Arts Playlist: Examining equity and inclusion in the arts
The arts industry in the U.S. – boards, staff, artists, and even the patrons – is a historically and overwhelmingly white space.
In Delaware, equity in the arts is a glaring issue, but progress is quietly being made.
In this week’s Arts Playlist, Delaware Division of the Arts director Jessica Ball joins Delaware Public Media’s Kyle McKinnon to discuss arts and equity in the First State.
“In the Division we believe that diversity, equity, inclusion, and access in the arts can take many forms. But generally, it means a wide range of voices and perspectives are represented and heard in the arts. It means creating an inclusive and welcoming environment for all individuals regardless of their background,” said Delaware Division of the Arts director Jessica Ball.
The arts industry in the U.S. is a historically and overwhelmingly white space.
In Delaware, efforts are being made to clear a path for marginalized voices in the arts.
But Ball says change doesn’t come easily for a variety of reasons.
“Historically the industry has had a lack of representation of marginalized groups, particularly in leadership roles. Which can make it difficult for these groups to advocate for change, and have their experiences and perspectives taken into account in major decision-making,” she explained.
Racism within the arts and culture sector was already set to face a reckoning- but in 2020 the pandemic and the activism following George Floyd’s murder gave the movement momentum.
DDOA collaborated with the Delaware Arts Alliance to conduct an informal needs assessment of Delaware’s arts and culture organizations, with responses leading to the State of Delaware committing $3 million in seed funding to the Delaware Arts Equity and Innovation Incubator.
“This eight-month process prepares them to pilot new initiatives, programs, or practices, with technical support and expertise that they often don’t have internally within their organizations, and through financial support from the Division,” Ball explained.
Ball reports that so far this pilot program has been successful, with the first group of five organizations reporting positive feedback, and a second group in progress.
Jessica Ball's article on equity and inclusion in the arts can be read here: Delaware arts groups must serve and reflect entire state