Dear ASK Members, Supporters and Friends,
A little over 1 year ago, ASK shared a statement with our community centered around anti-racism and “standing in solidarity”. We addressed where we were at, where we wanted to be, and made sure not to over-promise or say things we didn’t intend to or know how to stand behind. We stated that ASK’s Board of Directors and Staff had been in discussion on how we would incorporate anti-racist principles into our mission and how to transform our organization into one that is truly representative of the community.
While it has always been our mission to act as an umbrella to foster and promote the arts in Kingston and the Mid-Hudson Valley, we are working to understand the full scope of what that means. How can our organization go beyond being a gallery, a performance space, and a classroom to make lasting impactful change in people’s lives? We are committed to building a community that addresses root injustices and centers the needs of our community members who are most affected by those inequities.
Some steps that we have taken over the past year include:
- At the Board level, we’ve incorporated a monthly prompt centered around anti-racism into our Board meeting agenda. In this space, we address issues both institutional and personal through the lens of anti-racism. This practice has helped our Board recognize aspects of our organization that are barriers against community involvement and focus on solutions.
- In our galleries, we have prioritized offering free exhibition space to organizations that center people of color and their experiences through visual art. We have also been more mindful about whose work we share in our Spotlight Gallery, who is included when we offer opportunities, and how Eurocentric definitions are upheld.
- At the Membership level, we have revamped our Membership Model to include payment plans on Artist Memberships, affordable Student Membership, and free Youth Membership. We are also working towards introducing a Sliding Scale Membership option by Fall 2021.
We know that the work is never done but are grateful to have the capacity to keep diving deeper. We will explore ASK’s place within the local art scene by developing partnerships with other community organizations committed to creating more equitable communities. We will continue to deepen meaningful relationships with Kingston community members who have been pushed to the margins, making sure their voices are amplified and integrated into our planning and community building.
This work will never be done, but we are committed to continuing our personal and organizational growth through the work. ASK’s members are vital to this process. We will learn from them and provide opportunities for their growth as well. We are grateful to be working in community with you. Black Lives Matter. Black Art Matters. We don’t say this to show that we know — we say it in order to keep these words close to us and examine why they need repeating. Because it affects us all.
Brent Felker, James Smith, Tim Bruck, Jamie Sanin, John Remington, clyde forth, Terry Murray, Julio Nazario, Andrea Park, and Francesca Szabadi