Boards First

Posted by Mitch Menchaca, May 26, 2016 0 comments

Cultural equity is a significant charge for every arts organization to strive for in their work. The choral community that I work in is committed to expanding its diversity, including language, ethnicity, race, and religion, as well as crosscutting characteristics such as gender, sexual orientation, and range of ability and age. Choruses are building community from the inside out, focusing on the rehearsal room as a first step to building a healthy and vibrant arts organization that can create a feeling of community for its audiences and beyond.

But where does cultural equity begin in a field that attempts to be intentionally inclusive, rather than deliberately exclusive?

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Disability – We Need to Keep Speaking Up!

Posted by Beth Prevor, May 26, 2016 0 comments

I've been asked to write something about the Americans for the Arts statement on Cultural Equity. First, thanks for asking. I believe statements like this are important to set a tone—to set a standard by which we create a core set of values necessary to create a society that honors and respects the differences we all possess. I will also say that these are my thoughts; I've learned that I can only speak for myself and much of what I want to say is food for thought, something to consider.

I am a member of a historically underrepresented group. I am disabled. I say that with pride in my identity, something that I was not always able to say. I also have to say that I sometimes get a bit frustrated by the dialogues that seem to be continuing but not always moving at the speed I'd like to see it move at and especially for not always including members of my 'peeps' in the discussion.

 

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Daisy, Hoke, and an Equity Ethos

Posted by Linda Essig, May 25, 2016 0 comments

This essay is cross-posted on Linda Essig’s blog, Creative Infrastructure

There’s a line in Alfred Uhry’s play Driving Miss Daisy that has stuck with me for the last 30+ years. In response to a well-meaning, but misguided (and forgotten) comment by Daisy, an elderly, White, Jewish, southern widow, to Hoke, her equally elderly Black chauffeur, Hoke replies, “How do you know what I see unless you can look out of my eyes.” I heard the play at least 50 times over several years serving as its associate lighting designer on numerous companies but that is the only line I remember today. I remember it because it is foundational to the development of my personal ethic of cultural equity. In one way or another, Hoke’s reminder that we all have unique, individual, and valuable perspectives formed by unique, individual, and valuable lives informs the way I interact with students, colleagues, board members, artists, neighbors, and all the other people with whom I interact who neither look like me nor believe what I believe.

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All Things Being Equal

Posted by Mr. Ken Busby, May 25, 2016 0 comments

“To support a full creative life for all, Americans for the Arts commits to championing policies and practices of cultural equity that empower a just, inclusive, equitable nation.”

This week, Americans for the Arts released this statement along with a detailed explanation of how it came into being, and why it’s important. You can find all the details here. I was pleased to be one of the 150 participants who gave input on the statement, helping craft a message that is in line with my work in the arts and arts education–to make the arts accessible to everyone, regardless of race, gender or socioeconomic circumstances.

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A Statement on a Statement

Posted by Ruby Lopez Harper, May 25, 2016 0 comments

Statement: a definite or clear expression of something in speech or writing. 

I am a mother of three beautiful bi-racial children; what that also means is that I am a woman and I am Mexican. I am a Libra. I am an employee of Americans for the Arts. I am a warrior. And I get a little scared sometimes. Once I got over the initial shock of being asked to write a blog about the newly released Statement on Cultural Equity—I panicked—full anxiety attack panic. Then I took a breath and I said yes. I was honored and humbled and terrified. What if I felt the "wrong" thing? What if I said the wrong thing? What if I didn't believe in or resonate with the statement despite knowing what was going into the writing of it and why it was happening? After getting the invitation to write a blog, I read the statement over and over—reflected on it and about it—spoke with friends and family about my struggles with inequity—workshopped phrasing and concepts and ideas...then on a flight to New Mexico—I opened my laptop to write…

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Getting Beyond Fairness

Posted by Karen Gahl-Mills, May 25, 2016 0 comments

I grew up as a white kid in the middle class—and rather racially homogenous—suburbs.  My father is a minister (as were his father and his grandfather), and the lessons embedded in the biblical teachings of “love thy neighbor” were taken to heart in our house.  My values were shaped to include service, fairness, and the responsibility to help others, particularly those in need.  From an early age, I also was aware of the inequities that existed between races, and I sensed that people of color hadn’t gotten a fair shake.  But I truly believed that, if I loved my neighbor as myself, and if I ensured that my neighbor was given an equal chance to succeed, things would change.

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