“All the arts for all the people” has been one of our guiding principles for years. In 2016, we decided to invest time and energy to bring us closer to achieving that goal.
Cultural Equity Statement
Recognizing the need for action, the Board of Directors of Americans for the Arts asked the staff to make a renewed commitment for cultural equity and ensuring a creative life for all. Our new Statement on Cultural Equity represents the culmination of a year of work and consultation with members, advisory council members, stakeholders in the arts field, board, staff, and partners throughout the nonprofit sector.
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.
– Statement on Cultural Equity
Americans for the Arts engaged in a transparent process in releasing this Statement, which was approved by the Board of Directors in April 2016. Among other resources, we published a list of FAQs, 10 steps we took, blog posts, and more to help other organizations understand how we did this important work and how they can replicate it in their organizations and communities.
Continued Investment in Internal Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Work
The Board of Directors also approved and encouraged Americans for the Arts staff to undergo some critical work to examine our own staff culture of equity, diversity, and inclusion, both in written policies and informally. We contracted with Carmen Morgan, a leader in the field of arts equity, to lead a staff retreat and perform an assessment of Americans for the Arts policies and practices. This important work continues to inform both internal and external initiatives and projects, which we’re excited to share and implement in the years to come.
Honoring Robert E. Gard
Robert E. Gard (1910-1992) was a pioneer of the arts field as we know it. He championed the very concept of “arts for all” throughout his entire life’s work in rural Wisconsin. In 2016, we introduced the Robert E. Gard Award, which celebrates and honors exemplary work at the intersection of the arts and community life. The inaugural winner of the 2016 award was ArtsMemphis’ Community Engagement Fellowship, where fellows learn to listen to the needs of residents and collaborate on artistic projects that spring from and uplift the neighborhoods where they are based.
In collaboration with the Robert E. Gard Foundation, we also published To Change the Face & Heart of America: Selected Writings on the Arts and Communities, 1949-1992, a series of meditations on core questions at the intersection of the arts and community life, all drawn from Gard's 43 years of writing. This book is part of the New Community Visions Initiative, a two-year national visioning exercise for local arts agencies, arts organizations, artists, and those interested in better understanding the future role of arts and culture in helping American communities thrive.