Increasing Equity and Inclusion in the Arts


Hi, I'm Eric ni. Managing editor of Stanford social innovation review which aims to inform and inspire leaders of social change. Learn more at SSI are dot org. What practices made the arts more or less impulsive? At our two thousand eighteen nonprofit management is to conference leaders from the San Francisco Bay area art world discussed how they run their organizations and shape the performances to be more diverse and welcoming to all panelists Tim Seelig artistic director of the San Francisco game ends chorus says that's the next big shift. If we are to survive to go under the community knocked down those norms and be something that is accessible leak was joined by non Tara San manager of cultural strategies with race forward. Judith Smith, founder and director of access dance company and Sherry young executive director and founder of the African American Shakespeare Company. We're delighted to be here. And I'm certainly just thrilled to be joined by my illustrious co-panelists over here. I'm your moderator for the day. I'm going to take a just a quick second to introduce myself for more fully. And then we'll actually have everyone say a bit about their work. So you have a sense of who you are. And what we do and what we've done and also just a note that more full bios are are certainly near program, and you can take a look. So my name is Nancy says, and I'm the manager of cultural strategies at race forward the center for racial Justice innovation I'm recovering arts administrator and artists and a large portion of my work is running innovation labs for racial equity in the arts. I currently do. So in New York City where we have sixty different arts organizations of all types, everything for museums to theaters to small community based groups going through. Offensive racial equity boot counts, and my job also involves organizing in the arts and culture sector in the nonprofit arts and culture sector for increased racial equity and really delighted to be here to have a pretty expensive conversation about diversity inclusion and equity the arts, and I wondered actually Tim if you would introduce yourself, and then Sherry and Judith a little bit as well. Sure. The artistic director of the San Francisco gay men's chorus, and as a that, I am a cat herder of the gays and. So it's a challenge I actually have two hundred seventy five gays that get together every Monday night, and that is about a thousand opinions on any given topic. So I find myself as both conductor and coordinator, I've been the executive director and the chief operating officer. I've been conducting gay choirs for thirty one years, and it's been a joy, and and also rocky road in many ways. And I know you're excited to hear about the rocks. That's it. My name is Sherry young. I'm the founder and executive director of the African American Shakespeare Company, we were just voted the best life gator in San Francisco for two thousand eighteen thank you. I started the company when I was about five years old. So. We do Shakespeare in a different cultural vein that connects to a diverse community specifically, the African American community has always been my targeted goal, and we kind of branched out into doing American classics, which includes not only August Wilson and George wolf, but Tennessee Williams, and I don't know some others, but we do that. And we're now opening up for colored girls with into sake. Sean gay tomorrow night in San Francisco. So if you are in town, please drop by but we only have about thirty tickets left, literally. And we look forward to our twenty fifth anniversary coming up next season. Thank you. My name is Judah Smith, and I am the founder and director America. I'm also a recovering arts administrator. I just retired in February. I started the company when I was ten. Seriously. It was thirty one years ago. Access started. Listen group of us. They got together really with the idea of just saying what would happen when you brought people with and without disabilities together to explore movement. What we didn't realize that there was a whole really important, social and political implication that what we were doing right away access started alongside artistic program engagement work teaching because people would come say where do I go do this? And we had nowhere else to send them. We also realize that because it's virtually impossible then and still today for disabled dancers to get training that we were going to have to train dancers, and alongside that advocacy became a really important part. So access mission. As I exited was to change the face of dance and disability through artistry, engagement, and advocacy. And I'm thrilled to say that the company is continuing they replaced me with two people an executive director and artistic director, and you can find out more about access on the website, a D A N C E dot org. Thank you. Thank you for sharing a bit about your work. So we have a lot to talk about this morning. And as the caffeine is kicking in and the breakfast is settling in I wanted to actually open our conversation with just a note about why this particular conversation around equity and Justice and inclusion in the arts through the arts for the purposes of a nonprofit sector that is equitable is so critical and timely. So I'll just take a second to clarify. Why where we're really centering this conversation through the lens of both arts organizations and an artists so one is that as any other portion of the nonprofit sector, the art sector within the nonprofit world is just as rife with racism, and homophobia and able ISM and all types of institutional oppressions. And in fact, there's there's a understanding. That as creative people as. Artistic organizations that we're somehow better and have answered some of these really pernicious questions because we are inherently creative and innovative. Right. And it turns out that this is sometimes true. But for the most part all of the problems that plagued the sector generally are even more accessible baited in the arts. And I wanted to lift up something that has been really percolating in the arts world for the last several years, and that is this incredible report and slightly depressing report that came out in twenty eleven originally called by the helicopter collaborative. It's called fusing arts and culture, and it looks at the the sort of consistency of disparities are round all types of oppressions in the art sector and how it's continued to grow a pace in the last decade. And this is despite the fact that since the data became available a decade ago almost arts organization. Nonprofit professionals foundations and the philanthropy for infrastructure around grant making the arts has actually become increasingly aware of racial inequity of able is of homophobia and more and are actually doing things to address in some measure, the inequities and yet the disparities have grown they've grown at least by five percent in the sector in the last decade. So we here we are in two thousand eighteen this beautiful September morning trying to really figure out how is it possible that on on one hand? Well, our sector's learning more about and doing more about inequity that those inequities are still growing, and that's happening at simultaneously. So that's