New Diversity Goals for Arts and Culture Seeking Public Funds

Apr 1, 2012

 "Portland Introduces New Diversity Goals for Local Arts and Culture Groups Seeking Public Funds"
D.K. Row
The Oregonian
Saturday, February 25, 2012

"Portland Mayor Sam Adams and city Commissioner Amanda Fritz recently introduced a still-in-progress plan for arts groups when they look for public money:.. Specifically, arts groups will be asked to increase the ethnic makeup of their staff, boards and contractors. Their audiences, too, may become more diverse through marketing and outreach. Organizations will also be expected to spend more of their budget -- 30 percent being the ideal -- on communities of color."

Reasons for these equity measures include:

Living up to the idea of being one of the country's most progressive cities 

Remedying the economic disparity between communities of color and whites


Addressing the reality that children of color make up about 45 percent of the students in local public schools

"That's the future audience and board member and staffer," Adams said at the Jan. 23 meeting with arts organizations, where he presented his plan. "People should see the win-win for the nonprofit, the chance to make it more vital and relevant and successful."

Proposed diversity measures have elicited a broad, passionate and mixed response, and include:

Some are unequivocal in their support.
Others support them but worry about how the new measures could complicate programming and hiring.
Still others see this as a challenge to cultural groups to think about race more deeply.

The plan will be overseen by the Office of Equity and Human Rights with direct management by Regional Arts & Culture Council. City and RACC officials say they've asked colleagues in other U.S. cities about equity plans for cultural funding and how to implement them but haven't found substantive examples. So they're on their own in coming up with Portland's diversity goals and how to achieve them.

Doug Stamm, executive director of the Meyer Memorial Trust, says the equity measures arrive at a timely moment. Foundations and the larger philanthropic world are also addressing them. Stamm feels it's appropriate for the city to establish a benchmark but to be flexible about it as long as progress is being made.

"Some groups may well exceed the goal and others won't be able to reach them despite good faith efforts," says Stamm. "Hence the need for some flexibility in the process or thought given to measuring 'true progress' rather than just looking at whether the benchmark was reached. All of this requires a serious, ongoing open and candid conversation because the ultimate goal is to ensure that we are indeed creating a rich, diverse and inclusive regional arts and culture landscape."

Tags: African Americans, age, arts, arts council, arts education, arts organizations, Asian Americans, audiences, board diversity, board member, boards, budget, children of color, communities of color, contractors, cultural funding, culture, dancer, disabled communities, diverse, diversity, diversity goals, diversity measures, economic disparity, equity, equity plans, ethnic, foundations, gender, grant applications, grants, hiring, human rights, inclusive, institutional racism, marketing, multiracial, Native Americans, nonprofits, non-white, outreach, patrons, people of color, philanthropy, poverty, programming, proposed tax levy, public arts funding, public funds, public money, public schools, race, racially diverse, racial diversity, racism, staff, stage, students, tolerant, underrepresentation, underserved, visible minorities, whites, women

Sub Categories

DIVERSITY: Social Policy
DIVERSITY: Leadership
DIVERSITY: Diversity and the Arts
DIVERSITY: Board Leadership
DIVERSITY: Disabled Community
DIVERSITY: African American / Black Community
DIVERSITY: Asian American
DIVERSITY: Administration
DIVERSITY: American Indian
DIVERSITY: Marketing
DIVERSITY: Development / Fundraising
DIVERSITY: Education
DIVERSITY: Audience Development
DIVERSITY: Socio-Economic Status
DIVERSITY: White/Caucasian