By Meng Wei
The format that each entity takes within those three stages can vary, and like many other groups during the pandemic, Stride Art Gallery is taking 2020 as a “fallow year” to go through their own necessary cycle to realize the mandate of equity, diversity and inclusion from within the organization.
Being a non-profit artist-run centre since 1985, Stride Art Gallery supports artists through exhibitions, workshops, public programs, publications and various other platforms to the fluctuating needs of the art community. With the pandemic pausing most of their programming in 2020, Stride took the time to look deeply into their organization and started to make changes from within.
The current director Areum Kim said there have always been strong voices for a deeper conversation to “dismantle the legacy of a white institution,” but they never had the chance to digest it properly until the COVID-19 pandemic.
“If we were doing business as usual, I don’t think we would have had the capacity to change,” she says. “That was a moment to actually dissect everything we do beyond the roster of artists that we present.”
Stride onboarded Dan Cardinal McCartney and Eva Birhanu as new staff, and this current team signals a commitment to BIPOC representation within the institutional structure.
“I have learned a lot from them,” says Areum.
Stride is now holding conversations through the board to hear the intersectional needs of artists. The aim is to support the artists from each nuanced community with a better understanding and a culturally-specific strategy.
That conversation-style communication with the board has sent a welcoming message not only to artists but also other institutions to invite collaborations.
“We hear perspectives that really focus on Stride’s role, not just as a place that supports artists through exhibitions and programming, but also as an established institution—how many resources we have and how we can share those resources with emerging artists and other equity-seeking organizations while we’re doing the work of supporting artists.”
“We are realizing that to create a safe space, we need to go through a process that opens up sharing on a human scale without over professionalizing. It was really nice to be able to try out this new model.”
Stride is calling to emerging artists to join the board, prioritizing new perspectives that can be brought into the conversation.
“We have a new board now, and we are still trying to fill some gaps,” she says.