one one significant reason why I believe in the arts and culture world, particularly really looking at why things are not working is going to be critical. Not just for the health of our some sector and industry. Sorry for the nonprofit world together. And then the other reason, of course, is that we when talking about building equitable inclusive just movements we can't ignore the ways in which are Stras. Our theater companies are dense companies are museums the places that actually generate culture that are bit culture that explained what the value of culture is for our communities and say, what's valuable what's desirable. What's worthy? If those places are rife with oppression. Turns out turns out, none of our communities can do as well. So with that I'm going to actually go ahead and jump right into some questions for for us to dig in to we hope to have a little bit of time at the end for all of you to ask questions as well. So my first wondering for all of you actually is that you've been in this work for a long time for decades. Right. And a lot has changed in a lot hasn't changed and turns. That somethings are entrenched in the same ways. And some things have shifted quite dramatically. And I wonder what you've all seen in your career since you started your companies, and you're gonna at five years and ten years. What's changed for you all in hasn't? I I guess I'll start when you think about doing Shakespeare and a black theater company doing Shakespeare. One of the phone calls. I got the very first year. We did this as just a trial was someone from my own community saying how dare you do this white man to work. You're insulting us. We should be uplifting. The black playwrights, and I truly understand that I have family and relatives who said, you know, I'd rather do anything but see a Shakespeare show, and I get that too. And at the same time, we've survived for almost twenty five years, very successfully in difficult economic terms because there are people of Arkansas unity who says I don't understand it. But I wanna understand it and be part of the conversation. And we have kids who started off with us when they were ten years old seeing Cinderella. We'd call Cinderella art gateway performance drunk as we get them in for Cinderella's little girls, they come in an audition with the adult actors. And then they well let me try out this one. Oh, I like that let me try this one. So this one young lady Britney SIMS. She was in Richard the third and she played the duchess of two L Peter calendar one of the best black. Shakespeare, what are the best steaks actors who happens to be black? And she got so much accolades she's only in her late twenties early thirties. And after the show she said, I just wanted to let you know that I saw Cinderella. And I always told my mom that I wanna work with this company. And I didn't feel like I was good enough. I didn't feel like I had enough training. But you guys brought me in and you helped me and you worked with me. And that's what a lot of other cultural institutions don't do they want you to come already prepared. They want you to have all the goods at the very beginning. But you guys bring us in and you work with us, and she's actually in for colored girls. She's. The one on the postcard that you might have in your packet. But. Things like is things like that that really really impacts what we do. Because back in the day. I was lucky to get ten people in an audience. And now we're doing sold out houses. And it's our community the African American community this coming and we have other cultural groups joining them. So it's really proud to see and. Yeah, I think that's all I have to good. Thank you. Do. You wanna go Tim? And then we have this in common all of the panelists that we work for nonprofit arts organizations who I would say are not the mainstream. We are. We are fighting every day nineteen seventies. Where an exciting time for the gays because we do mind if I say the gays has I am there. Oh, I'm so comfortable with it. Obviously. The socks so. Nineteen seventies were were an exciting time. Also, a time of oppression where the gay community was just coming out after stonewall and the thought arose why not have a choir, obviously, gay men like to sing. And so they put up posters and. They put posters up and the first night in October of nineteen seventy eight hundred men got in a room and tried to decide what they would call themselves. And there were two fine lists, of course, they argued at the first main. Hello. And so one of the options was men about town because they didn't want to put in the name because no one had done that prior to that. And you could be fired from your job. I mean there were so many reasons not to do it at the end of that rehearsal. They said, Nope, we're going to be the San Francisco gay men's chorus, and they stepped out as the first organization and they've launched a movement. That is now worldwide four weeks later Harvey milk and Mosconi mayor must go anywhere assassinated and the chorus they gave me its chorus had its first public performance on the steps of city hall at the candlelight memorial. Only four weeks old. Yep. So. They decided that there were enough of them that had grown up in the church that they needed to go on mission tour, so nineteen Eighty-one. They decided to go on a national tour and birth gay men's choruses around the country the very same day, they left. There was a small article in the chronicle that said chorus goes onto national tour rare homosexual cancer discovered in a little corner. And so the the shift for the gay men's chorus turned to caregivers seeing from a memorial services. That was our entire focus for the next ten years or more. We grew up all of a sudden it wasn't as nineteen seventies party choir. It was the glue that really held the community together through the arts when we and I made positive, I'm one of those survivors. And here we are where you can't tell anymore, and I look around and many of you. You are old enough to remember those days. So we came out of that. And all of a sudden, we realized that we were going to live as an arts organization that we really would exist, and we turned to activism aside from our aids activism before we began looking at other issues that affected us, and I will say it's been the most exciting thing to see those shifts that have now brought the chorus to to being zealous about his activism equally important to the artistic product. And that's the exciting thing about being an arts and minister in LGBTQ, plus alphabet organization. I can dovetail on that. Because I feel like. As I mentioned access. We realized that there was the social political implication to what we were doing. And I don't think I could have worked this hard to grow an organization if it didn't have some kind of a. Relevance and importance in changing society when we started the company, and we didn't know of any other companies anywhere. And this was before the internet. Most of you some of you can remember the days before the internet. And one of the things that. Happened was that we realized after we started being able to connect with different people that. Integrated dance. That's what we call. It was actually popping up at the same time all over the world. Probably as a result of what was happening both in