#ArtTransforms July 16, 2020

SKETCH’s Open Letter Follow-Up

By SKETCH Team

SKETCH responds to Toronto City Council’s June 29th decision on Motion to Defund Toronto Police Budget by 10%

On June 29th, Toronto City Council:

  • Voted to increase the Toronto Police Service budget (which is ultimately determined by the province of Ontario through the Police Services Act)
  • Passed the motion to equip all police officers with Body-Worn Cameras
  • Failed to pass a motion to work together with Black, Indigenous and People of Colour community-led organizations to develop an alternative to emergency response involving the police
  • Passed the motion to request the City Manager to report on the implementation of a Mobile Crisis Assistance Intervention Service that would deploy unarmed, medically trained crisis intervention assistance personnel, based on the “CAHOOTS” model from Eugene, Oregon.

See here for a full description of the decisions that the City Council has adopted.

SKETCH Working Arts supports the advocacy, platforms and calls to action from Toronto Prisoners’ Rights Project, Black Lives Matter – Toronto, Defund.ca and NoPrisons.ca to defund the police and invest in arts, education, increased mental health services, housing initiatives, income security, harm reduction services, accessible rehabilitation, mutual aid, conflict resolution services, transformative justice, and other community-based support systems. 

Defunding the police and investing in community-based programs is one step in the direction of the larger goal of abolition in policing (and prisons!) For more on policing abolition, please check out this great infographic created by Critical Resistance.org.

Next steps:

  1. Sign Not Another Black Life’s petition to email your Councillors to demand immediate defunding of police and reinvestment into programs which support BIPOC communities and keep everyone safe. 
  2. Follow on social media and donate to the work of Toronto Prisoners’ Rights Project, Black Lives Matter – Toronto, Defund.ca and NoPrisons.ca.
  3. Watch Progress Toronto’s panel discussion on Defunding the Police here.

Petitions and Initiatives for Justice:

  1. Justice for Regis Korchinski-Paquet. Join the public memorial and 1st Annual Regis Korchinski-Paquet Walk for Justice on July 25, 1pm at 100 High Park.
  2. Toronto SIU accountability, Justice for Regis
  3. Justice for Chantel Moore – Petition to pressure the Edmundston Police Force to criminally charge the officer (whose name is yet to be released) with a count of second-degree murder. (CW: the petition page contains a photo of Chantel Moore – which her family has asked DO NOT be shared): 
  4. Petition to ban carding in Canada
  5. Petition to ban the use of tear gas in Canada
  6. Demand a police use-of-force database in Canada
  7. Latinx, Afro-Latin-America, Abya Yala Education Network (LAEN) #PoliceFreeSchoolsONWide Campaign
  8. COVID-19 RESPONSE & RECOVERY MUST ENSURE MIGRANT RIGHTS
  9. Sign-on to support the Criminalization and Punishment Education Project advocacy for Accommodations for Indigenous prisoners at the Ottawa-Carleton Detention Centre 

Templates:

  1. Defunding Toronto Police
  2. Demand wellness checks be removed from police jurisdictions 
  3. Justice for Chantal Moore email template to gov
  4. Call for Canada to immediately implement 231 calls for justice and UNDRIP
  5. Support All Prisoners Now – COVID-19 federal prison measures, 5 demands
  6. COVID-19 RESPONSE & RECOVERY MUST ENSURE MIGRANT RIGHTS – Email organizational endorsements to info@migrantrights.ca  

SKETCH has sent the following advocacy letters:

  1. Joint Platform A letter to Canada Council for the Arts, Ontario Arts Council and Toronto Arts Council, and Economic Development and Culture of the City, advocating for increases in funding to for Black Artists, Administrators, initiatives and organizations, sent June 16.
  2. To our community and to Mayor John Tory supporting the defunding of the Toronto Police Service budget, prior to June 29th Council meeting to vote on the Motion, sent June 25.
  3. Endorsement of Toronto Prisoners’ Rights Project Forum on Community-led Safety/Alternatives to Policing on June 20 on social media on June 19.

SKETCH will continue to write letters where it can for campaigns that will have impact. It will consider best how it can support community-led strategies first.

"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

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