On August 18, Lakeshore Arts Board of Directors received an open joint letter from a former staff member and several artists connected to Lakeshore Arts. This letter calls out the board’s recent hiring decision as being in direct conflict with the statement the staff of our organization released against anti-Black racism on June 17.
The Lakeshore Arts Board of Directors acknowledges the letter, as well as the time, thought, and effort it took to publish it.
While our process of hiring a new Executive Director began in February and involved consultation with internal and external stakeholders, we recognize that our actions in the process of hiring the Executive Director have caused harm that has been felt by both those who wrote and signed the open letter and more broadly by the Black, Indigenous and racialized communities we engage with.
For that, we unreservedly offer an apology to the former staff member and artists who released the open letter, our staff and the entire BIPOC community. We would also like to acknowledge that the time we took to respond publicly to the open letter was too long, and the delay caused further harm. We will be putting better systems in place to make sure this does not happen again.
The executive of Lakeshore Arts has been meeting regularly to discuss, consult and chart a path forward. We have begun the process of engaging an external consultant who specializes in anti-oppression and anti-racism training. This is the first of many steps that will need to be taken to help identify and eliminate white supremacy within Lakeshore Arts.
Members of the Lakeshore Arts Board of Directors met on August 27 in an emergency meeting to review the executive committee’s activities over the past ten days. This was also the first opportunity for board members to collectively review the organization’s anti-racism statement since it was published and affirm the commitments made in it. As such, the Board of Directors would like to state that we back this statement in full and will be focusing our activities over the coming days, months, and years, in ensuring those commitments are followed and become part of the organization’s culture, policies, procedures, practices and relationships.
To do this work properly, we know it will take time and involve deep listening to the communities harmed. However, we also recognize the urgent need to be held accountable for our actions in order to confront and dismantle white supremacy in our organization, and we intend to treat this issue with the urgency it requires. Moving forward, we will make public our actions and will provide updates on a regular basis.
– Lakeshore Arts Board of Directors