statement

In the wake of the global #metoo movement, we artists and people working in the arts in Belgium, have turned to our communities to talk about sexism and abuse of power in our workplaces. We have collected dozens of testimonies on harassment and discrimination that are evidence of a web of oppression accross the Belgian creative industries and arts economy. Our combined experiences show that the practice of power abuse is not only recurring here; it is systemic.

To those who have spoken out, we hear you, we believe you, and we stand by you.

The time has come to express our outrage. By signing this statement we show our commitment to join a worldwide movement to end harassment, violence, discrimination and abuse of power.

We engage as artists

We sign, because we acknowledge the reality of sexism and sexual harassment in our respective fields. We do not need to have personally experienced harassment to know that others have. We stand in support of our peers who have been groped, bullied, humiliated and violated.

We apologize for the times we have failed to show solidarity. We will reevaluate and deepen our practice of care and empathy. We will listen, and we will act when needed. We will remain open-minded and patient as we sustain this complex conversation. We will collectively work against any form of intimidation with zero tolerance towards any degree of violence.

We recognize the precarious working conditions in our field that make many of us susceptible to both exploitation and abuse. We will inform ourselves of our rights and we will defend them – not only for ourselves but for the most marginalized of our peers as well. Gender inequality is but one feature of the intersectional systems of oppression that hold toxic power relations in place. We fight against sexism and any other form of discrimination.

We will no longer be bystanders. We will engage!

We engage as an institution

We sign, because we acknowledge our roles in the distribution of power. We might not have always been aware of the widespread issues of power abuse and sexual harassment. For this lack of attention and care, we apologize.

We will improve the procedures dealing with issues of harassment and discrimination. We will make sure that all employees including freelancers know that when they speak up, they will be heard. We will no longer tolerate abuse of power by our directors, managers, promoters, curators and artists. From now on, institutions will be places where fair art practices are supported and celebrated.

We stand in support of the demands of the art communities we represent and will engage in transparent and constructive conversations. We will listen to feedback and make structural changes accordingly. We will evaluate our internal structures and the diversity within our programs with greater representation of minority groups.

We have read the guidelines suggested in the tools-section of this website and will apply them.

We will no longer be bystanders. We will engage!

We engage as art educators

We sign, because we will no longer see art education as simply a ‘reflection’ of the professional field. Instead, we will acknowledge it as a place of possibility and change that shapes our future.

We will address boundaries between the intimate and the public, the private and the professional. We will acknowledge the vulnerability of the relationship between educator and student. We will advocate for equality, solidarity and diversity on every level. We will offer all students the education they need and deserve.

We will provide our students with the tools to critically evaluate silencing, sexism, racism, exoticism and orientalism. We will listen to our students and create a safe environment for their concerns. Any complaint of intimidation, harassment, or manipulation will be taken seriously and will have repercussions.

Favouritism, humiliation and bullying are not techniques to teach, but strategies to oppress and control. Evaluations based on interpretations of students’ personalities are not helpful for learning. We will revise staff, curriculum and external relations according to gender equality and diversity. We will no longer tolerate colleagues who abuse their power.

We will no longer be bystanders. We will engage!

We engage as spectators

We sign, because we will no longer applaud sexism, racism, or any form of discrimination in art. We have had enough of art that celebrates inequality. We demand that institutions support work that is created safely and in good labour conditions. When we see art that perpetuates harmful representation, we will speak up and stand up.

We will no longer be bystanders. We will engage!

We engage because we crossed the line

We sign, because we crossed the line. We understand that according to the definition of sexual harassment, we may have either willingly or unwillingly pushed our colleague’s boundaries. By recognizing these actions, we actively engage in this conversation. We will apologize. We will face consequences when our actions show patterns of abuse and/or have caused severe damage to others.

SIGN

Send your name and your preferred professional description to contact@engagementarts.be. Your name and occupation will appear in the column next to the statement.