FEMINIST ART CONFERENCE PHILOSOPHY
“The function of art is to do more than tell it like it is—it’s to imagine what is possible.”
The mission for the Feminist Art Conference (FAC) was inspired by the recent spate of attacks on women’s and transgender rights in Canada, the US and abroad. Issues such as rape culture, trans phobia, racism, violence, media representation, cultural appropriation, environmental degradation and impact on Indigenous lands, missing and murdered Indigenous women, and Islamophobic policies are areas of deep concern. These infringements on our right to agency and independence have been occurring in alarming numbers in our governments, in the media and in our communities. This conference provides an opportunity for these issues to be explored and communicated artistically in a unique and creative space that encourages sharing, creating and discussion. In the centuries old tradition of people organizing we believe that by coming together and communicating about these issues through our artistic practice, that we can initiate progressive change.
We aim to showcase like-minded, multi-disciplinary art including: visual art, film, theatre arts, music, dance, design, spoken word and literature. We will create a space that is celebratory, positive, intellectually engaging and provocative. We are committed to this space being trans inclusive, anti-racist, and intersectional. Furthermore, by providing an opportunity for feminist artists to meet and share their work, we believe we can provide opportunities for networking and future artistic collaboration that can inspire social change and empowerment. We have the vision that the ripple effect from this type of artistic sharing and learning can provoke positive transformations in both our communities and our minds.
THE WAY WE WORK
The Feminist Art Conference Toronto is a grassroots, not for profit, volunteered-based organization. While we actively seek and engage in a variety of partnerships, FAC functions as an independent base, not specifically affiliated with any corporation, university or non-governmental organization.
All planning for any FAC related activities and events happens through a general committee made up of a diverse group of academics, writers, artists, administrators, students, activists and parents. FAC embraces an intersectional and collaborative practice of feminist politics and reflects a committee of like-minded individuals. Participation in FAC organizing is done on a volunteer-basis, with tasks taken up by members with either related experience or interest in developing a new skill.
The FAC committee holds a general meeting once a month, with sub-committee meetings as required for event planning. We organize our yearly Conference under the following principles:
* We function as a not for profit organization committed to the support, collaboration and networking of feminist artists
* We commit to actively seeking both partnerships and submissions to the Conference with a diversity of artists and volunteers by researching and reaching out to variety of communities
* Conference planning is a non-hierarchical format wherein panels and issues are decided by artist submissions rather than imposed from the Committee
* The committee and conference seeks and remains open to critique and thoughtful consideration of how we organize and what we have presented in a commitment to the evolvution of our feminist practice
* The committee remains active in negotiating our roles as conference organizers in considering when we take the lead and when we step back and provide a supportive role in our artistic partnerships
* The FAC conference is committed to being a site of support and diversity for feminist artists
* The conference and all other FAC activities are committed to providing accessibility in terms of language, politics and mobility
Two-Spirit and Trans Inclusion Policy
As an organization, we are dedicated to making all of our events a safer space for two-spirit and trans people, particularly trans women, transfeminine persons and those who were designated male at birth (DMAB).
All two-spirit and trans people are welcome to attend and submit art content to our conference and events.
All two-spirit and trans people are invited to volunteer with our organization.
No forms of transphobia, transmisogyny and transantagonism will be tolerated and those who violate this policy will no longer be welcome to our events.
Safer Spaces Policy
This conference, event, and all affiliated programming is a designated “safer space”. We are making an explicit decision to prioritize voices of people who experience oppression. People attending this conference are asked to be aware of their language and behaviour, and to think about whether it might be offensive to others. This is not a space for violence, for touching without consent, for intolerance of religious beliefs or lack thereof, for racist, ageist, sexist, hetero-sexist, transphobic, transmisogynistic, ableist, classist, patriarchal views, or for any other behaviour or language that may perpetuate oppression. We want to encourage the expression of radically different opinions, choices and tactics, which means we must work hard not to silence each other. This means engaging with people outside of a “radical clique” and relating in honest and non-discriminatory ways. When we disagree, let us do it in a way where we can hear each other, and communicate with care while respecting and considering context.
Let us strive to go beyond tokenism and let us aim to explore and acknowledge the subtle (and not so subtle) forms of prejudice within the spaces we occupy, and tackle them head on. If you are being called out for something that may be interpreted as a discriminatory act, please understand that this does not imply that you are necessarily prejudiced, but rather, what was said communicated that form of value. Although it is important to respectfully reassess what was said, it is equally important to acknowledge that these difficult moments can be productive moments of learning and growth for all of us
By engaging respectfully at all FAC events, we can each do our part to maintain a safe space for everyone. Abuse and discrimination of any kind will not be tolerated at this event, nor will targeted harassment, assault, sexism, homophobic, transphobic or racist behaviour.
Things we can all do to create a safer space:
Respect people’s physical and emotional boundaries.
Always get explicit verbal consent before touching someone.
Be aware that raising your voice or other aggressive body language may be understood as abusive behaviour by others.
Respect people’s differing opinions, beliefs, and points of view.
Be responsible for your own actions. Be aware that your actions do have an effect on others despite what your intentions may be.
In attending this event, you are agreeing to behave in a manner that is compliant with the safer spaces policy. Any group or individual violating the policy will not be welcome at any FAC events. The Safer Spaces Policy articulates our stance in challenging an oppressive culture and emphasizing the empowerment of marginalized individuals.
QUICK FACTS FROM FAC 2013
* we received over 70 submissions from all over North America and had interest in FAC coming all the way from Colombia and Kenya.
* we were “sold out” one week after posting seats on Ebrite. We had 175 people in attendance.
*from our survey over 80% of the artists who participated said that they met an artist that they plan on collaborating with in the future
* 100% of the artists in the survey said that FAC was extremely important/useful for their professional development
* we had women contact us from Vancouver, Montreal and Calgary wanting FAC to come to happen in their cities. This speaks to the interest and importance of this type of event to feminist artists.
QUICK FACTS FROM FAC2014
* FAC 2014 was held at OCAD University ( Canada’s only Art and Design University )
* The FAC Committee was invited by the OCADU Student Union to hold FAC in the larger venue
* We doubled our attendance from FAC2013 with 350 attendees, and we were sold out in 5 days
* FAC 2014 included community partners presenting in the afternoon: Muskrat Magazine, OCADU Student Union, Shadeism, WordSpell and Bruxas
* 100% of the artists surveyed again said that this event was extremely important to their professional practice.
* 70% of our artists met an artist they are going to collaborate with the future
* 80% gained ideas and inspiration for new projects
“Without community there is no liberation…but community must not mean shedding of our differences, nor the pathetic pretense that these differences do not exist.”