So I think theseare two sides of one coin. But let's throw out question number four. What canwe, as we move forward, what can we safely leave behind? Julie's laughing.She's reaching for the mic.
>> I'm like the bull shit, all of it. I'mhappy to like -- see ya later. I just think in my mind, I'm just like so tired,like we had an incredible panel at the Canadian arts summit. I just felt likewe just smashed it in terms of the kind of dialogue and conversation that washappening and Gaetane was part ever that panel and Carrie swanson. And after,it was so patronizing because all these people would come up and almost pat youon the back. You're so articulate and did such a good job. I'm like I'm soexhausted of it. I would leave all that behind and push through, and I hopethat what Devyani says doesn't come true. I hope the reckoning actually is thereckoning and the shift of power starts to continue to tip, and I think thatthat's what I'd like to leave behind.
That's why I was laughing when you said that.Can I just say this?
>> JENNIFER: You can all say anything. Weare approved. Go ahead. Yeah. Any thoughts from Gaetane or Devyani?
>> Well, I mean, I remember vividly when Iwas invited for that panel. I told Julie. I only accepted because it was youand Carrie. And I said I no longer doing this. This is not why my parentsraised me to do this. But I also feel a responsibility, you know, to everyone,to my people, and to everyone in general, and I do hope that, you know -- and whenI say "hope," because we know the people in power never want to giveaway the power, and I hope that people really understand their role and theirown individual role, whether you are a person of colour or not --
and especially if you're not a person of colour,your own responsibility in doing the work, learning, reading, and also to say,like, I decide to embody this, you know. And it's a shared -- it's a sharedresponsibility, and if we want to change the world, which I hope we do, becauseif we're not going to change the world, we might as well stop. Right? So ofcourse, you know, one train has left. It's not the first time that we havethese conversations. You know. When it comes to first nations and Indigenouspeople, and Black people, we've been having those conversations since 1619, youknow, in some way, shape, or form.
And I think that people need to understand that.And I was in a talk the other day, like in a meeting, and I said, you know, I'msorry for everyone, but the people being killed now, you know, on the news, arefirst nations and Black people.
They're the ones who suddenly, when they have --whichever reason, the police feels comfortable shooting them as of this is theonly solution, you know. And so I think that I feel that these are importantquestions, and that I hope we can really have. When people think of buildingteams that they think, they check themselves and say oh my God. I do haveIndigenous people? Do I have bipop people? Do I have queer people? You need tomake that exercise, because one might think that then our relationships areonly based on race and colour, but I'm sorry for people. That's how it's alwaysbeen, but if you make it as if suddenly they woke up and realised that somepeople were always excluded. The people that were always excluded were alwaysexcluded, and we recognize ourselves. And so I think that if we want a realshift as -- I remember working with a team, and looking at the layout of ourannual report.
And because we do programs with -- in some underservedareas, you know, in our power youth program, there were the majority of peopleof colour and black people. And then when there was power kids, which isparents and their children, there were none of these, you know, black and brownpeople with their kids. And I had to say, excuse me. I'm a parent.
I know many Black parents and Brown or nonwhiteparents who take the time to go out on a Sunday. One of my staff, and they meanwell. It's about teaching. The person said oh, there's one in the corner. Isaid that's the problem. It's not supposed to be in the corner.
It's supposed to be front and centre just likeeveryone else.
Now when I look at when my team producesaccident I no longer have to have this conversation.
They've embodied it themselves regardless oftheir cultural origin. For me, the important thing is regardless of theircultural origin, because even if I would hope, you know,- I have my doubts --that even if I wasn't the director and the director of my institution is awhite European settler descendent whichever, they that would have flexed thatmuscle to say my institution will be stronger if I have diversity around thetable. And that diversity is not only about the colour of your skin, becauseyou could -- at times, you could have a board that's majority white, becausepeople have transitioned off. But what are they supporting? Are they supportingthat diversity within the team? Are they supporting the diversity within theprograms? So it's not just saying everybody needs to be all colours in order tohave a diverse program or in order to lead a diverse institution. But it has tobe from top to bottom, and often, the bottom is more woke than the top. And sopeople who lead have to listen to their teams, because often, when you have dramas,right, as we would say being called in to meetings, if the people at the tophad talked to all the levels, but talking meaning listening, really listening,and sayingsaying OK, let's go with what you're suggesting, while fullyunderstanding if it blows in everybody's face, it's OK, but we have triedsomething, and we, meaning everyone in the organization, have been listening toeach other. Then you become a team that can confront anything, because allthese conversations, I'm sorry, for people who are uncomfortable, they willnever be perfect. We will make mistakes. We will say the wrong term. We willcall somebody what they're not supposed to be called. But it's about yourability to say hey, sorry I did this. So can you remind me how do I say your nameproperly?