dance. And what was happening socially societally for people with disabilities. But I really haven't seen big shifts in terms of equities for people with disabilities. We've got left out at the diversity movement. We got left out in the multi-culturalism movement, and we're getting left out of the equity movement and I feel like disabilities. Kind of the final frontier of DA I and I want to say that if you're not including disability and your equity platforms, you're not doing disability and disability is. Still really it's feared it's overlooked. I would say that we are the most diverse. Under served under represented community because we cross every line of everything class race, ethnicity sexual preference. You name it. So I think that that you know, I didn't expect I was injured when I was seventeen and I did not expect to spend my life as a disabled person that was not in my plan and disability can happen to anybody at any time. So I think one of the things that I want to reference is did anyone happened to see Darren walkers letter his annual letter to the field in September of twenty sixteen because he's the CEO of Ford Foundation. He wrote a mini manifesto and on how he had missed the boat on including disability and the Ford equity platform, and he got called out by disability leaders. And I would say one of the great things that happened. Was that Darren really owned up to it and Ford is addressing it and Judy human who is. The mother of the independent living and civil rights of for people with disabilities are movement. She is disability fellow and Ford is really looking at how they are integrating including and putting disability into all of their equity initiatives. I think the wonderful thing about the arts is we don't do pieces about disability. We did early on. And then when I took over the artistic leadership of the company in nineteen ninety seven I decided I didn't want to do pieces about disability because I felt like what we did together would say could speak for itself. This is remarkable. I'm struck actually by how much of. Your own origin stories for your work and for where you began to where where things are. Now, how much of a fight it's been I pick up on some of that around how much of a fight it's been to actually advocate for our communities for visibility for representation for for actually a stake in being seen in being understood as as vital creative and worthy for all of the reasons that you've shared too, and I wondered if if you could all speak to what some are some of the problems are the challenges are today that you're really struggling with in terms of equity and inclusion in your work and also whether or not the the growth of the diversification of our fields and Dan's in theater in music and more has actually been as as good as you hoped. Or if there's challenges still. Well, I'll start with that early on. We just had to convince people that what we were doing with actually art and not therapy. We had to convince funders that people at disabilities had a place in the performing arts, and when we used to type up grand prix pope proposals. This anybody remember doing that typing them up, and well, I would. Put a big box in the demographics. And I do it in red. And I'd put a big X in nine bright disabled because none of the foundations were measuring disability metrics, and that's still not happening. And I got an Email from I'm on board source. Some of you, probably get their emails, and I got an Email. About this work that they were doing around equity, and I wrote to them, and I said, well, what are you doing around disability? And I got an Email back from an wall stabbed the CEO really quickly, which I was really impressed by referencing a study that they had done leading with leading. What was that leading with? Yes. And she referenced it, and she said that you know, people at disabilities were included. And so I did I downloaded the PDF and I did a search for disability and people with disabilities. And we came up in to survey respondents demographics. But we did not come up in the demographics that they were measuring about the profile of boards and executives. And there are disabled leaders in this country, and I wrote her back and pointed that out, and I did not hear back from her after that. So I think that in a lot of ways it, it's not changed. You know, we have the Americans with Disabilities Act that the National Endowment for the arts has an ADA clause that if you are not accessible, you don't get funding. It's not enforced. You know, there are still danced theaters in San Francisco that are up a flight of stairs. So disabled people can't go there. And this particular dance organization would never hold a performance class where people of color couldn't come where immigrant immigrants weren't welcome where Jewish people weren't welcome. So that's why I say I and some ways I haven't seen much of his shift, and that's one of the battles. That were still fighting is just basic acknowledgement and. Just having a seat at the table. I would say and well that was that was beautiful. The struggle is real obviously, are we wouldn't be having a panel. And we wouldn't have been invited to be on this panel for my constituency. It's been it's been rough. And we had some years where we thought things were getting a lot better. And then we found out two years ago that no that that rug was pulled out from underneath our our whole being both of you have mentioned children. You mentioned the fact that thirteen million people in some children got to see this. You mentioned the fact that one of your one of your actors wanted to be Cinderella. I have a lot of mine that would like to do that as well. But. The role is. It's been cast, and I and the shoe fit me. So it was great. Custom-made? The struggle for us came really real in November of two thousand sixteen and we decided to take three hundred singers to the south which started to go into the belly of the beast, and where the worst laws in our country exist against LGBT community knowing that one of those states, of course, Alabama where attorney general comes from. And we know what he wants. So we went to Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee, South Carolina and North Carolina with three hundred gays. It was Priscilla meets Dixie. And they'll take a moment paint. It was it was awesome. But we find ourselves in an interesting place where people think will what's the problem with lesbian and gay and queer by what's the problem? You're on TV you're in commercials. Your good, and no one is really noticing that undercurrent that has turned backward against my community. And I think would. I'm struck with is that we're all whole we are whole we are not needing. We are not partial we are not anything other than whole human beings. And that's what we're doing is saying to the world. And when we come at that, even though the details and the data say say differently. All of us are standing up to to stand up for our community and say, we're good. We're not done and you'll need to catch up. But we are good. And I love the fact that that we feel that way. I agree. A little bit. I mean, we are good internally like you sold out houses. We'll see here's here's the. Here's the flipside of that. My organization is doing well the building where we are