Monday, October 14, 2013

Aaron Dworkin on Diversity Inclusion / Final GIA thoughts

Good morning.
"And the beat goes on......................."

Last Tuesday evening, Aaron Dworkin delivered an address at Carnegie Hall on the occasion of the Tenth Anniversary of the Sphinx Organization on the topic of diversity inclusion in American Orchestras.  In it he challenges arts funders to address the scarcity of multicultural artists in those orchestras.  The speech speaks for itself.  It can be accessed here.

Final thoughts on the GIA Conference.
There was, I think, an overall optimism at this conference.  Not that the funding pool will increase to meet the legitimate demand of artists and arts organizations, but that the public and private arts funding community is learning more about how to make the funds that are available work better for both artists and arts organizations; and those in this cohort are getting smarter about helping. And I think that optimism is well supported.

There were also a number of important issues that weren't discussed to the extent I think they need to be.  Those include:

1.  How the arts funder program officer can change the direction of their organization in ways that will benefit the field.  Specifically, how those program officers can make an effective case for changes with their Presidents, Executive Directors and Board members.  This is the elephant in the room; an area where there is virtually no conversation going on.  It is the unspoken reality that governs much of the approach funders (are allowed to) take.  But it is risky ground.  It needs to be talked about - for too many Boards are unaware of, and some are actually unwilling to consider, all the challenges the sector faces - the nuances, the ramifications, the impacts.

2.  Research - and particularly what research is defensible and what research is really ill advised.  Not every proposed research project is justified.  How do we make informed and rational decisions as to which is which.

3.  The equity, inclusion, diversity challenge.  We talk about it, we talk around it, but we must soon do something about it.  Yes, I grant you there has been progress.  But not enough, and too slow in coming.

4.  Cross funder collaboration and leveraging the power of the whole of the arts funding sphere.  We have made great strides in this area, but have a long way to go before we are anywhere near leveraging our collective power.  This is not an easy area in which to make advances, because virtually all funders are islands unto themselves, and that isolation and territoriality is very difficult to change.  But we are not having the collective impact we might by continuing to act as independently as we do.

I have faith movement is afoot and smarter people than I are moving mountains to come to terms with all of this and more.  It will take time, but one can hope not an unreasonable amount of time.

Have a great rest of the week.

Dinnervention Video coming very soon.

Don't Quit

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