SNAPSHOT: Cultural Equity Statements

Mark Sabb is the Director of Marketing & Communications at the Museum of the African Diaspora (MoAD) and Sarah Pritchard is the Director of Communications at SOMArts Cultural Center. They recently sat down to discuss organizational statements on cultural equity in the arts. Here’s an excerpt from their conversation, including quick links to more resources on crafting a cultural equity statement that fits your organization.

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  • With organizations like Americans for the Arts adopting Cultural Equity Statements, it seems like there is growing momentum behind arts organizations adopting statements that detail their approach to cultural equity. What do you think is motivating this trend?
  • Increasingly, arts organizations are understanding their responsibility to the communities they service. I think Americans for the Arts did a great job offering a definition of the term as embodying “the values, policies, and practices that ensure that all people—including but not limited to those who have been historically underrepresented based on race/ethnicity, age, ability, sexual orientation, gender, socioeconomic status, geography, citizenship status, or religion—are represented in the development of arts policy; the support of artists; the nurturing of accessible, thriving venues for expression; and the fair distribution of programmatic, financial, and informational resources.”
  • Cultural Equity takes into account that we all have valuable stories and complex histories while also recognizing that certain communities have histories which have been historically repressed. I think it is important for every arts organization to have these ideals as a part of their core values. 
  • We were asked to create a template for Bay Area organizations interested in creating cultural equity statements. After talking it over, we decided that we would rather provide a list of resources so that organizations could be more intentional about crafting statements that are a good fit for their unique settings. We didn’t want to encourage a copy-and-paste approach to addressing systemic issues of inequality in organizations’ cultures. 
  • Along with the direction Sarah stated above, we believe that it is important to remember the cultural perspective and history of the community you serve when creating cultural equity statements. As arts organizations we should do all we can to encourage strength in diversity and collaboration.
  • As part of ABBA’s work, we are committed to promoting a just and fair arts ecosystem in the Bay Area — working together to eradicate systemic racism, classism, sexism, and homophobia when they manifest in the arts world. If adopting a cultural equity statement at your arts organization will help achieve those goals, see below for some of the resources we were able to find and contact ABBA if you would like to connect about how to implement a cultural equity statement. We would love to work with you!

Example cultural equity statements:

Resources to support organizations adopting cultural equity statements:

 


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  • The following was the original statement adopted by the 1990 San Francisco Arts Task Force that established the Cultural Equity grants program. The Task Force, appointed by the Board of Supervisors, had 59-members; the vote was 58 yes, 0 no, with one abstention.
    —-Jeff Jones

    CEG grants are offered in the spirit that all people who make up the city ought to have fair access to information, financial resources and opportunities for full cultural expression, as well as opportunities to be represented in the development of arts policy and the distribution of arts
    resources; that all the cultures and subcultures of the city are represented in thriving, visible arts organizations of all sizes; that new large-budget arts institutions whose programming reflects the
    experiences of historically underserved communities flourish.