Recently (Doomed to Fail), I wrote about the essential increase in conversations about diversity, equity, and inclusion. I discussed the important role that commitment to community engagement can play in providing a foundation for an arts organization’s work.
More importantly, a succinct statement and commitment to equity and inclusion is essential for at least two reasons. Internally, it provides a common understanding for all stakeholders and serves as standard by which they (and others) can can judge how well the organization is doing. For external communities, who often have little or no experience with (and therefor little or no trust in) the organization, such a statement can serve as a tiny step in opening doors to dialogue. Actions will, of course, speak far louder, but DEI statements can serve notice that the organization is attempting to do the work.
This post is a response to the increasing number of such statements I am seeing. I’m not an expert in what they should include; I’m just pleased to see so many making the attempt.
The most recent one I’ve seen is from ArtsConnection in New York City:
ArtsConnection believes its community of artists, staff and board play a unique role in modelling the humanity in all of us. Because we value the arts as a universal language, we strive to create socially just learning environments that are reflective of the city’s demographics and that affirm and practice the values of equity, diversity, and inclusion through the various roles and responsibilities we have in all our work.
We respect all communities with which we work and strive for ongoing reflection on patterns of racism, sexism, heterosexism, cis-sexism, classism, ableism, nativism, ageism, religious, body type and other forms of discrimination and oppression that can negatively affect the young people in our programs.
The statement and AC’s mission and values can be found here: https://artsconnection.org/diversity-equity-inclusion-values/
The other statement I have recently seen was in my work with Erie Arts and Culture:
To support an enriched life for all, Erie Arts & Culture commits to championing policies and practices of cultural equity that empower a just, inclusive, and equitable region. We believe that equity is crucial to the long-term viability of both the arts and culture sector and communities-at-large.
Two things I particularly like about Erie’s statement is that it goes on to set forth categories for which they will establish annual equity goals and includes operating definitions of diversity, equity, and inclusion. (FYI, Erie’s statement was done before I did any work with them.)
I don’t advocate any particular statement as a template. I am simply pleased to see so many undertaking the effort and creating for themselves such a baseline of accountability.
The Holiday season is upon us. I wish you and yours well. I’ll be taking a few weeks off. Engaging Matters will return in the New Year.