#ArtTransforms February 28, 2020

A time to be courageous: Interview with SKETCH Board President & Chair Charlene Quincey

By Jonsaba Jabbi

We’re excited to introduce Charlene Quincey as SKETCH’s first female President and Chair of our Board of Directors! We spoke to Charlene about her career as a lawyer and what excites her the most about SKETCH’s future.

SKETCH: How did you hear about SKETCH? What made you want to get involved?

Charlene: I was first introduced to SKETCH by a colleague who had long been a supporter. Given my legal and artistic background she thought I would be an excellent fit for the organization and would bring a new and diverse skill set to the board of directors.

SKETCH: Describe what your first time at SKETCH was like?

Charlene: I remember being amazed with the facilities and the amount of thought and care given to the space. The Weave and Mend garden, the pottery studio, recording studio and the modern commercial kitchen were inspiring. Supporting such diverse spaces to allow young people to engage in all types of art is something we should all want to support.


Charlene Quincey

SKETCH: Why did you become a lawyer?

Charlene: It’s funny as I did not initially set out to be a lawyer. I moved from Canada to New York City a week after my 18th birthday to study classical theatre, and I continued to pursue a life in the performing arts after graduation. It was not until later in my twenties after spending a year in Italy teaching English and earning my philosophy degree that I knew I wanted a career in service of human need – this lead me to apply to one of the top public interest law schools in the US where the focus is on training lawyers to service the public interest.

SKETCH: On International Women’s Day, what is the most important message you want to send out to young women thinking about their careers?

Charlene: Don’t compromise who you are. Do what you love and in doing so, be authentic, embrace diversity and champion inclusiveness. This is the time to be courageous – we can do hard things!

SKETCH: What do you think is the biggest issue today facing women today?

Charlene: Pay equity and access to leadership positions – a real seat at the table. A lot of progress has been made, but we still have a way to go. I see and experience small wins but until women get fair representation in all institutions all at levels we are going to continue to struggle for meaningful fair representation.

SKETCH: How has art transformed your life?

Charlene: Art in its many forms inspires us all. Whether it be cooking, painting, sculpting, crafting, sewing, drawing etc., art not only allows for self-reflection and healing but also builds community. It gives us an alternative form to express our ideas, fears, hopes and desires and sparks conversation. It can make friends out of strangers instantly. I am inspired by those who create change through art and harness their creativity to do big things, even hard things! It’s a common language but also one that is so diverse that you are always learning and growing with exposure and experience.

SKETCH: How important is it for women to lift each other up and what does that mean to you?

Charlene: Everyone has a responsibility to support and encourage others to be their best selves. I strive every day to support all the women in my life in whatever they choose to do – we are not competitors but allies and when we treat each other as such, we can accomplish so much!

SKETCH: As the first President and Chair of SKETCH’s Board of Directors, what does the future of SKETCH look like to you?

Charlene: The future is so bright! We have so much to learn from young people – they truly are the changemakers and future-makers. I believe that the world will be a better place because of them. Providing a stable home for the youth of today and tomorrow will ensure SKETCH continues to grow and thrive. I am excited to see what SKETCH and the youth of SKETCH accomplish over the coming years!

"You really want that utopian ideal of what our world could be? You want to be proudly and ACTIVELY anti-racist, more than fearing being called a racist? I want that for you too. If so, then do the work, educate yourself and others stand by us loudly, consistently, FOREVER." - Clara Amfo, BBC 1 Radio Host

Dear SKETCH Community,

The last two weeks have been yet another reminder that the Black community continues to be under attack by white supremacist systems. SKETCH's board of directors and staff sends their deepest sympathies to the families and friends of those who we have most recently lost including Regis Korchinski-Paquet, George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, and D’Andre Campbell, and all those whose deaths have not been televised.

In our grief and anger at these senseless murders committed by the police, SKETCH is ensuring that we stay accountable to our Black youth artists, staff and the Black community at large, by taking swift action to ensure that folks are supported, uplifted, taken care of and their voices amplified, as they continue to organize and march on the front lines for justice.

As an organization that is led by mainly white leadership, we are deeply committed to examining and activating our role as an accomplice to address violence, racism, oppression, and discrimination in our sector, in Toronto and in society generally.

This Means:
  • We will continue to look within and address our own biases and the ways that systemic and structural racism plays itself out in SKETCH;
  • We will increase investment and resources to young Black Artists;
  • We will endorse Black leadership in SKETCH and in arts and culture;
  • We will support self-care and resources for our Black staff; and
  • Our leadership will connect with other white leaders of arts and culture organizations to support Black leadership in the sector with resourced opportunities to lead in meaningful ways.

We want to acknowledge the trauma and grief of those who create with and work at SKETCH, who are Black. We know you endure violence on a daily basis. We want to reach out to support you, stand and work together with you, to fight for justice, for your health, and for your futures.

We seek to learn daily, with you, how to enact a more just present and future. Thank you for your leadership. Thank you for calling us to be better. All of our liberations depend on it.

We join the movements for prison abolition, and for strong redirection of funding for policing to go toward community-based transformative justice efforts.

We call on the Arts Councils to create a Black Artists Fund to support Black Artists and Black Arts and Culture Organizations, recognizing and investing in their leadership in arts and culture, and in building fair and inclusive communities.

We encourage the non-Black community members of SKETCH to stand with us and take action by:
  • Educating yourself on the issues;
  • Supporting your Black staff with personal time for self-care;
  • Supporting the community by buying from Black-owned business (which include Black artists at SKETCH);
  • Donating to organizations that are directly supporting Black folks;
  • Reposting and resharing information on your social media feeds;
  • Having constant conversations with your peers, families, and friends; and
  • Signing petitions that call for justice.

With so many ways to actively support the dismantling of systems that continue to oppress the Black community, silence is not an option.

We welcome you all to join SKETCH in allying yourselves with the Black community in the fight for liberation for all, not as a token event, but one that actually leads to a re-education, re-evaluation, and unbiased and selfless action.

In solidarity,

SKETCH Working Arts

Artwork: Egwu Ogwu Mystic Dance by Kanna Anigbogu

Dear Friends and Investors,

Greetings from the SKETCH Project Home Team! We hope that you and your family are keeping well and safe during this time.

UPDATE: SKETCH is placing the capital campaign to purchase our studios on brief hiatus until the fall.

Our campaign has been a great success so far, with over $370,000 raised in funds and Community Bonds! However, in face of the COVID-19 pandemic, SKETCH is taking action to suspend the campaign to allow the time needed for those excited about our campaign to be in a more secure position to participate.

If you have already donated to the campaign, or purchased SKETCH Community Bonds, we deeply appreciate your commitment to Project Home. If you've just recently submitted your bond-purchase documents, we will still process your investment.

Have any questions about your donations or bond purchase? Please do not hesitate to contact SKETCH Executive Director, Rudy Ruttimann at rudy@sketch.ca.

This summer, we'll be working with our campaign partners and SKETCH community to determine exactly when we relaunch in the Fall. We'll be sure to keep you posted over the summer.

You can still inquire about SKETCH, our capital campaign, and its progress at invest@sketch.ca or by following us at @SKETCHToronto.

Thank you for your time, and we wish all the best for you and your family.

-The SKETCH Team & Campaign Advisory