Labour in the Arts is an arts collective that attempts to observe and demystify the Canadian nonprofit arts industry through experimentation and with creative projects.
We want to empower our community by creating pathways to knowledge, so that anyone can critically navigate the industry — and challenge the conditioned notion that institutionalized education is a prerequisite to succeed in the arts.
The Canadian cultural ecosystem is mystified and vague, which makes it challenging for newcomers/emerging artsworkers to thrive and grow.
We want to shift industry discussions around cultural policy and institutional practices from the boardroom to the workroom.
Our collective was created in 2020, and is currently grassroots and volunteer run. Our work is evolving and in very slow progress. This website is one of the first projects in our strategic vision.
We have not written this strategic vision yet.
We are currently three team members, who are artsworkers working primarily in Tkaron:to (colonially known as Toronto), which is and has been a gathering place for people of many nations.
The Canadian arts industry has a heavy reliance on government funders and colonial practices that encourage assimilation, capitalism, and euro-centrism. We as settlers/immigrants have studied in and currently work in institutions founded in a practice and history that is deeply rooted in colonialism, white supremacy, and patriarchy. As well, our current work relies on virtual spaces and platforms, which are also built using the extraction of resources in traditional territories. As we aim to facilitate conversations that apply a critical lens to this industry, its funding bodies, and its labour practices, we will commit to deconstructing, unlearning, and challenging these systems of oppression.
Tkaron:to is the territory of the Anishinabek, Wendat, Haudenosaunee and the Mississaugas of the Credit. We give our sincere thanks to this land, and to the caretakers of land and water.
This is our collective land acknowledgement, and our team will come back to this statement every 6 months to reflect on our progress. We welcome your feedback/thoughts/conversations on this acknowledgement.
Jason Li (he/him) holds a MEd in Curriculum & Pedagogy at OISE University of Toronto and a BA (Hons.) in Arts Management, Music & Culture, and Sociology at University of Toronto Scarborough. His independent research focuses on critically assessing arts labour reports and the history of precarity in the arts.
He currently works as Placement Support Officer at Humber College is assisting at the University of Toronto Scarborough for the Ethno Research project.
He looks forward to the infinite conversations that can arise from this website.
Emily is an artist/artsworker working in Toronto with a focus on the nonprofit arts sector.
Her visual artworks explores the relationship between women and their ancestors using a subliminal space.
She has been working in cultural organizations such as the Toronto International Festival of Authors and Theatre Passe Muraille with a keen interest in Canadian cultural policy, nonprofit labour advocacy and community centric fundraising.
Madeline has a MA in Cultural Analysis and Social Theory from Wilfrid Laurier University and a BA (Hons.) in Anthropology from Trent University. She also holds a Graduate Diploma in Gallery Management & Museum Curatorship Studies from Fleming College.
She has curated exhibitions for the City of Peterborough and The Centre for Memory and Testimony Studies and has worked for various arts and culture non-profit organizations in Toronto, Ontario. She currently is focused on research, support, and advocacy for labour issues in the arts.
Wing is an emerging artist and arts worker who graduated from the University of Toronto Scarborough (HBA) in Arts Management, Studio Art and Curatorial Studies.
She has worked in art groups and organizations such as InsideOut Film Festival, ARTSIDEOUT 2020, Toronto Outdoor Art Fair and 'Spread Arts: The Pandemic Auction!'
Navigating a career path as an arts labour is allowing her to experience & observe issues that are seldom discussed/ taught in the classroom nor within the sector. She believes that through a creative practice of learning, researching and decoding, more peers like herself can better understand and get involved in important conversations that can impact us in many different ways.