It’s National Arts & Humanities Month and in New Jersey that means it’s also Discover Jersey Arts Month, or its hashtag #ArtoberNJ. Every October, thousands of local arts and community leaders partner with Americans for the Arts to host Creative Conversations. A Creative Conversation gathers community leaders to discuss local arts, culture and creativity to generate partnerships and increase energy around the grassroots movement to elevate the arts in America.
ArtPride New Jersey is partnering with Rider University’s School of Fine and Performing Arts to bring together a group of Emerging Arts Leaders to network and share the joys, trials and tribulations of working as a young arts administrator in New Jersey.
On October 18 at Rider’s Science & Technology Building, the discussion will focus on Influence from the Middle and the role of entry and middle management to develop and implement ideas and strategies pertaining to equity in the arts as it related to diversity, inclusion and intersectionality.
What is most delightful about Creative Conversations is that emerging arts leaders own the topic, coordinate the event, recruit participants and rule the discussion. Their topic of choice this year demonstrates how critical the issue of equity is to the future of the nonprofit arts industry, not only in New Jersey, but throughout our nation.
This past summer Americans for the Arts adopted a Statement on Cultural Equity to ensure that all people—including but not limited to those who have been historically underrepresented based on race/ethnicity, age, ability, sexual orientation, gender, socioeconomic status, geography, citizenship status, or religion —are represented in the development of arts policy; the support of artists; the nurturing of accessible, thriving venues for expression; and the fair distribution of programmatic, financial, and informational resources.
At the same time that New Jersey emerging arts leaders meet in Lawrenceville, another discussion will take place in St. Paul, MN where Grantmakers in the Arts will tackle similar topics with sessions like Bridging Difference, Connecting Cultures and The Enrich Switch: Breaking Down the Racial Equity Arts Movement. Grantmakers in the Arts has also taken a national leadership role by adopting a Statement of Purpose on Racial Equity in arts philanthropy and has committed financial and human resources to address policies and practices that have resulted in unequal access to education and resources for African, Latino/a, Asian, Arab, and Native American (ALAANA) communities and artists.
Considering demographic trends, current events including the volatile nature of political discourse, the expanding notion of what art is and how people participate in cultural activities, and the financial challenges that face boards of nonprofit arts groups, these discussions are not only timely but essential.
It is gratifying to see conversations taking place at all levels of management, from philanthropic leaders whose grant making decisions affect balance sheets, to those who are not only working at ground level, but will inherit the fruits of their middle management influence.
Ann Marie Miller is the Director of Advocacy and Public Policy at ArtPride New Jersey and a regular contributor to the Dodge Blog. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Click here to visit ArtPride’s website.