housed. We were pushed out of because we were doing too much theater, and we have internal struggles internally like, well, you know, black Cinderella. But are we going to incorporate other cultures and let Tina in Asian, you know, and internally there's that dialogue that we have for ourselves. But then there are the challenges externally that affects what we do. And how we do it. And who we do it for and our space is one of the biggest issues because we're in a city owned building. There's like four or five other arts organization performing arts organizations, and we were there for thirteen years. And we were told you're doing too much theater you need to let everyone else have an opportunity to do something in the same building. So. So instead of having a two week and run for a month. You should just have two weekends and one of that we can is your tech week. So anyone who's at the performing arts world knows that tech week is the set building the lice the practicing all of that time. So for performing arts organization, you can't even recoup rate in expenses on a two weekend. Run and expected to be reviewed expect to the community to be able to schedule it to see it. It takes two weeks for someone to say, oh, girl, you better see this show because it's going to close at the end of the month by the time. It was called me curl. Is that? Okay. So so we're having this struggle, and no one sees that. But the groups inside the other groups had to disband some of them have left the building because there is no place for them to perform. I don't know what's going to happen to them. We were one of the strongest organization, but I don't know what's going to happen to the others and one of the funders that we went to you know, we we kind of collaborated together as a group called attain African American theatre artists for independence, and we're looking for our own space to have performing arts and one of the funders. We went to you said aren't there enough black performing arts faces and on the surface? It does look like that. You got black repertory theatre in Berkeley. You have them along the art center, you have the African American art and culture complex, and yet we're having difficulties being able to have program at an affordable price that our community can come and see because I don't see theater that cost me four hundred dollars or one hundred dollars. I get a complimentary ticket. I wait until I know somebody who's working. The box office that day or ushering. You know? I don't spend my dollars that way because I don't make those kinds of dollars to spend. If any of you seen me, I roll around in my desk, f Ford one fifty truck, but the utility thing on top, and my my my friends are like oh my God. You're the executive director. You're the founder, what are you doing? You should have some prestige. Get a tesla. No. So so there are these real challenges than people don't even recognize but us in the industry, and amongst our own group, and culture and. So even learning how to fund raise we are doing a okay job, we could be doing so much better. And it's just about resources to. So I I so let me just say that I what I really meant was that we are whole as people people guide people toward wholeness in themselves every concert that we give in San Francisco. We lose money we sell them out, and we lose money. So the that part is not equitable with some of the the big organizations that own their own really big buildings downtown San Francisco that I won't name. Ooh. This is we're getting right to the meat of the challenges here in there's a couple of things I want to lift up to dig into further for conversation. So actually hear a couple of challenges around what appears to be as those things are fine because we have increased representation of gay LGBTQ communities on television on movies increased spaces for black cultural workers and artists to be be invisible spaces and to be on stage, perhaps increased just generic representation of disabled folks in the arts supposedly, but what's happening of it is the diversity politics that our industry works under does not account for power and does not actually mean equity. It's really it's a politics of all we have to do is have lots of different kinds of people there somehow, and we get to see them somehow, and it doesn't speak. To whether indeed your your bidder is actually being pushed out of of your community because of gentrification or rising costs or on affordability doesn't speak to whether the actual country is becoming more, transphobic, homophobic. And it certainly Judith. I loved what you said about the actual like metrics of measurement, not even accounting for whether disabled artists are in leadership and have power and are actually leading arts organizations and leading the field into which in reality. Of course, they are, but they're not being measured, and they're not being accounted for and there's also not enough space for that conversation. So I'm curious about wearing your work. You're running up against this problem with what diversity is. And what equity actually is for your communities? Just because we have our people on stage in the way that we are. Now doesn't mean our communities aren't struggling deeply. So I wonder about that would you speak more to those problems and actually. If there's things you've tried that have been successful or not in that realm. The I'll I'll I'll start off this one. What you were saying about that downtown theater company. I don't know if it's the same one I'm thinking of. But there's this thing that happens where the funding world said we want to have a larger impact and we want to be diverse and we want to do right into good. And the way that we're going to do that. We're going to put a lot of funding equity into the large cultural institutions, and that will trickle down. So what you get is these larger organizations that has a lot of resources to -bility, and then they start hiring like, oh, okay. I'll I'll hire that black person, and that Asian someone in the wheelchair and we're going to diversify in the communities, but they don't have any real power or say of that program. So that's one level. And then at the other level, you have actually the groups who have been doing the work for all those years in the communities already that didn't have the opportunity for that. Investment that work. They have already been doing. So it's like. At USF of. I've heard about the Brown. Paper bag experiment has anyone heard about that one? Yes. Some of you guys. Yes. I thrilled about that experiment. Because for those of you who do not know you're in teams of students. Everybody has a Brown paper bag and in this bag. You might have a quick of glues. Staples, paper, glitter, whatever some bad will have all of that stuff. Some back have nothing and the exercise is to make a paper chain, and you have to make a paper chain. Now, if you have nothing you might have to put some spit on that paper and glue it together while the other ones that have everything they got Staples. Make it pretty after time period. Stop like, let's see how well we're doing this long enough. Or if it's pretty now for those who make it pretty enough or long enough. Here's some more resources. Congratulations to you, all and you nothing here you just need to try a little bit