For nearly three decades, we have worked as advisors to the field of arts and culture — a sector that has been complicit in upholding systems of cultural exclusion and disenfranchisement. Our field is principally a purpose-driven one, composed of organizations across creative disciplines dedicated to demonstrating and sharing the essential role and relevance of the arts in our society. And despite the efforts that many cultural organizations have made to reflect diverse voices in the art they promote and present, the truth of our sector remains: arts and culture has and continues to be a tool for the preservation of white culture and white privilege in the United States. We bear witness to this truth every day that we work, from the disproportionate whiteness of the rooms in which we consult to the presumed whiteness of the communities they exist to serve.
Black Lives Matter.
We, too, are complicit.
As thought partners to the field of arts and culture, we are often tasked with guiding organizations through moments of transition and transformation. We pride ourselves in our track record of advancing visions of diversity and representation among the clients we serve. We understood that to be a core pillar of our work. Yet, we failed to reckon with what the work of equity and inclusion truly implies — the dismantling of systems that privilege whiteness and the rebuilding of structures that are designed for all to thrive. The work is far from over, but we commit to holding the mirror up to our firm and to our field, as we all own our participatory role in the cultural oppression of the past and in the ongoing fight for racial justice.
The arts are at the center of culture and must also be at the center of change.
The arts serve a powerful role in our society as an outlet for making sense of the emotional and intellectual roots of human experience. The vast majority of leading arts and culture organizations in the United States present our collective human experience through the white gaze. True inclusion requires a commitment to reversing this fundamentally constrained and exclusionary view of culture. Embedding equity, inclusion and belonging as the guiding forces and foundation of the cultural organization only elevates the impact that the arts can achieve. Now, more than ever, our communities are seeking the connection, empathy, and truth-telling that the arts can so vibrantly provide. This is the work: urgent, sustained, and structural change in service to our collective healing and understanding.
We are responsible for our own transformation.
Starting today, we commit to centering anti-racist practices and approaches in every level of our work. The promise of change can never become reality without a plan for our own organization, and so we will share in the weight of advocacy through the following actions:
- Utilizing an equity assessment in our projects to enable organizations to evaluate themselves against clear and consistent standards of inclusion, belonging, and equity. The assessment can shed light on organizations’ current inclusion gaps and pinpoint the areas that are most ripe for change, bringing greater awareness and accountability for sustained action.
- Educating ourselves, our staff, and our clients on the practice of anti-racism, including hosting internal conversations on racial justice and investing in expertise from equity and inclusion advisors, educators, and consultants who can further our understanding of anti-bias and anti-racism approaches.
- Collaborating with organizations and individuals committed to our shared vision for racial equity and advocacy in arts and culture, from hiring and staffing on our projects to our network of collaborators, partners, and vendors.
- Leveraging our national Culture Track platform to help reveal inequities across the field, uplifting the voices of marginalized communities, and sharing learnings that can guide organizations as they build new systems and programs to help create a more equitable artistic landscape across the nation.