Art vs. Racism, Privilege, and Displacement

Posted by Margy Waller, May 27, 2016 0 comments

Creating greater equity is urgent. This is the discussion we’ve been having at the New Community Visions Initiative convenings across the country. In these gatherings, we’ve focused (or tried to) on community goals as the outcome, and arts sector needs as a means to that end. Importantly, we’re talking about equity through art, not for art.

How do the arts contribute to creating more equitable places?

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Diversity in Local Arts Agencies: Findings from the 2015 LAA Census

Posted by Graciela Kahn, May 27, 2016 0 comments

In 2015, Americans for the Arts partnered with the National Endowment for the Arts to conduct the Local Arts Agency Census, the most comprehensive survey of the local arts agency (LAA) field to date. More than 1,000 LAAs responded to the survey on topics ranging from budgets and financial outlook to specifics about their programs and services.

In order to more clearly see the work ahead of our field in terms of diversity we included questions about board and staff demographics, diversity initiatives in LAA programs, and about formal diversity policies. The answers we received paint a complex picture, but in general, the demographic composition of LAAs show that as a field, we can do better in representing all our constituents.

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Reflections on Readiness and Resiliency

Posted by Ruby Lopez Harper, May 27, 2016 0 comments

On April 19, the National Endowment for the Arts hosted a convening of national thought leaders and practitioners to consider the increasing importance of work related to natural disasters, man-made disasters and civil unrest. “Readiness and Resiliency”: Advancing a Collaborative and National Strategy for the Arts in Times of Emergencies.

I was excited to be attending as an observer on behalf of the National Coalition for Arts Preparedness and Emergency Response. I had attended a preconference through Grantmakers in the Arts in 2014 in Houston. The preconference focused on the examination of the readiness, response, and emergency support systems for artists. It featured three artists and really centered around how the arts community responds to the effect of natural disasters on the lives of individual artists. It was, to say the least, so completely inspiring that I found the ideas and content integrating itself into the conversations I had with the local community in Columbus upon my return and for the time following.

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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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