A recent article from Createquity examines and challenges the common juxtaposition of terms like “mainstream” and “culturally specific” in reference to arts organizations and art forms:
On the Cultural Specificity of Symphony Orchestras
In the research literature, the term “mainstream” is often contrasted with the language “culturally-specific,” and it is this combination that provokes the fiercest resistance from cultural equity advocates. The logic on researchers’ part is that “culturally-specific” organizations explicitly target a specific demographic population, whereas “mainstream” organizations target everyone. On its face, this seems perfectly reasonable. In practice, though, the dynamic is asymmetric. Organizations celebrating European art forms tend to have been founded earlier than organizations that primarily serve communities of color and benefited from the structural advantages enjoyed by white culture at the time (and since), enabling them to capture much of the sector’s wealth. And yet virtually none of these institutions identify as “culturally-specific” . . . .