AKIN CODE OF CONDUCT

Our intentions

Akin is a Toronto-based arts organization that provides access to affordable studio space for artists across the city and access to art-focused community programming for the public at large. Akin’s studios provide a working environment that maintains a friendly and inspiring atmosphere where people can work on creative endeavours and entrepreneurial undertakings of all kinds. Akin builds community through monthly exhibitions, art critiques, workshops, open studio events, gallery tours, exhibitions, as well as various other art projects.

Our intentions are to cultivate safer, more inclusive and accessible spaces that centre and support the most marginalized members of our communities. We aim to foster respect, collective responsibility and a vibrant sense of community.

Our values

Meaningful Inclusion
We are committed to both practices and a culture of meaningful access, engagement and consultation with the most vulnerable members of our communities. Meaningful inclusion in our work centres around approaches, programming and spaces that are informed by the communities they’re intended for. Meaningful inclusion is rooted in anti-oppressive practices and empathy. We understand that oppressive systems are by design, and we believe that it is possible to design more inclusive and compassionate spaces and communities with the leadership of those who are most impacted.

Open Communication
We value direct, clear, empathetic and accessible communication between all stakeholders of our organization, and among our membership. We continue to cultivate robust channels for communication, feedback and evaluation to improve member experiences, build safer spaces and foster practices of accessibility.

Transparency & Accountability
We are committed to practicing accountability among our membership, our stakeholders, our staff and our community at large. We recognize that transparency and accountability foster meaningful relationships and contribute to building trust. Our policies on accountability and transparency are anchored by public reporting, community engagement and consultation from stakeholders and advisory/governing bodies.

Brave Spaces
We are committed to fostering spaces, both physical and digital, in which we are courageous enough to engage with one another, to acknowledge our mistakes, to share our learnings and to be accountable for our language, behaviour and choices. Brave spaces centre around accountability over guilt, addressing problematic behaviour over fragility and community resilience through a collective sense of responsibility.

Consent
We believe in and practice consent - which is freely given, well informed and can be withdrawn at anytime when engaging and interacting with each other. Consent applies to touching (including hugging, pats, handshakes, intimate contact etc…) personal space and belongings (using supplies/entering the studio space of another member). Consent is mandatory in all interactions. When in doubt, ask clearly, listen carefully and communicate clearly.

Anti-discrimination and Anti-oppression policy
Akin, it’s staff, members, volunteers, board and all aspects of its operation and at all levels of the organization shall not tolerate acts of oppression and shall address any intentional or unintentional acts of oppression towards an individual or a group of people that creates barriers to access or inclusion; and/or any discriminatory behaviour or language on the basis of:

  • Race or colour  

  • Ethnicity  

  • Ancestry  

  • Religion or creed  

  • Socio-economic class  

  • Sex  

  • Gender

  • Sexual orientation

  • Gender orientation/identity  

  • Receipt of public assistance  

  • Political affiliation

  • Level of literacy/education  

  • Citizenship/immigration status

  • Country of origin  

  • Mental health status  

  • Age

  • Type of housing  

  • Neighbourhood of residence  

  • Language  

  • Family status  

  • Health status  

  • Ability

  • Personal characteristics  

  • Record of offences

  • Any other protected status under federal or provincial legislation

As part of our commitment to implementing anti-oppressive practices and policies, Akin engages in trainings and educational opportunities surrounding anti-oppression. Akin commits to anti-oppressive analysis when planning, implementing and evaluating programming and policy and in ensuring access to its spaces and services. Akin is dedicated to advocating for change, acknowledging that inequitable practices and access to resources create barriers for different communities. We aim to support work that confronts oppression in our society as a whole and be proactive with learning and prioritizing.

Anti Harassment Policy
Akin is dedicated to providing safe spaces, free from harassment and discrimination for our staff, membership and community, regardless of gender, gender identity and expression, sexual orientation, disability, physical appearance, body size, race, ethnicity, nationality, religion, age, language, socioeconomic standing, or otherwise. We do not tolerate harassment in any form. Those who are found to be engaging in harassment and discriminatory behavior will be subject to consequences outlined in our conflict resolution process, which may result in sanctions or a ban from all Akin spaces and programming, including social media and digital platforms.

This code of conduct applies to all Akin spaces, including our physical studios spaces, programming spaces, spaces used for our programmed events, and our social media and digital platforms.