harder. But maybe we'll. Give you a stapler. So this experiment is what's been happening in the nonprofit sector where those who have the resources get more rewarded while those who haven't are barely even catching up, and it becomes like this. And that's where the struggle is. Like, I'm so frustrated, we're doing the work. We're there we know the community and yet you're hiring somebody who has to find somebody to get in there. I was just going to jump in here to say that that that example of the Brown paper bag is so illustrative. Thank you for sharing that and to just sort of put in concrete terms in terms of money and resources that helicopter collaborative report says four percent of all philanthropist money goes towards in the arts sector towards group that are supposed groups that are classified as minorities, and that would be identity based groups or groups run by people of color groups for a particular issue area or whatnot. So that's literally four cents out of every dollar going to one part of the cultural sector, and then every other portion of the resources, funneling towards mainstream large highly visible, white dominated and sort of mainstream groups, right? And so I'm just thinking about that what you just described with the tale of two sectors. That's the degree of cultural inequity in the arts is so extreme. And there's a particular extractive piece of that that I'm curious to talk about that too that for organizations like ours. The ones that are represented here. We're struggling and struggling to get to the place where our work is visible. Right. And then we're hitting the feeling where actually the resource is not flowing to our work to the specific inequities that were speaking to. And then our leaders are disabled who are queer who are people of color and women of color are getting taxed out, and then getting jobs in the big ballets and the big orchestras and the big museums and are actually coming in as though the those individual people are the equity strategy, right? And so that what that does is it puts an incredible burden on our people to actually fix the problems of their institutions that are not equitable in the first place some curious about how how you've navigated. That the disparities in our sector are really extreme. And actually wanted to just ask one of the questions that we had talked about in preparation for the panel is how much failure is instructive for for for for learning turns out that you learn a lot more from other people's failures than their successes perhaps because successes are really made into simple. You know, it makes every time you will succeed at something especially in equity strategy. It's like the labor has been made invisible. And I'm curious about if things that you've tried that you've run into around these disparities in our sector would have you tried. What didn't go? Well, did did you fail? Is there anything you tell us that we could do differently? We can't tell them. Well. Member of my board who's in the room. So I can't tell them about the failures. This is a fascinating discussion. You all have done incredible work with Brown. Paper bag with nothing in it. Congratulations. I it's it's the discussion of our society, the rich get richer, the poor get poor the one percent gets the money. And it's it's true in the arts as well. I people say have said through the years in my career, if you'll just seeing some African American music, they'll all come, and they and they don't this life. Don't they're actually highly offended that you would you would think that this last year? However, we did a new work that I encourage you all to look up on not by us, but called the the seven last words of unarmed men, and it's an oratorio based on the seven last words of seven black men who were murdered in the streets, and it is incredibly powerful, we spent an enormous amount of time and energy gathering, the the names and contacts for every underserve minority African American organization in the entire bay area and sent them letters and said, we're doing this work, and we had none. So there's that thing about appropriation. Like, why did you really do this? We're clear in our hearts. My we did it because it was something that we as as a fringe or a more minority community needed to say on behalf of our brothers and sisters. But it didn't work in as a vehicle to increase our audience or diversify our audience. So that I would say it. It's not a failure. Because it was spectacular and changed our minds and hearts, but that effort just fell flat. But I think what this brings up is that, you know, if he want to serve and you want to engage anyone involve diversity equity, a wide range of people you've got to go to them. And you know, you need to partner with organizations, and you need to recruit disabled board members you need to find out you need to do staff training board staff volunteer training on inclusion for people with disabilities. You need to go to the source, and you need to engage them, and you need to be sincere. And I think you know, there's so much fear around disability and saying the wrong thing, and we're just like disobey. Ability just. In name. You know? Trying to clean it up with physically challenged differently abled handy capable which makes me just want people. You know? So seriously, this is what what it means that you've got to get in the trenches, and you've got to find these people you've got to find these organizations you have to start at the top which Ford Foundation and Darren did, you know, you start at the top with the board and the leadership, and then you go down, and you get your staff involved your volunteers involved, you know, your constituents involved, but it's not easy work. And you know, we are often presenters first contact with their disability community when we tour. They don't know how to outreach, you know, I spent hours early on when I had the bandwidth researching every disabled organization in town and city and contacting myself, but you know, I ran out of the. Panned with to do that as the company grew. But you know, they haven't even considered how they would reach their disabled community or who they're disabled constituents are would they like to come to see something. That's not about people with disabilities. Well, yeah, you know, and I think there's this whole untapped market. We're twenty percent of the population. I don't see twenty percent of people like me out here in this audience. You know, I don't see it in the leadership. I don't see it in the audiences. You know, we spend money we pay taxes we vote, you know, and we're a virtually untapped market. And we're just out there waiting for. You know, waiting to be included in waiting to have ways to be engaged. I think that it's a long term game. Meaning that I think I got to request your letter for that event. And. I'm sorry. How'd you like it was it? Good. Okay. All right. Maybe you do. Sorry. Sorry. It's a long game. We had the San Francisco ballet come to our building wanting to partner because there's a lot of African American community in the western dish in Fillmore neighborhood. And there was that sense of are you here just for the funding dollars and for the black children to look good? Or are you going to be here? So I told Andy on the I said this has to be a long-term