In a recent article in Canadian Art, Leah Sandals summarized the disappointing findings of an extensive study by the Ontario Arts Council of continuing gender inequality across the arts in Canada. Called The status of women in the Canadian arts and cultural industries: Research review 2010–18, the study found that "across all sectors, women’s artistic and creative works receive significantly less public visibility (for example, productions or exhibitions) and recognition (awards) than those of men,” while also noting that gender-based income inequality is “a defining feature of work in Canadian arts and cultural industries." Although the focus of the study is gender inequality, a chart enumerating the number of solo gallery shows at "select major institutions" across Canada (see image) shows that this negative pattern intersects with other discrepancies and inequalities in terms of race, as well.
Clearly, there's a need for serious change. The problem is entrenched and challenging. And yet, we're also optimistic about the future. Our student cohorts are increasingly defined by significant diversity. And as these students pursue and develop their practices and lives in the arts after graduation, they will also help transform their arts communities and institutions from the ground up. To an important extent, this kind of change begins with places like us. It's also our responsibility to help foster this kind of necessary progressive change by empowering our students to challenge old systems and structures and to push for greater equity and equality in the arts – and beyond. It's a big project, and necessary, but not impossible.
Read the full report here.