Building Toward Racial Equity in Arts Philanthropy

In a recent blog post, Barry Hessenius, author of the nonprofit arts Barry’s Blog, highlights the importance of increased diversity at the top as a step toward greater funding equity.

Racial diversity is not racial equity, but as Hessenius explores, enhancing racial diversity in leadership positions is a step toward increasing racial equity in arts philanthropy.

Hessenius acknowledges efforts that begin to address inequity including diversifying decision-making processes within the field. He argues that there's a need in arts philanthropy for more than just a representative proportion of leaders to be diverse. He calls for move diverse people moving into positions of power:

Starting with big appointments of arts friendly supporters like Darren Walker at the Ford Foundation, Fred Blackwell at the San Francisco Foundation, and the recent appointment of Elizabeth Alexander to head the Mellon Foundation, - all leaders committed to social justice, equity and the arts - and with people in the arts like Pam Breaux at NASAA, Eddie Torres at GIA, Javier Torres (soon to join) the Surdna Foundation. Emiko Ono at the Hewlett Foundation, Angie Kim at CCI among many, many others, we are now seeing more diverse people in decision making positions of authority. This is a fundamental and critically important milestone. It's not that diversity was wholly absent before. We've had people of color in key positions - but now it seems like it's moving faster to cover a wider ground at the very top of our organizational structures.

To succeed in creating equity in the arts, a sensibility informed perspective is essential, Hessenius says. "If we want to address inequity, racism, bias, and prejudice, we need people at the decision-making tables who are members of the groups who have been at the receiving end of the denial of equity. We need that perspective [...] as the core viewpoint," he continues, stressing how essential it is to have these perspectives at key organizations moving the field closer to equity while helping to dismantle biases, prejudices, and ultimately structural racism.

Read the full post here.

Image courtesy of Pixabay: Terimakasih0