Inclusion in Action Case Study: Art Gallery of Sudbury

Diversifying HR and Volunteer Policies: Activating Change in Small to Medium-Sized Galleries

Art Gallery of Sudbury


Preamble Our Story Learnings Moving Forward
Acknowledgements Contributors Resources Dig Deeper



In 2017, writer and curator Michael Maranda published an article in Canadian Art entitled “Hard Numbers: A Study on Diversity in Canada’s Galleries.” In this report, Maranda gathered data on upper management at 80 publicly funded galleries across Canada. His rationale for selecting this sample was to better understand the diversity of “those with more control over the shape of the galleries’ programming.” To do so, Maranda examined demographics amongst this group based on gender, and identification as a visible-minority or as Indigenous, then comparing the data with public-funding trends, and national diversity censuses completed by Waging Culture (2012) and Statistics Canada (2011).  

Maranda found that “The entire pool of arts professionals in this survey consists of 184 persons, and of these, just shy of 92% are Caucasian, just less than 4% are Indigenous and just more than 4% are visible minorities.”

Maranda concluded his assessment with a pointed statement directed at accountability at the boardroom management level.  

In the end, it is the boardrooms of these institutions that must be held accountable. They set conditions of representation within the galleries’ programs through their hiring. It, perhaps, should come as no surprise that diversity in the boardrooms of Canada (a population somewhat equivalent to the pool of candidates for the boards of, at least, the larger galleries) is similarly unrepresentative of Canada at large. In 2016, for example, a mere 4.5% of board members at the 500 largest corporations in Canada were visible minorities, and a mere 0.6% were Indigenous.

For public cultural institutions to embrace Canada’s diversifying populations, we must also make an effort to embed inclusive and progressive hiring practices in Human Resources (HR) management policies and volunteer policies. Small, but focused changes in HR and Volunteer Policies can spur awareness within an organization and especially amongst hiring managers and committees.

The origin of Human Resource Policy dates back to the industrialization era, manufacturing, and production. Museums and galleries at their functional core must properly administer and support a safe and productive working environment for staff and volunteers to see projects to fruition. However, despite its assembly line origins there is opportunity to adapt traditional HR and Volunteer policies in a way that supports key recruitment, museological and gallery responsibilities, as well as professional development that will encourage the recruitment, hiring and retention of a talented and diverse workforce.

The benefits of a diverse workforce have been outlined in “Diversity Dividend: Canada’s Global Advantage.” Diverse organizations are better able to win and retain top talent, reach new markets, and improve customer orientation, employee satisfaction, and decision making, leading to a cycle of increasing returns. Studies have even shown that in cultural organizations, a one percent (1%) increase in workforce diversity is associated with a six percent (6%) increase in revenue.

Additional benefits:

  • Innovative and different ideas can emerge from a more diverse workforce.
  • Better community representation increases customer service and expands opportunities for different audiences and markets.
  • Boosts the organizations own image by promoting equality, diversity, etc.
  • Lack of diversity in volunteer and HR policies risks alienating current employees and encouraging an unwelcoming/hostile workplace.

The Art Gallery of Sudbury/Galerie d’art de Sudbury (AGS/GAS) will adapt simple and relevant procedures and revisions to the Employee Handbook (i.e. Human Resource Policy). The research is relevant for small to medium-sized galleries who face challenges related to limited staff resources and strict operating expenses. Throughout the development of the project, we acknowledged the following regional considerations: demographics, language, accessibility (physical and social), and geography (rural vs. urban). The organizational impacts include employees, volunteers, Board of Directors, funding initiatives, and museological implications.  

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Our Story

Mission: The Art Gallery of Sudbury / Galerie d’art de Sudbury (AGS/GAS) is a dynamic bilingual public visual art gallery and key art educational, cultural and tourism destination in Northeastern Ontario, creating meaningful engagement opportunities in dialogue with contemporary artists and our permanent collection for all who visit the gallery -- and beyond.

The AGS/GAS is located in Sudbury, Ontario in the traditional territory of the Atikameksheng Anishnawbek and is part of the Robinson-Huron Treaty (Vital Signs 2016, Sudbury Community Foundation). Home to a diverse and expanding population, it was reported in the 2016 Statistics Canada Census that of the 161,531 Greater Sudbury residents:

  • 25.35% identified French as being a mother tongue language
  • 9.25% identified as Aboriginal
  • 3.7% identified as being a Visible Minority (South Asian, Chinese, Black, Filipino, Latin American, Arab, Southeast Asian, West Asian, Korean, Japanese, Visible Minority, Multiple visible minorities)

      (Census Profile, 2016 Census, Greater Sudbury, City [Census subdivision], Ontario and Ontario [Province])

Greater Sudbury was the only population in Northern Ontario to increase (0.8%) since the 2011 Census data was released. Driven by the diverse growth of student populations attending Laurentian University, College Boreal, and Cambrian College.

The AGS/GAS is a public art gallery and has been in continuous operation since 1967. The AGS/GAS strives to offer a work environment that supports bilingualism through public outreach, programming, and exhibition text. AGS/GAS front-line staff including receptionists, education coordinators, and marketing and media staff are fluent in both official languages.  

The AGS/GAS is committed to representing Sudbury’s demographics on staff by hiring and retaining permanent positions in coordinator and management roles. As of January 2018, there are five full-time, two part-time, and eight contracted staff:

  • 35% identified as being bilingual (5/14)
  • 7% identified as Aboriginal (1/14)
  • 93.3% identified as female (14/15)
  • 0% identified as a visible minority (0/15)

*figures do not total 100% as there is an overlap of females who identify as being bilingual and Aboriginal.

