Avoiding the Cultural Equity Blob

Posted by Lindsay Tucker So, May 23, 2016 0 comments

The topics of diversity, equity, and inclusion have gained momentum and are now positioned at the forefront of many conversations among organizations and arts administrators. From research reports to Twitter chats, from conference workshops to inter-office training sessions, members of the field have accepted the challenge of adapting to our country’s demographic changes and to adopting the language to improve how we engage diverse communities—as audiences and as employees.

However, despite these progressive and much needed efforts of equity and inclusion of diverse communities I am concerned. As a person of color, I am excited to see these topics become organizational priorities, but in many instances these efforts seem more suited as the step-sibling of “outreach” and “community engagement” rather than a conscious shift in organizational culture.

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Art + Culture EQUALS the Lakota Way of Life

Posted by Julie Garreau (Wičhaȟpi Epatȟaŋ Wiŋ), May 23, 2016 0 comments

When we talk about cultural equity in the arts, it's natural to think of the word "inclusiveness." Of course we want to pursue increased diversity, and we want to provide marginalized populations with better access to the tools and opportunities they need to fully live their best creative lives.

Inclusiveness is great. But we also need to remember that, for meaningful cultural equity, we're talking about far more than art. We're talking about the reclamation of culture itself.

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How Will You Live Cultural Equity?

Posted by Tiffany J. Wilhelm, May 23, 2016 0 comments

When I was asked to write a response to the Americans for the Arts Statement on Cultural Equity, my immediate reaction was that I know so many other artists and activists whose thoughts I would rather see in this space than mine. I still feel that way. But I also know that people with a significant amount of historical, societal privilege (mine happen to be that I’m white, cisgender, currently non-disabled, a U.S. citizen, grad-level educated, etc.) need to speak up in support of equity and justice. Silence supports the way things are, and I’m deeply committed to helping change that.

It’s essential that I acknowledge that my views below have formed over time by learning from many people whose words I’ve encountered at gatherings and meetings, in books, on screen, online, over email, over a shared meal, or mixed with late-night drinks. I’m deeply indebted to you all.

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Equity for Culture is a Moral Responsibility

Posted by Felix Padron, May 23, 2016 0 comments

Americans for the Arts understands the value proposition of all Americans having access to the arts. After all, "to increase access to the arts for all Americans" is coded in its mission. Americans for the Arts also knows that our nation's arts and cultural sector nurtures the same purpose. The mission and vision statements that guide our field embrace this collective idea, which is also embedded through our policies and practices.

Mission statements are meant to inspire and frame the services that are provided by organizations. They also help to establish an outline for grant makers that can influence the decisions of their investment. In this context, we know that the research in our field has revealed that equitable access is not balanced and is affecting a great number of small to mid-size arts groups. America continues to be a place with mounting social and economic divide y con mucho political drama.

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The Humble Step

Posted by Mr. Clayton W. Lord, May 23, 2016 0 comments

The pursuit of cultural equity is a journey of mountains and valleys, someone once told me.  It is a series of hard climbs, brief moments of celebration, if you’re lucky, and then the progression begins again.  It is the type of work we do against our comfort, because it is necessary.

The pursuit of cultural equity for someone like me—someone who had the luck and privilege of not being confronted by the inequities of this country for the first two decades of my life, and then did—is a series of moments of confronting parts of myself that go against the idealized person I strive to be (and sometimes the person I see myself as).  There is irony, and a disappointment, in catching myself using the term “pow wow” when leading a session on issues of equity.  There is irony, and a disappointment, in catching myself exerting my positional power in a conversation where I am in a disagreement with someone else about whether positional power is a thing. The irony, there, comes tinged with the pain of recognizing a part of me that is less-good than I want it to be.

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Navigating Big Transitions with a Creative Practice

Posted by Cat Corral, May 20, 2016 0 comments

Life is about change. In less than 3 months, the youth arts organization I co-founded ten years ago will be merging into a larger organization, and my role will change dramatically. As much as this has been a thoughtful and deep process of exploring, analyzing, and talking through all the parts of this merger, there are moments when I get nervous and rely on my creative practice to help me stay grounded. At this point in my career as an arts leader, I am certain that the tools I use as an artist are critical for any leadership role.

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