Harassment includes, but is not limited to:

  • Offensive, derogatory, threatening, aggressive, or silencing comments (related to gender, gender identity + expression, sexual orientation, disability, physical appearance, age, language, body size, race, ethnicity, nationality, religion, socioeconomic standing, or otherwise).

  • Unwelcome comments regarding a person’s lifestyle choices and practices, including those related to food, health, parenting, drugs, and employment.

  • Deliberate misgendering or use of dead’ or rejected names.

  • Gratuitous or off-topic sexual images or behaviour in spaces where they’re not appropriate.

  • Physical contact and simulated physical contact (eg, textual descriptions like “*hug*” or “*backrub*”) without consent or after a request to stop.

  • Threats of violence.

  • Incitement of violence towards any individual, including encouraging a person to harm themselves or others.

  • Deliberate intimidation.

  • Harassing photography or recording, monitoring of activity

  • Sustained disruption of discussion, disruption of events, programs, or space functionality

  • Unwelcome sexual attention.

  • Pattern of inappropriate social contact, such as requesting/assuming inappropriate levels of intimacy with others.

  • Continued one-on-one communication after requests to cease.

  • Deliberate “outing” of any aspect of a person’s identity without their consent

  • Publication of private communication.

  • Violence, intimidation, stalking, cyber-stalking, or unwanted following of a person

  • Persistent, abusive, and non-constructive criticism regarding any project(s) any participant may show during an event, or program.

  • Persistent micro-aggressions  (see examples here) in the form of comments, jokes, questions or otherwise.

  • Inappropriate physical contact without consent.

  • Sexually demeaning imagery that is not contextualized within an art practice or critique.

  • Advocating or encouraging any of the above behavior.

Some Akin spaces may have additional rules in place, which will be made clearly available to participants/users of these spaces. These individuals are responsible for knowing and abiding by these rules.

Akin prioritizes marginalized peoples’ safety over privileged peoples’ comfort. Our team reserves the right not to act on complaints regarding:

  • ‘Reverse’ -isms, including ‘reverse racism,’ ‘reverse sexism,’ and ‘cisphobia’

  • Reasonable communication of boundaries, such as “leave me alone,” “go away,” or “I’m not discussing this with you.”

  • Communicating in a ‘tone’ you don’t find congenial, this does not include shouting or raising your voice at someone

  • Criticizing racist, sexist, cissexist, or otherwise oppressive behavior or assumptions

Reporting

If someone makes you or anyone else feel unsafe or unwelcome, please report it as soon as possible. Harassment and other code of conduct violations reduce the value of our spaces and events for everyone. We want you to be happy and safe. People like you make our spaces and events better for all.

We understand that speaking about the harm we’ve experienced is difficult and often traumatizing. We strive to honor the courage of those who come forward. As such, we have several avenues for reporting harassment, discrimination and inappropriate behaviour:

  • Anonymous Report [Digital]

  • Formal Report [In Person]

  • Formal Report [Digital]

Anonymous Report
You can make an anonymous by filling out the form found at www.akincollective.com/reporting

We can't follow up on an anonymous report with you directly, but we will fully investigate it and take whatever action is necessary to prevent a recurrence.

Formal Report
You can make a personal report by:

When reporting formally in person, our staff will ensure you are safe and cannot be overheard. They may involve other staff to ensure your report is managed properly. Once safe, we'll ask you to tell us about what happened. This can be upsetting, but we'll handle it as respectfully as possible, and you can bring someone to support you. You won't be asked to confront anyone and we won't tell anyone who you are.

Our team will be happy to help you connect with third party resources and supports including options for free counselling, support groups, mental health services and sexual assault supports.

Enforcement

Participants/users asked to stop any harassing behavior are expected to comply immediately.

If a participant engages in harassing behavior, depending on the nature of the complaint and the extent of the harm, complainees may be engaged in a transformative justice/mediation process, sanctioned or banned from Akin spaces, programming and digital platforms immediately.

Akin may seek the counsel and support of external consultants, educators, community leaders, support persons, mediation experts in the facilitation of conflict resolution, complaint investigations and healing/restorative work between our staff, members and other stakeholders.

If a participant engages in harassing behaviour, Akin retains the right to take any actions to keep the event a welcoming environment for all participants. This includes warning the offender or expulsion, whether temporary or permanent, from Akin’s spaces, events and programs. Members who repeatedly engage in unacceptable behaviour will face progressive consequences up to and including expulsion and a ban from Akin spaces and programming.