Write it to me in any which way you need to.Phonetic, record it on your phone. And you know, when I hear people not beingable to say HUD na Shoeny, I'm like so. For me to say it, I practised andpractised, and I remember asking Cheryl so many times. Can you remind me how wesay it. Now when I say it, it comes out. It's not because I was word HUD nashowny in my tongue. It's because I made the effort. I hope everybodyunderstands this is a shared effort. I made the effort to say HUD na Shoeny properly.If I'm announcing it in a different area of the country, I would hope that thenation on which land I'm walk is going to say, you know what? This is how wesay our name and that I will be listening instead of saying oh, sorry so are. Idon't know how to say that.
It's too hard for me. So really talking from topto bottom and listening to the staff that's also at the institution in order tohave a shared vision and a shared future together.
>> JENNIFER: Yeah. I am thinking about thesacredness of name, and the respect that it shows to people to make that effortand to simply ask. I don't think anybody's upset when someone messes up a name,but to ask what that is. Poets Musgrave is adamant about naming and tightsingon thing.
She says no matter what you achieve in life, oneof the things that will last the LONTH long effort is your name. Be itotherwise grave stone or passed down intergenerationally, all those things.
It's all tied into identity.
We're talking about how your team has adaptedand has embodied these changes that we've seen against anti-Black racism,antioppression and various things too. I'd like to come back and touch onwhether or not that work was happening preCOVID or if COVID now has impactedthe way they're operating on their programming to sort of take a deeper lenslook on that? Before we do that, I'm going to step to Devyani to speak on whatshe feels can safely be left behind.
>> I want to also clarify one thing inhope and solidarity with Julie which is I may be sitting looking at the tippingpoint but I'm not unhopeful about it.
I am hopeful this is critical mass and a momentof change, but I'm also just watching because I feel we're at that kind ofpoint. Letting go. Yeah, I'm tired of the fight and the talks and the kind ofbullshit as Julie says around power and who holds power in culture in thiscountry and appointments of people into leadership roles and speaking toourselves in an integrated way. I'd like for us to be speaking and hiring fromour communities to lead our institutions as well. I know the AGO team willprobably not like me saying this, but I feel like despite all the success ofwhat we've been programming, I'd like to let go of the idea of productivity,and the kind of capitalist ethos of consumption because we're all sitting herethinking we should be in a reflective state or some people who can afford it ina reflective state. Most people are working harder than ever for less andlosing their jobs and we're still talking about what we consume and produce.And I don't know. I think maybe this is the opportunity to try to move awayfrom that ethos a little bit.
>> JENNIFER: That's an excellent point andhow it ties into those oppression systems and capitalism and having to beproductive and do the output and that sort of condescending tone almost in away we shall teach you. Here's ego and hopefully this is cracking open somethings we can keep pushing into to develop participatory community-based. Asart moves away from object creation and into temporal time-based community-buildingexperiments that reveal to us who we are to each other and what we could be.
I think that's excellent.
Gaetane, did you have a little bit or did eitherof you as well, Devyani and Julie on anything that has changed in your teams ortheir outlook to their creation of value online due to COVID and theanti-racism pieces that have been affecting everyone?
>> I think that Julie wanted to interveneon the point before.
>> I think it's important to be humble. Imispronounce names.
It's not my mother tongue and it takes hardwork, especially when we do the large international stuff. If I don't introduceor say welcome in Maury, those feelings are hurt. And rightfully so. I know forme, it is a challenge in term of my ability to be able to do that work, but Icontinue to push through, and I continue to try to do it even though usuallyeverybody laughs and I get a good chuckle out of the crowd.