game, meaning not just this year or next year. But we're talking about ten year investment minimum. And then I said, and then you have to go to the organizations that are already in this building, offering dance classes because to try to overstep them by going to the executive director and getting in through the executive director communities who are already doing the work in the building around dance won't appreciate it. And you won't be supported. So they heard those words. For the past three years. That's what exactly they've been doing. And they haven't been like, hey, where here we're showing off all the black kids and our little brochures. They're like, no we're going to keep this under the radar. We're going to work with the dance groups in the building. And we're just going to ask them. What else do they need like if you're teaching hip hop and something else if they're learning ballet what else do you need from us? And that is the kind of engagement that. I like to see in terms of if you really wanna be divers have me on your panel. But if I start saying stuff that you don't like don't kick me off, you know. That's that's not the right thing to do. So. Yeah. This is a great where we're actually lifting up some pretty specific and concrete strategies that you all have tried and that organizations could try in terms of meaningfully being equitable rather than just sort of tokenism and bringing, you know, XYZ representatives of different communities underserved communities onto their into their audiences or onto their panels. And so on so just want to lift up a few things, and then we can see if there's more. So I actually heard you say equity is impossible without deep relationships and partnerships without long-term, sustainable investment and partnerships in the community that you can't just show up and say, it's an open door policy. And then wonder why people don't come Tim? I heard you say you need to be sensitive actually, two ways in which cultural appropriation happen and don't happen. And then Judith actually heard you say also a lot about really clarifying where there's opportunities to bring people in that are not just one off, you know, sort of not actually looking at leadership and power, but token izing essentially, and I also heard a lot about the the importance of talking directly to impacted community members in order to hear what they need. So that you're actually meeting what they need rather than assuming from an institutional standpoint that you have access to the experiences and the struggles of these people and to that end, I actually think that in the in the arts, particularly in the nonprofit sector, generally, we don't have good mechanisms for asking people in communities what they need and then being responsive to that. Right. It is actually very much. I think one of you just said that I think Jude if you just said the word outreach, right like, it's very much an outreach philosophy. We're just going to do. Heavy marketing, and then hope that our people will come we hope that they'll be represented some curious about if those things there's more are there more strategies, are there things strategies within that that you're like we tried that don't do that, you know, things like that. You as as the moderator, but questions for questions for the two of you as sure I represent the LGBT Q community, but I'm also an old white SIS gendered male, and I represent that not by choice, but that just happened and all of us who are in the nonprofit sector. We want more diversity on our boards. We want more diversity in our staff. We want more we want that with every fiber of Rb. It's in every document that we produce we want that. So now, I'm going to ask each of you, I come to you. And I say would you be on my board? Would you be on my board? How do I find those people, and what is the message? So that you don't hear a they wanted to buy person on the panel. I could answer that. Because when I first started the organization is it just look for a body someone who could walk and talk to be on my board. I'm sorry. Oh. Yes. Thank you. Thank you. And a very good friend of mine. Monica. She said I need to know why you want me on my your board. Not because I'm your friend, not because you think I'll agree with you. Why do you want me on your board? And when she said that I had to think about it. So when people approach me say, I would like this from you. That's what I said why what do you? What what do you see in me that I can help? And that's really important because it lets me know, you see the person and not the appearance, and then also like I mentioned I actually served on the San Francisco arts commission, and I I was an outspoken Commissioner for for a while. And then I guess I spoke out a little bit too much because I found myself off of the commission. So the thing is that there will be always tough times. And you need to have that. Person with opposite thought, but they can't be the only one because when you're the only one in the room, there's a lot of weight, and what we hear if they're the only ones is. Oh, well that was so, and so, but you know, that's not the reality is so you keep doing the same practices. You have to have a couple of more. And then there's also I discovered online the African American something they help organizations find people of color to serve on their board. And I'll share that with you guys. Once I go back to my office because there's centered in Los Angeles, east coast and one of the foundations or several of them support this initiative to help boards and cultural institution, nonprofits, diversify their organizations. So. Well, I think you have to start by saying. You know with probably your board leadership and your your executive leadership team. Why do we wanna do this? And is it because we want to be more involved in the community as a whole is that because we need to check up that box. And then you have to make a commitment, and then you have to start planning and you have to start with. Who can who can we go to to find out more? So I think that there's a research component, you know. But but why what an also what can my organization bring to this community, and what can this community bring to my organization we were in Siberia nineteen ninety five and it was right up to Paris strike, and it was kind of a challenging time for the country. And it was definitely challenging to be working in Siberia for ten days. And we were coming up on all kinds of different issues and Bonnie who's one of the other founding members also uses a chair, she said, well, you know, actually disability is the mother of invention. And I think that's what disabled people can bring to organizations is. We are problem solvers. We are changed makers we get shit done. And we might have to figure out a really different way to do that. But you know, what? What can what can disabled people bring them my organization that I can benefit from and how can it be mutually beneficial? I think it has to start with a real questioning, you know, and maybe it's it's an hour and a half, you know, leadership team meeting to really address why do we want people of color? Why do we want LGBTQ people if they're not already there? Why do we want to save people? I'm curious about the in the few minutes, we have left, and I would love