Our approach

Consultation: in the development of our policies, our strategic planning, and our programming

Community engagement: engaging our membership and stakeholders to receive input and foster a sense of inclusion

Making mistakes and learning together: we know we will make mistakes, we aim to acknowledge those mistakes, to learn from them and to reconcile the harm that results from them with the support of our community

Our process

When someone is harmed
Reach out and offer support. Contact our team, and we will do our best to support the member, staff, volunteer, student or stakeholder impacted. We centre a culture of care and empathy. Respect the boundaries of individuals who may not want your support. Consent and respect are central to providing meaningful support.

Empathy is our preference
We all make mistakes, and we all have different and unique lived experiences, this means we have to have substantial empathy for ourselves and others. We acknowledge that everyone makes mistakes, that those mistakes often cause harm to others and that intent does not equal impact. As such, we invite our members and stakeholders to acknowledge the mistakes we’ve made, so that we can be accountable for the harm and can help reconcile it in a way that centres those we have harmed. We don’t believe that people are disposable and we believe that responsibility and accountability and trauma-informed conflict resolution are key to fostering safe spaces.

What happens if there is a conflict?

What are the steps to resolve an issue?
Anyone asked to stop unacceptable behavior is expected to comply immediately. We are committed to a robust conflict resolution process in order to foster safe spaces for our members:

If you have any issues or concerns, please be aware of our process as follows:

1.   DIY: If comfortable to do so, we strongly encourage the parties involved to speak to one another directly - where safe and appropriate - as we have found that issues can often be resolved this way. If this approach is not possible, any issues or concerns can be escalated in the following ways:

2. An informal complaint: involves filling out a form which can be found here. An informal complaint is anonymous and will be taken seriously but does not involve an official investigation unless the matter is deemed to be serious.

3.   A formal complaint: Outlined in the anti-harassment policy above, a formal complaint is investigated and engages both the complainant and complainee directly. A formal complaint is a matter of record and often engages external consultants, elders and mediators.

4.   Mediation: This facilitated type of conflict resolution involves an objective third party. If mediation is deemed to be the appropriate process, a discussion occurs with someone from our staff and/or board in conjunction with the affected parties to select an appropriate trained mediator. Mediation may take the form of a healing circle, a transformative justice process, reconciliatory meeting(s), a facilitated conversation etc. Mediation may result in: removal from the space, permanent ban or further actions at the discretion of the Mediator and Akin.

Shared Space Policy

The nature of our spaces relies on respect, mindfulness and collaboration to foster a productive and safe space for all our members/staff.

Akin welcomes people of all genders, abilities, cultures and sexualities in this space. As such, any form of discrimination will not be tolerated. This can include but is not limited to: racist, sexist, homophobic, transphobic, fat­phobic or ableist comments, sexual harassment or bullying. Akin will not tolerate violence, theft, vandalism or any other harmful acts. We reserve the right to remove anyone creating an unsafe or unpleasant environment. We wish to make this a safe, welcoming and fun space for everyone. If at any time you are made to feel uncomfortable or unsafe please let an Akin staff member know.

Contact your studio manager, email us at support@akincollective.com or contact us anonymously through our online contact form at www.akincollective.com/reporting. Any concern brought to our attention will be taken seriously and initially addressed within 3 business days.

Though new mediums and practices will be welcome in the space, if it is determined that the practice is too disruptive in the co-working environment that we'll have to ask you to leave.

The guiding principles of Akin are that all Members must have general consideration for each other and for the collective space. If a member does not adhere to these guiding principles Akin’s directors/management, at its own full discretion, can revoke any membership at any time.

We do not tolerate abuse of any kind, which includes, but is not limited to yelling, bullying, physical abuse, threats, sexual abuse/harassment, intimidation, stalking or beyond. Members accused of causing harm (physical violence, intimidation or threats) will be removed from the space until the conflict is resolved as per our conflict resolution process.

We invite our members to exercise common courtesy, for example, taking loud conversations to more appropriate spaces away from work areas, avoiding strong scents and perfumes, and respecting personal boundaries and space. We also encourage open and friendly attitudes but we respect the need for boundaries and mutual respect.

Akin appreciates the support of the Ontario Arts Council's Compass Grant Program in the development of these policies.

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