At the end of the day, it's worth the work. Ijust think that's so important, and I think that people need to be remindedthat there's no like perfect pedestal position where nobody has to do the work,where nobody's not learning, where people's lives aren't being transformed orwe're constantly in this reciprocal or even a push and pull. We have to workreally hard at doing that, and so when we try to do that work, people see that,and they see that effort, and they are more forgiving and willing to teach youif you ask those questions.
Right? And I think that's so critical,especially as we move forward, and as our world becomes more and more globaland people move through spaces and we learn about different people anddifferent places and how to say those names properly. I have been travelling --not to pick on New Zealand but Mawri is hard. I've been travel there since 2011and just now I'm starting to hear the sounds I need to. I'm happy about it. Ifeel more connected when I go to that place or engage with those people, andit's going to be the same thing with within Canada and the context of I'malways learning, and I think that's humbling.
>> So Jennifer, do you want me to answerthat question about whether the work had started before COVID?
>> JENNIFER: Yeah. In terms of teams oryou know, like when we're talking about broadly but value online, right? Or ifyou've noticed a shift or opening in some way or an increased in learningthat's come about from all of these cracks in the system and oppressive systemsthat COVID has highlighted for everyone?
>> Within our case, the Power Plant,because I only want to talk about that, is that -- but I would say it's thesame for my role at TAC in terms of organization.
That work had been done before, so we, in termof -- one thing I found very interesting is that some of our patrons who arenot people of colour, you know, mentioned to us how in view of the situation inwhich we are living now, they really felt that as patrons of Power Plant, theywere already prepared for those shifts, because through the exhibition and theprograms we had been doing over the last eight years, you know, these werecommon themes that they had seen through the works of artists and through ourprogramming also. So I would say that our team has always been a team -- Imean, as we have grown together, regardless of shifts and changes of staff, butit has become part of the culture of the institution to be mindful that whenwe're proposing, like, artists to do -- to engage with the gallery, that we bemindful to say oh my God. We need to make sure there's people of colour, andfrom different areas of the city. Also different age groups, you know, so thatyou're not only thinking of emerging artists, but thinking of more seniorartists, younger -- those barriers that -- those silos that we put towards eachother.
We try to break them continuously, and I've seenthis in the way heightened, of course, in the digital wave, because you have toin a certain sense program in a different manner, and you have to becalculating more, because the number of events you do might be, you know, moresuccinct than allowing people in the gallery.
So if within the last two months, the onlyeffective engagement with the galleries only through digital, you want to makesure that what you've brought forward, you know, did represent that diversityand in order -- this was not the time to start force feeding staff about whatis right or wrong to do, and that's where you see the strength of theorganizations, the ones that had already started doing that work before.
Maybe not perfectly, but were ready to engagewith the moment and to see that reflected in their core values through theironline, you know, participation and engagement.
>> JENNIFER: Sorry. I left you on thatlast piece. Devyani, did you want to pop in on this one?
>> I'm relatively new to the AGO. It'sbeen two plus years much there's been many people in that space doing a lot ofthat work for a long time, going back through curetorial and programming andone has to acknowledge that. I feel, though, that a lot of the adaptability anda lot of the last two weeks has been about being responsive in meaningful waysand Audrey Hudson, our curator around school programs has led to two panelswith community around anti-Black racism. Wanda, myself, and Tanya spoke justafter Black Tuesday, and discussed the kind of reactions to this moment aswell. So I think there's been a lot about responsiveness in conversation, butby no way is it new in term of COVID.
It's been happening for years, mostly throughindividuals and their passions, and I'm thinking of Cyrus Marcus ware at theAGO.
I don't think we can discount that history, butthe last two weeks has definitely been about stepping up and being responsive.
>> JENNIFER: Thank you. We have about fiveminutes left. Shall we turn to a couple of audience questions? All right. I'llthrow out the first one here.
And we'll see who wants to take a chew on it. Sohow has what you considered success changed for an event as it has shifted todigital?
>> Can I just jump in on this?
I know I just spoke. It's so funny, because wejust got off a meeting with our web team, and to be honest, we're stillcollecting data.
I'm thinking what is success?