to have a chance to open up for some questions from the audience too. So I'm gonna actually ask my last question. And it's a question about the ways in which all of these issues intersect and really compound, right? When you have community members who are excluded from our organizations or staff members who are potential staff members audiences excluded from organizations who are all of the things and more. Right. So I'm curious about the queer undocumented or queer trans youth of color who are creative producers in their own communities who have their own power and their own struggles and are deeply excluded from mainstream arts, generally speaking and actually cannot drive both as on his members, and certainly as employees and staff members because cultures of many of organizations don't. Create space for people at the intersections of all of our oppressions. And I was just thinking of this, particularly I was really humbled to spend the last two days in New York with Dr Kimberly Crenshaw, who is the creator of the frame of a black woman creator of the frame of intersection -ality, she's the one who I used the word and came up with it. And I wanna talk about that. What about our people who are disabled who are queer who are trans who are undocumented who are immigrants and where black right and where where in our organizational strategy. Are we accounting for those struggles? And where do you see that not working or potentially working that that's a really good one? I got invited to submit a proposal to Ford Foundation. And it was right after Darren ETA had this awakening. And they sent me that their diversity table. And they wanted diversity for staff and constituents and board and everyone, and I had to redo that thing three times because I had to account for disabled LT. Disabled people of color, you know, it was it was a really interesting exercise for me to do because they realized when they, you know, as I was omitting the proposal that they wanted more information on the inner six section -ality peace, and you know, it is complex, and I don't think that I personally have any answers. You know, I'm I'm lesbian. I'm disabled, but I'm white. So my experience is very different than a young kid. Who you know might also have gotten hurt age seventeen. But instead of a car accident, maybe it was a gunshot in Richmond. And I went home to a family that fell apart, but we had resources so I managed to survive that. But you know, what about that young blood guy who goes back to the project, and doesn't even have an accessible home to go to, you know, it's it's a very different experience. And I'm not sure how to address all that. But it's you know. It's it's deep and it's big. And you know, I think it's going to take all of us figuring out how to come together to tackle it. I wish I had like the I obviously don't have the magic answer to it. Because I haven't take. All right. And I think that being unsure is the right answer. Because. No, none of us. Do I mean, we certainly wouldn't know how to operate from it intersectional space strategically if if we had the answer is we would have figured out. I'm hoping to do it as a sector together. So I don't have the answer. And certainly where I think we're all struggling through it together. Any other thoughts on on that point? I could say one more thing. I think we have to start with the fact that we're all human in the end, we breathe the same air, we bleed the same blood. And that's what we really have to start. And then we have to recognize that within that we're all individual. But I think we just have to start really start with a common. Looking at this as a human issue and an issue of humanity who are new road. You wrote the question what if you had a young African American who was trans who was disabled? What if you had that while I do, and I think for me in my situation in the company that I run our goal is to create a safe space. That is our goal to make anybody who walks in the door, regardless of what kind of intersex. Now, do they have feel safe and feel that they're not going to be made fun of they're not going to be abused? They're not going to be touched in a way that they don't want to be touched. And that is one of the things that I hold very dear. And I think it will serve us in the long run. One of the other things is that when you said, we don't want to be the only one people in our audiences. People wanna see themselves on the stage. And if they don't see anybody like them, then they're not going to be a part. They don't want to be a part of that. Because they don't want to be the only one or the first. I would say. There's a responsibility for the nonprofit. But then there's a responsibility of that person. I think as individuals that we have learned not to ask for what we need or to speak up when we see something that happens. This entire metoo movement is blowing me a away. And when we get into those awkward sits social situations where someone will say something a joke, and we all kind of t he and laugh about it. I think that person who has all of those intersectional things like all of us. We need to say something because we don't know when we've stepped and we've actually created a new policy NAR theater program that I got from somewhere else. Call the Ouch. Oops, where if in rehearsal, and you're nodding your head like we're rehearsal, and there's been something sad done or happened. That was offensive that kind of makes you feel a certain way you're supposed to say Ouch. And then whoever's engaged with you say oops, and that's just a cold language of something just happened in this moment, we're not going to stop at this very second to deal with it and talk it out, you know, but we're going to revisit that. Because. Happens five times out of our days where we kind of say, did you see the way that person talked me? How dare they? And it's just one of those things that we need to start talking to each other. Even on the smallest sometimes smallest things it can alleviate so much anxiety. So that that person who we are engaging with doesn't walk away saying, oh, well, you know, they just didn't understand me. I didn't feel safe we need to let people know what we need. Because the intersection -ality piece to for organizations to actually know who they're not reaching. And who they're not serving. So asking the questions like actually getting the date. I think Judith you said research is is an important part of this getting some data about who who's not actually in your community. And in your audience is going to be critical as well. I fear hand back in the corner there if someone would support us in in providing a Mike I think we'll take two maybe three questions if their time go ahead. I just wanna thank you first of all as the daughter of my father's been paraplegic his whole life. I have friends throughout the LGBT queued community. And also a former a little like Brown immigrant girl who in theater the kid. Just outrightly didn't try out for certain roles because I thought they were for the little white kids. No one told me that. So that's something to unpack in my next therapy session. But I was very. Very moves and appreciative of of the work that you're doing I guess the question I have the issue of access for people has come up throughout the conversation. Sometimes