TIFF is reflecting on how best to address the systemic racism that has long held sway in Canada’s institutions, including its arts institutions, including TIFF.
We recognize that TIFF’s mission “to transform the way people see the world through film” includes a responsibility to help open eyes to the quiet injustices some might have accepted as peace.
We commit to confronting the ways that Canada’s arts sector has reinforced systemic racism in programming, staffing, and audience engagement. We will connect our work against anti-Black racism with struggles for Indigenous sovereignty, including narrative sovereignty — the idea that stories are as central to Indigenous identity as land is, and control of those stories should be viewed in the same light.
For many years, TIFF has presented the best in Black cinema to audiences and engaged Black youth through learning programmes. More recently, we have supported Black filmmakers through our Industry Talent Development programmes. We have Black employees in senior leadership positions. At the same time, TIFF’s staffing, programming, and audience engagement lags far behind our Toronto community, where more than half of the population are Black, people of colour, or Indigenous. We are committed to change.
We commit to examining staff hiring, retention, and promotion, and representation on our Board of Directors. We will set diversity targets for 2021 and establish development and mentorship plans for all staff who want to advance in the organization. We will amplify our partnerships with key stakeholders, including government, corporate partners, Black creators, and Black community groups, to encourage more diverse audiences and programming.
We commit to working with studio partners to provide Industry programming for emerging Black creators and other marginalized artists. We will amplify our Media Inclusion Initiative by working to remove barriers Black journalists face, growing our mentorship programme, and connecting participants to talent and key stakeholders within the film industry.
As we move forward, we will stay open to suggestions and criticism. While our immediate focus is on the Black community, we will continue to engage all racialized communities. We will listen and learn as we go, working with our staff, Board, partners, donors, members, volunteers, filmmakers, other film festivals, and the industry. We will report on our progress in April 2021.
We consider ourselves fortunate to be working in film. Whether it’s a movie, a TV show, or a social media video, moving images are powerfully persuasive. We will ground our work in the belief that images matter.
Jennifer Tory, Chair, Board of Directors
Cameron Bailey, Artistic Director & Co-Head
Joana Vicente, Executive Director & Co-Head
Related: TIFF’s response to anti-Asian violence