To our communities,
We hope this correspondence finds you well, all things considered.
Coming out of the 34th edition of Images Festival, we would like to start by congratulating the festival team and participating artists, and thanking our incredible partners for helping to make this year’s festival a success. While the festival brought many highlights and successes, it also presented us with an opportunity to reflect on some changes that we’ve made to Images over the past two years, and to assess the strengths and limitations of those decisions. Despite the work we’ve undertaken during this time, we know that we have not been proactive enough in communicating our plans and decisions over the past year. As part of this process, we want to start sharing some resources and documentation of this work with our communities.
In the that we shared with you in August 2020, Images Festival’s Board of Directors and Executive Director outlined our commitment to address conflict, harm, and racism—specifically anti-Black racism—within our organization. At that time, we also advised of the initial steps we’d taken to do so. An aspect of this ongoing work is acknowledging how the festival’s leadership had failed to act when anti-Black racism was called out by our 2019 Research Forum, and by a Black employee who has since left the organization.
Our failure to address the causes or repair the harm that was experienced has led to reticence and refusal of some individuals and groups to continue working with us. We understand and respect their decision to do so. We also want to assure you that we are taking the steps necessary throughout the organization to repair past harms, and to build more equitable and ethical futures for Images, and in our relationships with the larger community. We also understand that there should be consequences for institutional and individual oversights and errors. We have started conversations about apologies and restitutions Images can make to those we failed.
Over the past year, Images has planned and undertaken structural, systemic changes to correct past oversights, and to create an environment where artists’ work can be contextualized and celebrated with transparency and our full support. We recognize that these concrete actions, while important, need to be accompanied by more radical shifts in how we fundamentally structure our organization, how we make and communicate decisions, how we can reduce harm, and how we engage more directly with the artists, partners, and audiences whose labour and support sustains us. These changes are part of the long-term vision for Images, and will be prioritized on an ongoing basis as we continue this work in the future.
In order to provide more details on the changes we have made and our commitment to continuing this work, we have posted our accountability work plan below for you to consult. Also included are resources and documentation to help provide more transparency around our vision for this work, which includes: new Human Resources policies developed with the guidance of HR consultant Nadia Bello; Images Festival’s 2020-2023 Strategic Plan; and documentation of the 2019 Research Forum presentation. This is a preliminary list of resources that we will continue to update in the coming months.
Additionally, we will engage with partner and community stakeholders to share feedback ahead of the next phase in an externally guided, equity-based organizational review; we expect these conversations to take place through the end of the summer.
We welcome a generative dialogue with you regarding the festival’s dedication to change and the future we hope to build with you and the community. We are open to hear your thoughts, experiences, and/or reservations, and can provide more details on the actions that we will be taking to make Images a healthier and more supportive space. If you would like to discuss any of this further, we ask you to contact our Executive Director Samuel La France or our Board of Directors directly.
Images Festival’s Board of Directors
Vanessa Godden, Secretary
Manolo Lugo, Director
Julieta Maria, Co-Chair
Mani Mazinani, Co-Chair
Emily Siu, Director
Samuel La France, Executive Director