Section 2.10 of the AGS/GAS Employee Handbook (i.e. Human Resource Policy) outlines employment equity, safety, and expectations of both the staff and organization. Discrimination and harassment are never tolerated in the workplace. The Employee Handbook outlines the following distinctions as discriminatory topics: race, ancestry, place of origin, colour, ethnic origin, citizenship, creed, marital status, sex, sexual orientation, family status, handicap, age (when 18 or older), a record of offences, same-sex partnership.

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Learning Symbol, notepad and pencil in a circle Learning Symbol, notepad and pencil in a circle Learning Symbol, notepad and pencil in a circle

Learning #1

Collecting consistent and relevant quantitative data 

Collecting and analyzing consistent and relevant quantitative data will illustrate diverse representation within your organization. Consult with current staff, Board Members, and volunteers to tailor a survey that supports organizational strategic goals. It is important to define what, how, and why data is collected.

Please note, disclosing equity and diversity data is always voluntary. Treat each survey result ethically by not disclosing individual identifiers. Furthermore, survey results will be managed (recorded, analyzed) by senior staff.

Diversity Statistics Directives can be embedded directly in the HR and Volunteer Policy. Policy clause considerations:

  • State how data is collected.
  • State why data is collected.
  • Outline how data is analysed.
  • List who manages the data and confidentiality.  
  • Confirm when data is made available to the public.

*See Art Gallery Sudbury example Employee Survey Template 

Learning #2

Defining relevant terminology

As society progresses into a more inclusive environment, terminology also advances.  Ensure members of your organization are aware of current terminologies related to diversity and inclusion.

Defining barriers in the HR and Volunteer Policy extends to listing consequences to barriers and providing proactive solutions. Incorporating inclusive language in HR and Volunteers Policies can:

  • Educate and influence upper-management with decision-making processes and hiring practices.
  • Provide safeguards for employers and employees.

A simple way to achieve this is supplying a glossary of terms in your HR and Volunteer Policy. *See the glossary of terms we created.


Learning #3 

Mirroring regional demographics with organizational representation

Analysing regional demographics using reputable sources (Statistics Canada) illustrates the culture and community of your region. In Sudbury, for example, the 2016 Statistics Canada census determined of 161,531 residents: 25.35% identified French as being a mother tongue language; 9.25% identified as Aboriginal, and 3.7% identified as being a Visible Minority.

Making real efforts to, at the very minimum, mirror regional demographics with upper-management and staff ensures that a variety of voices are heard and considered.



Moving Forward

  • Implement changes to the HR and Volunteer Policy. Including:
    • Incorporating voluntary survey, activating data analysis.
    • Promoting diverse language within the HR and Volunteer Policy.
    • Seeking qualified and diverse Board Members, staff, volunteers.
  • Present changes and suggestions to the HR Committee and Board of Directors.
  • Review Diversity and Inclusion Survey result with upper-management.
  • Use survey results to influence the hiring and retention of staff and volunteers.
  • Monitor the need for further updates to the HR and Volunteer Policies, as necessary.

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We would like to thank City of Greater Sudbury council, staff, and volunteers who strategized, adopted, and continue to implement the Greater City of Sudbury Cultural Plan 2015-2020. We would also like to thank city staff, and volunteers who contributed to “The Diversity Thrives Here!” a municipal Diversity Plan for the City of Greater Sudbury (2005).

We would also like to thank the Art Gallery of Sudbury/Galerie d’art de Sudbury Board of Directors, sub-committee members, volunteers, and staff who continuously encourage, embrace, and foster an inclusive environment within the gallery and community at-large.





Headshot, Deanna Nebenionquit


Collection Manager | Curator Alternate, Art Gallery of Sudbury/ Galerie d’art de Sudbury

Deanna Nebenionquit is Anishinaabe from Atikameksheng Anishnawbek, formerly known as Whitefish Lake First Nation. Since 2014, Deanna has curated a number of exhibitions for the Art Gallery of Sudbury | Galerie d’art de Sudbury including: For Better or For Worse: The Comic Art of Lynn Johnston; Darlene Naponse’s bi mooskeg | surfacing (2016 Exhibition of the Year Under $10,000 by the Ontario Association of Art Galleries); and Mariana Lafrance’s to not be so lonely | À boire sans soif.








Visitor Services and Operations Coordinator, Art Gallery of Sudbury/ Galerie d’art de Sudbury

After a number of years working in the visitor services department at the Canadian Museum of History (former Canadian Museum of Civilization) in Gatineau, Taddrick moved back to his hometown of Greater Sudbury. Since 2014, he has worked at the Art Gallery of Sudbury | Galerie d’art de Sudbury where his tasks include visitor services and sales.

Advisory Committee Member

Headshot, Cheryl Blackman

Advisory Committee Member

Headshot, Shelley Falconer


AVP Audience Development, Royal Ontario Museum


President and CEO, Art Gallery of Hamilton

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Art Gallery Sudbury Emplyee Survey Template 

Art Gallery Sudbury HR and Volunteer Glossary



Dig Deeper

Community Mapping Tool: Mapping At-Risk Communities in Canada

Gender inequalities in the workplace: the effects of organization structures, processes, practices, and decision makers’ sexism. Cailin S. Stamarski and Leanne S. Son Hing 

Public Service Alliance of Canada, 2017 National Equity Conference (Workshop Handouts)

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This resource was made possible by the generous support of the Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration Partnership Grant Program.