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Home > About > News and Events > News > Field News > Supporting Leaders of Color to Achieve Cultural Equity

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Supporting Leaders of Color to Achieve Cultural Equity

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Apr 19, 2016

Writing at, Carlton Turner, executive director of Alternate ROOTS, argues that support for cultural organizations working in communities of color cannot be divorced from an understanding of the broader social context. In other words, funders and service organizations working to strengthen culturally specific programs need to have an approach that acknowledges structurally embedded racial and economic inequalities.

“Organizations with a dedicated mission to serving communities of color are struggling to stay afloat not because of mismanagement, lack of capacity or inferior artistic products. They struggle to stay afloat because of the history of inequity that exists in our society at large, a phenomenon that also impacts the distribution of funds in the cultural sector. We continue to struggle with issues of inclusion, diversity, and equity in the nonprofit arts and culture sector because our society continues to struggle with them,” Turner writes.

“As we work to understand and develop solutions to these problems as a field we cannot do so disconnected from the larger social context. And yet so many of the professional development programs offered to build the capacity of artists and organizations of color are ignorant of these issues at best, and actively reliant on the perpetuation of them at worst.”

In a recent article published in GuildNotes, entitled People of Color in Arts Eduction Leadership, Lara Davis, arts education manager, City of Seattle Office of Arts & Culture, reinforced this point. “It’s...crucial that the content of professional development programs takes into account the intersecting, complex nature of oppression,” Davis wrote. “When PD programs are exploring aspects of leadership or challenging dynamics in the workplace, is the content informed by an understanding of how power, privilege, and race shape and inform these daily interactions? If not, then program administrators are dismissing the very real experiences of people of color.”

Davis is also the Co-Ambassador (with Rodney Camarce of The City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program) of the Guild's new ALAANA Network. The network hopes to raise the profile of work being led by people of color in the arts, increase access to sustained resources, and invest in the growth and leadership of people of color in the community arts education field.

Read Turner's full article here.

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