Kira Wisniewski is working to make Wikipedia a more equitable space

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When Art+Feminism was founded in 2014, its goal was to address the fact that less than 10% of Wikipedia contributors identify as women, reflecting a long tradition of male gatekeepers in the art world. They have launched edit-a-thons to write into the public archive the art-centric stories and accomplishments of cisgender and trans women, as well as non-binary people and people of color.

Since then, more than 100,000 articles have been created or improved. The global nonprofit’s outgoing director, Kira Wisniewski, formerly the operations manager of the National Women’s Studies Association, ensures that the same ethos is enduringly reflected in the rest of their work. She also co-organizes CreativeMornings/Baltimore and sits on the board of the local Awesome Foundation.

In an effort to bridge the online content gap, how many entries do you think need to be written to make Wikipedia a fair space?
This work will never end… Locally, we have held events at the Enoch Pratt Free Library and the Walters Art Museum, and this year we held events in over two dozen languages ​​and we work in three dozen countries. The reach is exciting and we are excited to work with this network of information activists. Wikipedia is consistently among the top ten most visited websites in the world. If there are absences in Wiki, it reverberates throughout the Internet.

How can people get involved in this activism?
It can be as simple as coming to an edit-a-thon, and because of the pandemic, many of them are virtual. We have resources for people to organize their own events because we are running a do-it-yourself and do-it-yourself campaign. We provide the tools for people to organize their own events. We believe that people in their community know their community best.

You also volunteer with several Baltimore-based nonprofits, including the CreativeMornings speaker series and the philanthropic Awesome Foundation. Can you tell us about your work with these organizations?
CreativeMornings/Baltimore is one of more than 200 monthly chapters around the world. We follow the mantra that everyone is invited and everyone is creative. My friend Mario Brandhorst and I are co-organizers and interested in having speakers who may not traditionally have a bigger platform…The Awesome Foundation is nothing on paper; it is mutual aid. It’s a group of people who each give one hundred dollars a cycle and then we give it, no strings attached, to a candidate who does something great in Baltimore. We’re looking at whether a project could get more traditional funding versus a project that probably won’t happen without that thousand dollars.

You have so much energy. Do you plan to create other organizations?
Nothing I do is a one-woman show. I am a very collaborative creature and I couldn’t do anything without the help and collaboration of others. A lot of [that] the job is not to start new things but to join things. As writer Sara Clugage so aptly put it, “There’s not much glory in joining things, but that’s really where a lot of the good work happens.”

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