Statement of Accountability – September 1st, 2020

Posted: Sep 1, 2020 in Uncategorized

A statement of accountability to our community and those we wish to be in community with

For context:

The building SNAP has moved into on 115th street is currently undergoing a facade renewal. This project is being commissioned by the building owner, The Gather Co. and with financial support from The City of Edmonton. Part of the facade improvement includes a mural on the building’s exterior. The artists Keith-Yin Sun and Judi Chan operate under 2 commercial studio names, Vanguard Works and Studio Tipi. The Studio Tipi name has been in use in Edmonton for ten years. It is unacceptable and needs to change. The appropriation of words, images and symbols from First Nations, Inuit, and Metis cultures by artists who are not Indigenous to so-called-Canada and further to use these things as branding and an online identity is unacceptable. Over the past ten days SNAP’s Executive Director has remained in conversation with the artists about this issue. Keith and Judi have committed to changing the studio name. Until the Artists have formally made this change and issued an apology to the community they seek to continue working in, it will be difficult for anyone at SNAP and likely in the greater arts community to feel good about the mural proceeding. We also understand that a change to the studio name may not be enough for some of our community members, and we would like to express SNAP’s willingness and intention for this to be a first step in addressing the mural on an ongoing basis.

What SNAP is accountable for:

SNAP’s Executive Director and members of the Board executive team have been aware of the problematic nature of the studio name and visual identity since attending a design review meeting in February. While we raised concern with each other, we failed in taking immediate action to address the problem with The Gather Co. or with the Artists. While there are many reasons that taking action on this issue wasn’t made a priority over the past 6 months, none of those reasons hold up. This conversation should have been an urgent priority with a greater awareness of the harm this would cause in our community. Allowing the project to move forward without demanding accountability and change from all involved put SNAP in direct opposition to our stated values as an organization and the values held by our leadership team as individuals.

SNAP has a long history of speaking about diversity and inclusion without taking sufficient proactive measures or dedicating appropriate resources toward the work required for true equity. We are committed to and accountable for actionable change within our organization, our leadership, and our community. We are grateful to those within our organization and our community who have been willing to hold SNAP accountable for its inaction. We have deep regret about and apologize for the harm this has, can, and may still cause to the artists, members, staff, and community SNAP has built, and wishes to continue building trusting relationships with.

SNAP is an organization currently in transition. The Executive Director and Board Executive team are committed to moving beyond inclusion in programming to fundamentally transform our organizational culture, practices, and resource-allocation within our community. We are committed to investing in and advocating for leadership from Indigenous, Black, and other artists of colour among our board and staff at all levels so SNAP is more reflective of the communities that our members belong to.

We are committed to developing actionable items for and with our staff and Board in the coming weeks, knowing that the work ahead deserves time and focused attention. We sincerely invite further dialogue about this issue and about the work ahead of us as an organization from all members of our community. If you would like to offer feedback please be in touch with us through whatever channel of communication you prefer.

With deep regret and much love for our community,

April Dean, Executive Director, SNAP

[email protected] / 780-423-1492

Andrew Benson, on behalf of the SNAP Board of Directors

[email protected]