The following anti-oppression statement describes the festival’s anti-racist and inclusive values.

Art Matters recognizes and seeks to challenge the pervasive forces of institutionalized oppression by creating safe art spaces for artists and community members alike. We are committed to using our privilege as an organization to address systemic oppression and colonial practices.

We strive to promote values of inclusion, respecting differences of ethnicity, gender identity, sexual orientation, mental or physical capacity, age, religion, economic or social status, political ideology, and identity. Since 2018, we have been working towards being more intentional about applying anti-oppression frameworks to our programming.

We ackowledge that this is an ongoing endeavour and are committed to learning from our allies, recognizing that everyone is capable of (re)producing systemic violence to ascend hierarchical structures.


The following questionnaire aims to foster reflexivity within and beyond the Art Matters community by giving examples of how oppression may manifest itself in individual and collective art practices.

1. Are you able to perceive the difference between intention and impact?

We hope so

2. Are you willing and able to prioritize the voices of those experiencing the impact of your work?

You better

3. Does your work allude to forms of violence that are systemically perpetrated against certain bodies?

If yes, that is part of systemic violence

4. If so, does it contribute to their reproduction and do encounters with your work evoke/provoke trauma for the bodies you seek to represent?

If yes, see 3 + this makes your work and the space of exhibition inaccessible

5. Does your work sensationalize traumatic events for the sake of shock value?

If yes, see 3 + 4 + you are taking advantage of marginalized people’s experiences and trivializing them

6. Do you believe that you regularily experience systemic privileges?

Surprise! The answer is always yes. Follow up question: Which ones?

7. Are you telling someone else’s past, present, or future story in your own voice while your own embodied experience and cultural references differ from this person’s? Does this act contribute to the commodification, marginalization, and fetishization of a given culture, its symbols, aesthetics, etc.?

If yes, that’s appropriation

8. Are you transposing racialized narratives onto white bodies, or transposing white narratives onto racialized bodies?

If yes, that’s whitewashing

9. Does your work include stereotypical imagery that is uncritical of its origins?

If yes, see 3

10. Do you use words like “intersectional” and/or “anti-oppressive” to justify problematic themes in your work?

If yes, that’s deflection


* We uplift the voices of under-represented artists so that all students see themselves reflected in our festival programming;

* We identify and challenge barriers to our programs and services;

* We encourage thoughtful, carefully considered conversations about anti-oppression and decolonization with our members;

* We build our capacity and the capacity of our network to challenge unequal distribution of power and biases that lead to oppression;

* We support artists and educators who thoughtfully engage with traditional knowledge and stories in context;

* We do not provide services to artists who practice cultural appropriation;

* We do not encourage or promote works that are culturally unsafe and perpetuate systems of oppression;

* We provide staff, board and volunteers with anti-oppression training tailored to their role;

* We ensure staff, executives, board members and volunteers can challenge oppressive and colonial practices without harassment and discrimination;

* We develop and improve policies to serve our commitment to anti-oppression.