Over the past two weeks, AS220 shared announcements about our “Rebuilding Community and Trust” session about reopening our AS220 Industries program during the pandemic, which was going to be part of national arts network Common Field’s 2021 Virtual Convening.
Our description of this session contained language that diminished and erased the work of former AS220 Industries staff members, several of whom were Black Femmes, who were pivotal in laying the groundwork for the transformation that is taking place within the program today.
We deeply apologize to the former Industries staff members who reached out, and thank them for the emotional and intellectual labor they so generously offered us in giving this feedback. We also apologize to any other former staff who were hurt by our description. We know that AS220 staff, past and present, show up every day to keep this organization going, often with limited resources and in challenging circumstances.
We also know that our Black, Indigenous and Staff of Color, past and present, have been overwhelmingly generous in holding AS220 accountable for becoming an anti-racist organization. We are working to dismantle, repair, and build AS220 to be more justice-centered and this particular announcement erased a piece of the history of Black activism within AS220 and diminished that work. In our attempt to summarize our workshop offering, we did not contextualize the ways in which anti-Blackness and racism have made it virtually impossible for change to be made within the Industries program. In our dilution, we contributed to revisionist history and participated in erasure. We apologize that the words we used did not honor the labor and dedication of our former Industries staff, particularly QTPOC staff.
At this time, we will not be going forward with our “Rebuilding Community and Trust” session for Common Field’s Convening. On reflection, we realize AS220 is not ready to host this planned conversation, and that we need to continue repairing and building trust with our Industries community, particularly our QTPOC staff past, present and future. We have more work to do to fully understand the histories, perspectives and experiences of those involved in AS220’s Industries program before we invite the public into this dialogue more fully.
If you were planning on attending this session, we appreciate your interest and ask for your understanding about the cancellation. We hope that we can share what we’ve learned from this moment with you in the future AND that this pivot can be a learning opportunity for all of us to work at the pace of restoration. Often, stepping back and listening is the work of rebuilding community and trust.