Access, Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion (ADEI) in Cultural Organizations: Challenges and Opportunities (Presentation)
Antonio C. Cuyler (Guest speaker), Florida State University, University of Michigan, Cuyler Consulting
In English | Simultaneous interpretation in French
Before COVID-19 ravaged the world with particular impact on communities of the global majority in the United States, and Black Americans faced a remarkable summer of killings at the hands of police; a colleague confessed that he considered access, diversity, equity, and inclusion (ADEI) work noise. Others in the creative sector likely did, too. Nevertheless, George Floyd’s hyper-public killing by police galvanized a global racial reckoning that cultural organizations around the world in Australia (Huynh 2020), France (Marshall 2021), Germany (Sulcas 2021), and the U. K. (Greenberger 2020) simply could not ignore. For the first time, many cultural organizations released public statements exclaiming that, “Black Lives Matter,” when doing so before May 25, 2020 may have cost them critical financial, political, and social capital that they needed to sustain themselves.
Across dance, film, literature, music, theatre, and visual arts, “statements of solidarity” became so pervasive that I had difficulty keeping track of who published a statement versus those who did not. In fact, the Founding Director of Women of Color in the Arts (WOCA), a national grassroots organization dedicated to creating racial equity in the performing arts, penned a letter in the Medium about the creative sector’s voluminous solidarity statements stating: I’ve stopped counting (and reading) the endless emails I’ve received from arts organizations touting how they stand in solidarity with Black people. Statements which proclaim they’re shutting down their operations and programming — galas and town halls and education programs are “going black.” How cute. Now, all of a sudden, historically and predominantly White arts institutions want to be “in solidarity” with Black folks? I know what solidarity looks like. And it ain’t this.
Many people who have experienced systemic marginalization and oppression – ableism, ageism, cisgenderism, classism, heterosexism, racism, and sexism to name a few – in the creative sector shared Johnson’s sentiment. After May of 2020 a series of headlines revealed that the creative sector, too, has fallen prey to systemic marginalization and oppression. Some of the headlines included: “New York Knows Its Arts Organizations Have a Diversity Problem. Now What?” “Black Theater Workers Call Out Racism on Broadway,” “Confidential settlement reached in BSO flutist’s gender pay-discrimination suit,” “The Guggenheim’s First Black Curator Is Denouncing the Museum’s Treatment of Her.” Addressing systemic marginalization and oppression in the creative sector remains the most significant issue warranting the sector’s undivided attention.
To assist in this work, in this presentation, I define ADEI. In addition, I identify myths and misunderstandings that some people in the creative sector hold about ADEI. I also describe how cultural organizations can apply ADEI to their thinking about artists & programming, audiences, boards/volunteers, and staff so that those from HMOG may fully experience the transformative qualities of culture. In closing, I examine four key developments that the sector should pay special attention to while institutionalizing ADEI in cultural organizations.
Antonio C. Cuyler (He/Him/His)
Antonio C. Cuyler, Ph.D. is the author of Access, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in Cultural Organizations: Insights from the Careers of Executive Opera Managers of Color in the U. S. and editor of Arts Management, Cultural Policy, & the African Diaspora. He serves as the Director of the MA Program & Associate Professor of Arts Administration at Florida State University (FSU), Visiting Associate Professor of Theatre & Drama at the University of Michigan, and Founder of Cuyler Consulting, LLC, a Black-owned arts consultancy that helps cultural organizations maximize their performance and community relevance through access, diversity, equity, and inclusion (ADEI).