Giving Compass' Take:

• Keya Crenshaw calls on arts leaders to hire and promote more women and people of color to positions of power in the art community to improve equity. 

• How can funders work to support minority artists and arts workers? 

• Learn about the power of representation in the arts

“To whom much is given, much is required.” A stalwart in the Black creative community here in Columbus, Ohio said that to me when I started a job at a local arts council in 2015. It was a place I had always dreamed of working. Who wouldn’t want to support artists while simultaneously effecting change in their community? I was honored, and beyond excited. The support I received from my immediate creative community was immeasurable, and I carried with me their dreams, as well as my own. I could not let them down, lest I be seen as a failure.

That same excitement quickly turned to dread. It wasn’t the work—far from it; I absolutely loved my job and what it meant for me personally as well as the community. However, I soon realized I was one of only two Black arts administrators in the entire city. Let that sink in for a moment … I’ll wait … Two arts administrators of color in a major metropolitan city of approximately 880,000. A population that, by the way, makes Columbus the 15th largest city in the United States. A fact of which we are very proud. Regardless, that old adage, “Pride comes before a fall,” often holds true; and as far as I’m concerned—as an arts administrator with over 15 years in the sector—Columbus was failing its art communities.

Inequity needs to cease being the status quo, but remaining ignorant to difference, diversity, and inclusion on all levels seems to have become industry standard. So, how do we change these practices? I task arts leaders to look at their hiring practices, including their human resources personnel; dismantle their state of privileged seclusion; abolish the wage gap; be more accessible; be purposeful in hiring and community outreach; hire experienced employees; and participate in annual implicit bias training

Read the full article about equity in the arts by Keya Crenshaw at Americans for the Arts.