Is success numbers of views? Is successengagement after the fact? Is success an artist and a speaker enjoying andfeeling enriched and an audience member feeling they've learned something? Idon't know. I tend to the latter even if there's 50 people, and I had thepleasure of speak to Rajai ferrar and she felt enriched and I felt fortunateand enriched by our conversation as did audience members. If ten people hadattended that, that to me is a success. In term of how institutions aremeasuring success, I don't think we know yet. We know numbers, but is it the lengthof view? Is it how many people on Facebook live in the moment versus 4,000 overthe next 24 hours? I'm thinking about it a lot. What I'm saying is I don'tknow. I think it's about individuals being fed.
>> JENNIFER: Julie or Gaetane, yourthoughts on this?
>> I would say the same thing as Devyanireally. I did an event -- and also sometimes depending on the time of the daywhen you do the event, there might not be so many people that day. But then youput it on YouTube and then suddenly after a few weeks, you see so many people.For me it becomes an elastic notion, and again, it's all of this is going toshift depending on what are the business models that we impose on ourselves interms of measuring success. And that is an unknown factor which I think will beharder for bigger institutions than smaller nimble institutions that have neverfunctioned on the same, you know, scale of OK, because of their structure. It'snot that one is better than the other.
It's just those are different models, because ofdifferent structures.
>> JENNIFER: Yeah. I think it'sinteresting, too, because it's giving places a chance to sort of have a reviewof what different types of bottom lines are out there and what are weconsidering as capital. And it's not always about the dollar. Right? It couldbe about other things. It's a very interesting time to sort of try anddelineate what those things are. Is it community engagement? How do you measurethose different impacts?
We have another question here.
Gabby has asked: What do you think dictatespeople's interest in online events? What contributes to the ebb and flow ofpeople being motivated to engage with them? Big question.
>> I think for me, I think it's communityengagement. So for me, it's the same reason we all joked and said yeah, we'rehappy to be with this group of people and excited to this dialogue.
To me that's about building community andcapacity. I'm less interested -- I don't have a lot of extra time. I have twolittle people so I didn't have a lot of time and especially now with homeschooling. It's next level. I think in my head, I do have screen fatigue. I'mvery selective of what I choose and what I don't choose. And you know,sometimes you have regrets. It's the same thing when you go out in publicspaces preCOVID. You have to be selective of what you have energy for and whatyou don't.
And I think that for my, it's about buildingcommunity and capacity, and so I just think, there are people that I'm workingwith that I want to continue to work with. I want to broaden that circle, andinclude more people and have really intense and interesting and fun dialogues.I think for me, that's what fills me and what I want to be -- it doesn't matterif that's online or in person. For me, it has to fill me in a way I get excitedabout.
>> JENNIFER: Very well said.
Yep. Gaetane is like I have nothing. That wasit. All right. Yeah. No, it was beautifully said. Thank you.
Did anyone have any last thoughts or comments?
>> I think we're -- sorry, Julie, I didn'twant to say anything after you said that.
But where we're going is what is the hybrid?What we're think about in the AGO iso reopening to the members on the third andthe public on the 21st. And again we're designing it in and figuring out inreal time.
It's really creative and also challenging,because no one has lived through this before. I'm curious to see who entersthis space in the next four weeks, how many people do come -- how do theyengage? And then what do we offer in the virtual world versus in front of awork of art? So the next month is going to be interesting.
>> Yeah. I'd like to second that. I thinkthat, you know, for many years, institutions have been talking about capacitybuilding and community building.
And I think now that the access to the work wedo and the spaces we work in has been reduced, you know, how will people --when people have the choice, will they choose us like in terms of priority ofplaces to be? And that will teach us something about whether our work hasreally penetrated into people's psyche or if there's still more work to bedone.
>> I just want us to take a quick picturebefore we have to depart so we can have our eefemoral, so there's adocumentation of it. I want everybody to smile quick.
[ Photo shutter ]
>> Thank you.
>> JENNIFER: Thank you, Julie.
>> I'll send it to you guys.
>> JENNIFER: Thank you. Yeah.
