A peer-led accountability program for arts institutions invested in improving racial equity sector-wide, Gendai CO-OP co-opts existing practices of a touring curatorial project, a research residency, an institutional audit, and a cultural consultancy process, as well as a co-operative model and a student co-op program. We facilitate a flexible and responsive supportive network between institutions that centre BIPOC perspectives and long-term investment for racial equity in the cultural sector. 

We are reimagining curatorial practice as a form of care for our peers, our collaborators, and our communities. Developed from colonial roots, museum practices centre around the acquisition and safe-keeping of objects. These priorities persist and are often met at the cost of the wellbeing of artists, coordinators, technicians, assistants, and support staff. Physical, intellectual, and emotional labour – esp. from marginalized groups – is thereby often exploited by arts institutions. Racialized artists – their bodies and work – are instrumentalized for optics and performative allyship. If institutions are committed to decolonizing, shouldn’t we pivot from approaches that value the consumption and display of objects over the care of peoples?

Gendai CO-OP is a research residency focusing primarily on introspective activities, such as organizing social and leadership activities to build trust and friendship with your BIPOC staff; analyzing institutional policies, programs, and assets from a decolonial perspective; and ongoing mentorship for BIPOC interns, volunteers, and entry-level staff.  

Gendai CO-OP is an institutional audit and cultural consultancy, encouraging institutions to set their own goals to improve racial equity throughout staff and board. Upon completion of the program, Gendai will award a Certificate of Cooperation contingent on the host institution's commitment to continuing to work together. This certification requires renewal and will expire without institutional progress. 

Gendai CO-OP is a touring curatorial project.  Get in touch for more information. 

gendaiclub [at] gmail [dot] [com]

The 2021–22 cohort is: Art Gallery of Burlington, Critical Distance Centre for Curators, Gallery TPW, Xpace Cultural Centre, and Gendai. 

This project is supported by the Canada Council for the Arts and the Ontario Arts Council.

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