It’s been an entire season since you’ve heard from us. In the spring, along with hosting our 12th annual festival, two major things happened with OBEY: we issued an apology in light of an event we hosted that caused harm to our community and made it known that, due to a cease and desist, we need to change our name. We’re offering updates here on what we’ve been up to since and how you can get involved. Details after the jump!
Consultation + Next Steps
In the wake of the harm caused by ‘Gay Guerilla: Julius Eastman’ we’ve been in discussion and consultations exploring how exactly we failed and how we can address the harm we caused; and what next steps are important. We’re currently restructuring our programming procedures and developing new policies (including a Safer Spaces Policy, Incident Response Policy and Booking and Curation Best Practices Policy) to protect against future instances of harm. We’ve been in dialogue with a number of people affected by the event with the intention of understanding how best to move forward. At present, we’ve met in consultation with a number of Black Canadian and African Nova Scotian artists and community members. We will honour their guidance and seek ways to have their input adequately reflected in our future programming. This is an ongoing process.
Nivie Singh, a community worker and artist, envisioned an Anti-Racist Toolkit to be used within the creative sector. We were so excited to be invited into a conversation around this resource aimed specifically at local arts festivals. And even more excited to be able to financially support this crucial work.
Over the coming months, Nivie will lead and coordinate this initiative alongside a collective of BIPOC artists and activists to research, develop and establish this project. Once complete, this toolkit will serve as a resource for festivals, ourselves included, to learn from and build stronger, more inclusive programming.
Organizationally, we want to focus on uplifting BIPOC artists, visionaries, and community workers in tangible ways. We also want to highlight community expertise and encourage work that is always on-going. We hope that this project can provide a foundation for radical community-centric frameworks that prioritize these voices.
We’ve been undergoing a (re)visioning process to develop a new name, new branding, new policies and to take stock of our organization’s past, present and possible future(s) so that we can restructure accordingly. This process is being overseen by artist, facilitator and community builder Kate MacDonald with support from our board members Carmel Farahbakhsh and Nik A Basset. It includes two internal sessions and one public meeting. The internal meetings are limited to stakeholders (staff, board and members) and the public meetings are open to everyone. Here’s the calendar:
September 21 | 10:30am – Internal Visioning Session
October 12 | 11:30am – Public Visioning Session
November 2 | 10:00am – Internal Visioning Session
All sessions are taking place at the Halifax North Memorial Library Auditorium space.
If you believe in what we do, and you’d like to see us continue / improve / change, now is an excellent chance to have your voice heard! We hope you’ll join us on October 12th to help us know how best to serve our surrounding communities. Beyond these planned events and consultations, we’re always eager to hear from folks.