Solidarity with Racial Justice Movements

June 15, 2020

ICA is committed to the work of anti-racism. We are also proud to showcase and support the work of black artists and makers. Like many cultural institutions, we have benefited immeasurably from black cultural production, but we need to do more to support the black community. In conversations over the last week our staff has encouraged the institution to recognize our flaws and our role in perpetuating systemic racism. We acknowledge that role and pledge to work within our organization to be more accountable and to commit to positive change. We are appreciative of our staff for being diligent about speaking to these issues, and for their work towards addressing how we as an institution can be more impactful in dismantling systemic racism.

In solidarity with the staff, we have agreed to be more accountable to our publics by taking these initial steps within our own institution.

We will:

  • Pause for a brief period of reparative “inaction” as an entire institution, to rest and regroup, and to self-reflect and educate. No public programming or activity will take place during this time.
  • Work with an independent firm to undergo anti-racism training for all staff in the next six months.
  • Build and repair relationships with the black community in Philadelphia, beginning with our neighbors in West Philadelphia, through community-driven programmatic and curatorial initiatives and regular meetings.
  • Engage in a dialogue within the university to re-evaluate ICA’s relationship to the Penn Police and to our colleagues who provide security at the museum.
  • Provide additional resources to expand our mentorship and professional development for all full-time staff with particular focus given to entry level/non-managerial staff and staff members of color.
  • Immediately establish a staff committee dedicated to issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion.
  • Develop a clear and thoughtful process for responding in a timely manner to critical events.
  • Provide conflict de-escalation training for staff.
  • Continue a regular internal discussion centered around anti-racist criticism, essays, literature, and other poetics.
  • Regularly report out on our activities and actions to the community.

We recognize that real change will take time, that we have a tremendous amount of work to do, and that this work will be long term and ongoing. We accept that responsibility and will work as an organization to reflect the values that we aspire to live by. We also welcome your critical feedback on these actions.

 

 

John McInerney
Interim Daniel Dietrich, ll Director
Institute of Contemporary Art
University of Pennsylvania

June 14, 2020

I am speechless. I am grappling with how to respond to yet more killings in the last week. Our hearts go out to Rayshard Brooks’ family for this senseless murder and this endless cycle of police brutality and racist violence. We mourn Dominique “Rem’mie” Fells, who was brutally murdered by an unknown person on Tuesday in Philadelphia and we mourn Riah Milton, who was killed in Ohio, two black trans women whose lives were needlessly taken from us. We mourn this endless cycle of hatred and violence of black lives. I’m angry and frustrated over what has transpired. I feel ashamed for our actions as a nation, our willingness to enact ongoing trauma to black Americans. This has to stop. This country has to change.

I continue to have larger conversations with our staff and we have been working on action steps we plan on taking as an institution. Please look for an initial statement of action from ICA tomorrow.

 

 

John McInerney
Interim Daniel Dietrich, ll Director
Institute of Contemporary Art
University of Pennsylvania

June 12, 2020:

As the Interim Director of ICA, I have been in constant internal dialogue with our staff and leadership over the last two days as we have prepared this statement. That dialog has taken significant time but it was critical to me to have those conversations. We are actively discussing our action steps for moving forward and we will be sharing those in the coming days.

The devastating events of the past week have been a reminder to all of us that ICA as an institution has an obligation to acknowledge the traumatic experiences of black communities. We unequivocally condemn racist actions and violence. We honor the lives of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Tony McDade and other victims, their families, and the countless lives of far too many others before them.

Moments like this make us painfully aware of both the limits of our reach and the greatness of the needs in our communities. These needs include justice and support. Despite our limits, ICA can advocate for access to opportunity and for the lack of fear that should be everyone’s right and has been due black people for too long.

As an art institution, ICA is committed to justice and equality. We are proud to showcase and support the work of black artists and makers and we have benefited immeasurably from black cultural production.

ICA is also committed to making art and culture free and accessible to all. Our efforts must align with equality and justice for the many communities of which we are a part, not only to artists, but to the many publics with whom we are in solidarity against anti-black racism and discrimination. We pledge to use the platforms we have available to us to listen and we welcome your suggestions on how to build a better, more equitable institution and a more just society.

 

 

John McInerney
Interim Daniel Dietrich, ll Director
Institute of Contemporary Art
University of Pennsylvania