So I think we're just about on time. It's been afantastic discussion, and we had one other question, but it's a big one to chewon. It's very interesting and ties into what we were wrapping up. I'm going toput it out into the ether and we'll leave it there. Someone has asked, thesense ever community is important, should organizations moving forward reducetheir online presence and replace it with travelling performances andexhibitions instead? Those are big questions. I know a lot of you are alreadydoing that work with travelling and moving exhibitions physically. We'rewelcome to keep taking questions and to keep engaging with these fantastic expertswho joined us here today. Thank you from the bottom of my heart to all three ofus. It's been fantastic and a wonderful learning experience.
It's my pleasure to be sitting here you with.
>> Thank you. It was nice seeing everyone.Thank you for joining in.
>> Thank you for having us.
>> Thank you for being with us, and I alsowant to say a special thanks for just for me personally for addressing theissue of the right way of pronouncing people's names, because I am also animmigrant.
I just came here less than a year ago, and Iknow this issue from both sides. So that how it feels when your name ismispronounced and how it feels when your name is pronounced correctly, andthat's really great. And also trust me, I spent yesterday, the whole day juststudying the names for today and tomorrow's sessions.
So it's doable. It's really worth it. Thank youso much.
So now, I think we're going to the last breakfor today. It will take us 15 minutes.
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Hello! Thank you for doing this!
Hi ladies! so excited for this conversation
GaÃ«tane making me feel like we're at The Power Plant sitting on a patio.. where's my beer?
Devyani - the AGO anti-racism panels have been incredible!
Case in point - thanks for the heads up Caroline, I'll watch this later! https://ago.ca/events/how-talk-about-anti-black-racism
Brilliant! Thank you for the link!
what do you think dictates people's interest in online events & what contributes to the ebb and flow of people being motivated to engage with them?
Oh! Seconding Gaby's question. I've seen some odd patterns.
With much research and study is involved and it's all personal opinion vs audience reaction...
Yes, Gaetane. It's the same in the music world. It is the ENTIRE experience that moves thee audience, not just hearing the music.
Very true ...rural/non-metropolitan regions would love to access more ...
such a great perspective to keep in mind Julie!
Very true! Case in point - 10,000 laptops were provided to students in the Peel school board because they did not have access. Accessibility and equity should be major considerations going forward in the digital space.
That's cool. I did not not know that.
that would explain why my Grandma in Maintoulin always uses Facebook to communicate...I had no idea.
online vs entertainment endeavours vs non-profit is going to be hard ...
I think we can do it though.
Bless you Devyani!
Bless you Devyani (saw the sneeze)
Some Thoughts on Culture: Devyani Saltzman https://www.patelbrown.com/blog
Yes! So true!
building access from the ground up!!!
That is how you become an ally. By using your privilege to create true systemic change. I agree 100%!
let's be uncomfortable together.
Excellent points everybody :clap:
Yes Liz! It'll take time.
:raised_hands: :raised_hands: :raised_hands:
YES. Uncomfortable conversations about race and privilege NEED to happen.
:raised_hands: :raised_hands: :raised_hands: :raised_hands:
Learning someone's name is such a simple way to show your respect!
This is where leadership steps in and that might be hard but ... I'm horrible with linguistics/accents so just ask and try. It will take time.
@Polly And making sure to spell and pronounce it correctly. It's so important.
yesss! Self care is productivity!
sleep is productivity!
feeding your mouth AND your soul is productivity!
We all have to accept that we are not always going to look or feel good through all of this.
Great point Devyani
it's unbelievable how people can still spell your name wrong in response to an email when your name is RIGHT THERE. It's so easy to just learn someones name and makes such a big difference
I still feel guilty if I haven't hit my quota of 'work' for the day
this is specially true for arts and culture workers, many of which are overworked and underpaid (pre- and post-covid if they still have a job)
Vocal chords relearning is hard ...
Well said Julie.
Talking VERY broadly. I feel that we have drifted from the main topic a bit.
:clap: thanks so much everyone!
Thank you all!
Thank you! great chat!
Thank you Panel :slightly_smiling_face:
Thank you so much! :clap:
Thank you! That was fantastic!
Thanks for joining, everybody! A very big discussion today! We're going to have an approximately 15 min break, then we will have a performance by Bageshree Vaze!