View in browser

June 19, 2020

The Movement for Black Lives calls for action. We lift up the names and spirits of Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, George Floyd, and those whose names we have not yet learned, who have been killed by ongoing state-sanctioned violence.

As a national Network, Common Field calls out to the expansive field of independent visual artist organizations and organizers to use our collective platforms to organize for justice together.

Three months ago with the onset of COVID-19, we were challenged with reimagining the ways we work, gather and center care. In the midst of urgent uprisings, we are pushed further to name pathways that lead to the anti-racist, decolonized futures in which our work can most fully manifest. This work of undoing racism, decolonizing institutions and dismantling systems of oppression demands our immediate, ongoing and long-term commitment.

There is essential work to come for and from our field: to build new organizations that transform and sustain a new vision while dismantling systemic racism and white supremacy at large.

We aim to steward this initiative through two primary channels - the assembling and gathering of a national task force from our Network that will identify resources and develop a framework through which our network can implement this protocol; and the development, announcement and undertaking of an organizational plan of action.

We – members, board and staff of Common Field – advocate for actions that reach beyond statements of solidarity and affirm the ongoing work of our network members by:

  • Listening to our network and responding to the field’s collective needs to the best of our capacity.

  • Investing in structural anti-racist protocol and centering abolition as a key tenet of our organizing.

  • Moving beyond inclusion in programming to fundamentally transform culture, practice and resource-allocation within our Network.

  • Interrogating equity in funding while advocating for the need for reparations in our field.

  • Recognizing that the transformation of our field and organizations is urgent and is also an ongoing long-term process and commitment. 

As an organization, Common Field will continue to invest in efforts that result in structural anti-racist change by:

  • Enacting values both internally and to our communities, striving to create accountability, equitability and inclusivity for all. 

  • Participating in the movement to defund and disengage police in the communities in which we work and partner, including providing resources and tools for members of our field to take on this work. 

  • Updating Common Field’s core values to clarify our position on equity and justice with language and policies that are both more explicit and firmly rooted in our guiding principles.

  • Investing in additional leadership from Black, Native, and other individuals of color within the Common Field board and staff at all levels so we are more reflective of our field. 

  • Developing and enacting an equity plan with measurable goals in the areas of hiring, organizational culture, leadership and organizational transparency.

We invite members of both the Common Field Network and the expansive national field into this process. What can we learn from each other? Who can we learn from and partner with? What distinguishes our field and provides us with a unique opportunity to undertake this difficult work? 

Our society demands a radical new vision – and we believe that the independent, alternative ways in which we work creates space to actualize it. By simultaneously resisting oppressive institutional tendencies while foregrounding equity, mutuality and liberation, our field can provide one of many necessary catalysts forward. We hope you will join us on the journey ahead.

To initiate this action, we are committing to a redistribution of resources in our field via a $15,000 matching grant fund to ten Black artist organizations. 

In solidarity,

The Common Field Board of Directors and Staff

Courtney Fink, Co-Founder and Executive Director, Common Field (Los Angeles, CA)
E. Maude Haak-Frendscho, Convening Program Director, Common Field (Philadelphia, PA) 
Chris Tyler, Convening Communications Manager, Common Field (Los Angeles, CA) 
Dana Bishop-Root, Associate Director, Braddock Carnegie Library and member, General Sisters (Pittsburgh, PA)
Jackie Clay, Executive Director, Coleman Center for the Arts (York, AL) 
Matthew Fluharty, Executive Director, Art of the Rural (Winona, MN) 
Anne Focke (Seattle, WA) 
Eunsong Kim, Assistant Professor, Northeastern University (Boston, MA) 
Jessica Lynne, writer, art critic and co-founder and editor of ARTS.BLACK (coastal Virginia) 
sharon Maidenberg, Executive Director and CEO, Contemporary Austin (Austin, TX) 
Nat May, Executive Director and Co-Founder, Hewnoaks Artist Colony; Co-Founder, Common Field; and Program Officer, Arts and Music, Onion Foundation (South Portland, ME)
James McAnally, Founder and Executive Director, The Luminary and Founder and Editor, MARCH (St. Louis, MO) 
Aurora Tang, curator, researcher and Program Manager, Center for Land Use Interpretation (Los Angeles, CA) 
Sarah Williams, Co-Founder and Executive Director, Women’s Center for Creative Work (Los  Angeles, CA)
Martha Wilson, artist and Founding Director, Franklin Furnace (Brooklyn, NY) 

We acknowledge the design and development contributions from Wkshps and Systemantics.