The letter from the Chair of Art Windsor Essex, formerly Art Gallery Windsor, is below:
June 30, 2022
Dear Linda Saxon,
We received your request, sent on June 28 to Executive Director Jennifer Matotek, to have the Board respond to your concern around the ‘Group of Seven: Not Formed in a Day’ ten-day pop-up exhibition, being displayed in a space that is not wheelchair accessible. AWE regrets hosting this exhibition in a space that is not accessible in Amherstburg. AWE will host ‘Group of Seven: Not Formed in a Day’ and the accompanying programs in our accessible exhibition spaces at 401 Riverside Drive West in Fall of 2022.
Art Windsor-Essex takes several factors into consideration when making decisions around programs. AWE’s strategic plan for 2021-25 notes that the gallery will seek to be “an accessible home for contemporary culture and critical conversations”. It also notes that we will work to strengthen our relationships with stakeholders, and conduct work throughout Windsor-Essex. Presenting programs in partnership with community members is a key part of AWE’s plan to become more community-driven. AWE’s exhibition, education and public programs policy also endorses AWE to undertake offsite partnerships for the purposes of audience engagement, and to support the achievement of artistic objectives. AWE also undertakes partnerships when our overarching goals for a program align with those of community visionaries, such as Richard Peddie.
AWE presents hundreds of programs a year. AWE strives to present programs in accessible spaces, either physically or online. As AWE remains committed to fostering an inclusive and contemporary home for exhibitions and community programing, we ask for your patience and understanding that the organization operates within the broader systems of obligations that may conflict with our overarching accessible vision. As we move forward in operationalizing our new Strategic Plan in a meaningful way, we continue to learn from community members, advocates, and leaders.
We value the perspective you have brought forward. As we continue to live our values and undertake the objectives of our strategic plan, your feedback will be meaningfully addressed as we move forward and continue to consider what it means for the gallery to be an “accessible home”. AWE is in the process of drafting an accessibility policy and access plan. Feedback from community members like you will be important as we draft our policy and plan with support from our external accessibility consultation group, and industry experts.
Thank you for interest in the programs Art Windsor-Essex presents. In line with our dedication to becoming a welcoming person-centred, community-driven, organization, we welcome your advocacy and encourage you to become a member of AWE’s accessibility consultation group. We would value your input on the work we are undertaking around accessibility and access.
Victoria Little, Chair Board of Directors Art Windsor-Essex