What would it look like if the Region of Waterloo Arts Fund (RWAF) were equitable and accessible to all residents?
This is the driving question behind work RWAF began in 2021, trying to understand what changes we could make to ensure that the organization serves the needs of all local artists.
On April 12th, 2022, we received the Centering Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion: Needs Assessment and Recommendations Report, authored by Jenn Chan:
“This report is written as a digestion of the Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Consultant’s perspectives and recommendations based on a series of interviews and equity, diversity and inclusion sessions, one internally with the RWAF Board and two with Artists within the Region of Waterloo who identify as Indigenous, Black and People- of-Colour.” – Centering Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion: Needs Assessment and Recommendations Report, authored by Jenn Chan.
Since September 2022 Jenn Chan has been working with a group of local Advisors. Their work and recommendations are captured in the second report Moving Recommendations Forward. On January 19th the Board of Directors reviewed and accepted the follow up report and several of the recommendations found in this report will be applied to the Spring 2023 round of funding.
RWAF’s Board of Directors is committed to transparency about this entire process, its findings, challenges, and results. We have created a visual timeline, so you can see how we have been moving through this work. For a pdf version of this timeline, please click here.
We welcome your questions and inquiries. Please reach out to us at [email protected]
The changes RWAF is undertaking as of our Spring 2023 round of funding are in direct response to recommendations made in the Imagining Equitable Futures reports. You can view those here. We have prioritized those changes by answering the question: What can we change now to lower barriers for local artists?
To begin with, we are retiring certain practices and initiating others. Here are some examples:
Why Where Art Starts?
Where Art Starts, our new tagline, points to local and to new beginnings. Why? Because funding from RWAF is foundational to the region’s artists, whether they are just starting out, envisioning, experimenting, exploring new processes, or forging new collaborations.
Who does RWAF Fund?
Who is actually being funded? RWAF is joining other funders in collecting identity-based data of applicants. We will aim to post this data on our website following our Spring and Fall rounds of funding.
Why new funding streams?
Leveling the playing field…We have created two funding streams for artists and arts organizations—one for emerging and the other for established. Emerging creators will be eligible to receive more RWAF funding (up to $10,000) than the established applicants (up to $7,500). Why? Because the latter have a track record that often allows them to access to additional resources (other funders, sponsors, patrons, fundraising efforts. etc.) that emerging artists lack. To learn more about these streams, please click here.
Why Peer Reviewers?
Going forward, Board Members will no longer assess the applications; adjudication will be done by a group of Peer Reviewers, who will be paid to do this work. Compensating Peer Reviewers (formerly volunteer “Artists-at-Large”), brings us in line with most arts funders and respects the work and the time commitment required to review, score and make these funding decisions. For more information, please click here.
Composition of the Board of Directors
For the public to have confidence in a not-for-profit Board, there needs to be broad community representation among directors. In other words, the Board should look like the community it serves. At RWAF, that means renewing the Board by recruiting arts-and-culture supporters who reflect our community. To learn more about RWAF’s current Board of Directors, please click here; to learn about how to join the Board, please click here.
Who do I learn more about this process?
Transparency and openness are also key to maintaining public trust. We invite you to follow the EDI journey RWAF began in 2021 by clicking here!
Can I give feedback?
Responsiveness to community feedback is the reason we embarked on this entire journey. We invite you to tell us what you think by filling out this form.