it's actual physical access to a space. Sometimes it's financial access to certain arts. One thing I've heard from friends of mine actually had to do with the typical audience at some of these types of arts, there's sometimes really deep tradition and decorum that's attached to certain certain arts. And so I've had friends that have did finally have the opportunity to attend, but they we're not met well by some of these typical audiences because they didn't you know, they weren't able to wear the right thing, or, you know, some of the the rules, and how to I don't know is this something that you also see in. How do you think that we can engage in shift? Certain audiences. So that I think it's amazing that that spaces are being created where people can go and feel well, and what about these other spaces, and how do we how do we get people to open up to various communities, and I hope that question makes center is a huge shift. Thank you for your question. Huge shift in the way, we do performing arts and that being we're in the middle of a strike strategic plan. And the whole thing is get out get out if you want to gather the millennial audience, which you need to they're not gonna come to the symphony hall and watch two hundred and seventy five men stand up there in tales and sing there's not gonna they're not coming or if they are they're going to decide it seven thirty before they eight o'clock show when they're doing. I think the whole the whole thing that we fight is the norms that we have set on you don't applaud between movements, and you don't I mean, those kinds of things, and I think. That's the next big shift. If we survive is to go into the community knocked down those norms and be something that is accessible and and feels interpersonal for everybody who enters its hard to do with two thousand people in audience, but we'll figure it out. Thank you for that question. I always joke that accesses the company that goes where no other dance company has been before or since because of the nature of our work. We've been asked to perform in some really interesting and unexpected places we've performed at NASA in Mountain View, we perform for thousands of kids every year and a variety of different multipurpose rooms and cafeterias, and you know, all of that. So I think it really the idea of getting outside of the theater setting, and, you know, having strategies that take your organization out into different communities and learning how to be flexible and. Adaptable to different situations. There's another question here. Hi. So there's so much to unpack from everything that you said and connecting to a lot of what we heard yesterday as well. First of all disabilities. You were spot on left completely invisible. A lot of the time yesterday. We heard some gentlemen, speak about funding for mental health another area that is almost completely invisible. And I do believe that it's because makes us nervous. It makes us uncomfortable. It talked a lot about that. In terms of the communication strategy yesterday. What kind of information were willing to receive in what turns us away? So I really appreciate that. And would love to know more about how to identify and and connect with disabled populations because in my community. I will tell you. They are invisible. I don't see disabled people on a regular basis in my world. But certainly they're they're twenty percent. I absolutely believe that that is true. And so I would like to know more about that. And then the other thing in terms of how we deal with intersection -ality the last keynote yesterday talked about the strategy of dividing and conquering, and I think sometimes we are almost enemies in that sense. It's our issue. That's most important. And so you talked about some efforts that you made to diversify the crowd, and you talked about board. It's so my question is I feel like one of the things that we all have to challenge. Ourselves to do is to make ourselves Volna Rable. So if you're invited to be on a board, if your first response is my just checking off a box. Well, maybe it's okay to check that box off because we need to be vulnerable. And so I wonder how you feel about that. Like if you were to take the risk if we were all to just take the risk to be vulnerable and try to educate and build release. Ships as we go does is it necessary for the relationship to be built first. Because then I feel like we're just continuing to be stuck where we are in. Now. It's really good. I just think that for for myself. There are some groups. That's like, yes, I would love to be on your board. I can. And I know what I want to add myself. But if I don't know that organization, I don't have a relationship if if someone asked me to be on a health service board, and I'm an arts person. I would have no clue why they would ask me. So yes, we do need to be vulnerable and say, yes, and I have done that where I felt if I didn't do it who else would. So I cannot complain when something happens and the oh look at them. They just did something that they should have known not to do. So I know that's my responsibility. Either one of you should of question for you. Well, that that is a really good question. Where are you located? Dayton, ohio. There are disabled people in Dayton. I probably have some Facebook prince. But I think starting with just Google, you know, we're so lucky that we have that resource because, you know, Google disability organisations, Dayton, Ohio and see what you can come up with. You know, I'm professionally interrupted able still even though I'm retired Judy and access stance dot org, and I'm also always really happy to try to connect people with resources or answer questions. But I think he'd just have to start with the research part. And I think ticking boxes is fine. But if you you know, you go and you find the disabled person to be on your board. But you're not doing anything that really engages them or their community or reflects them, then it's not going to be successful. And I think that's where we have to really take responsibility. You know as organizations to get. Training on race to get training on disability to you know, break down our own our own 'isms. You know? And and that's something that I wish I had done more of when I was at access, but I also understand that we're all like, you know, forty hour weeks or a joke. You know, let's just say sixty. So I know that we're all really overburdened. But you know, and that you know, you've got to be prepared to make the investment of time. And I want to thank all three of you for your incredible generosity and your experience and your your time here. Thank you for the full trajectory of your work. And for everything you've done to make our field, and our our lives actually, much more better by your efforts. So I appreciate you taking the time to talk with all of us, and thank you so much. Thank you everyone for being a. You've been listening to a podcast by Stanford social innovation review, a part of the center on philanthropy and civil society at Stanford University for more podcasts articles and other content about innovating for social change. Please visit our website at SSI dot org. Follow us on Twitter or like us on Facebook. I'm Eric ni. And thank you for listening.

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