Anti-Racism and Accountability Work
A.P.E. began in 1977 as an open space, with an intent to be made by what was made in it, by the people and their curiosities and imaginations who made themselves available. A.P.E. was for those who could see it and could find it. It was a space run by primarily white artists, with an intent to be accessible and open to all (if they knew about it and could find it). The space and endeavor was financially supported by its founder, Gordon Thorne, a quiet, private man who believed that spaces for the imagination must be created, protected, and shared, and who had a vision for an attempt at a different economy and valuation system from the status quo.
With the loss of its founding director, Gordon Thorne, in 2018, A.P.E. is in a process of transition, reflecting and reorganizing with an eye toward the organization’s future. In this process, there is a continued commitment to A.P.E.'s founding principles, including holding and providing space for imagination, innovation, and inquiry, remaining open to what might occur within its walls, and leaving time for artists to be in their process without the pressure for producing an art-commodity.
Simultaneously, we at A.P.E. are reckoning with the ways that A.P.E. has failed to make its resources adequately accessible to artists from diverse backgrounds, and the ways that the culture of the organization has mirrored and perpetuated white supremacy culture by hiring primarily white staff, by showing the work of primarily white artists, lacking transparency in its decision-making structure, and not prioritizing outreach to artists and audiences beyond our immediate networks. A.P.E. is reckoning with its history of exclusion, and is in the process of implementing outreach strategies, recognizing the barriers that marginalized artists face, and our institutional responsibilities in helping to mitigate those barriers. With our new co-inhabited space at 33 Hawley St (with Northampton Open Media and the Northampton Center for the Arts), we understand that we must ensure that this space, along with the gallery space at 126 Main St., are spaces in which artists of all races, genders, abilities, class backgrounds, religious affiliations, and ages must feel safe, welcome, and vehemently encouraged to fill with the expansiveness of their questions, creative expressions, identities, and experiences.
To this end, A.P.E. commits to the following statements:
- A.P.E. will be responsive and adaptive to the evolving challenges of the present, and to artists' changing and evolving needs—including/especially those artists who are positioned at the margins of mainstream access to resources due to the interlocking oppressive systems of white supremacy, patriarchy, capitalism, and ableism.
- We commit to standing in solidarity with Black Lives Matter and with the resistance of Black people in the U.S. to long-standing violence and structural oppression.
- A.P.E. commits to solidarity with indigenous peoples and to learning more about native people, specifically the cultures of Nipmuc and Pocumtuc people, whose land we are situated on.
- A.P.E. re-commits to its founding principle of openness in the forms of organizational transparency, listening, and engaging in active feedback processes with artists and local communities.
- A.P.E. commits to being artist-run and artist-centered.
- A.P.E. commits to being a dedicated home to multiple perspectives, widening webs, interconnections, and expanded access for BIPOC artists.
- Alongside concrete action, learning, and change, A.P.E. commits to being a space that values the unknown and the ineffable.
- A.P.E. commits to leaving time for the fallow.
As an artist-run space with no distinct board of directors, we rely on you, the community, to help hold us accountable to the above statements. We welcome your feedback, and are so very grateful for your ongoing engagement and support.
Available Potential Enterprises (A.P.E.)
-Anne Woodhull, Executive Director
-Kathy Couch, Co-director/Steward
-Mollye Maxner, Co-director/Steward
-Meredith Bove, Program Coordinator, APE@Hawley
-Lisa Thompson, Board member