Ensuring artists of all backgrounds and identities are included in our cultural narrative is central to having an accurate and fair depiction of our society. Artist Trust exists to bolster the work of all artists throughout Washington State. We do this by providing funding, business practice trainings, and other resources to artists of all disciplines regardless of their socioeconomic status, race, ethnicity, nationality, geography, language, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, religion, mental and physical status, or age. Artist Trust recognizes and is committed to addressing historical and ongoing disparities in access to institutional funding, recognition, business practices, and job opportunities. In an effort to create equitable outcomes for all, we especially invite artists of African diasporic, Latinx, Asian, Arab, and Native American identities to apply for our grants, participate in programs, and engage us as partners in building competitive applications, navigating their careers, and making lives as professional artists.
Shifting paradigms in programs, operations, and communications
Artist Trust acknowledges that people of African diasporic, Latinx, Asian, Arab, and Native American backgrounds are underrepresented throughout the cultural sector due to barriers such as: historical and ongoing disparities in access to resources, pervasive cultural biases resulting in institutional and structural racism, and other challenges specific to each of those communities. To address this, we are:
· Embracing the values of forward-thought, openness, responsiveness, and
· Nurturing cultural pluralism as an institutional norm;
· Building cultural competence and fluency at all levels of the organization;
· Increasing transparency and accessibility in all program areas;
· Collaborating and sharing resources with peer organizations dismantling institutional racism;
· Accounting for the ways in which individual decision-makers’ biases lead to inequitable institutional decisions;
· Cultivating diversity in our staff, board, and donor base in order to balance decision-making power among stakeholders of all backgrounds.
What we’ve done so far
· Implemented Final Report findings from Artists Up, a coalition between Artist Trust, Seattle Office of Arts & Culture, and 4Culture, which held focus-group discussions with artists of color to gather recommendations on how to make funding more accessible. Artist Trust is actively integrating these findings into its flagship funding programs;
· Participated in Turning Commitment into Action for Arts & Cultural Groups 2015, a learning cohort facilitated by the City of Seattle’s Office for Civil Rights and Office of Arts & Culture. This training series provided guidance to 30 organizations on reviewing programs and processes through a lens of racial equity;
· Updated all grant- and program-related messaging towards a tone of openness and approachability, with an emphasis on using accessible and inclusive language;
· Removed Artist Trust Membership as a barrier to accessing feedback on grant applications;
· Balanced grant selection panels to more fully include people of color, and empowered their voices with a stronger institutional stance on equity throughout grant guidelines and selection processes;
· Ensured that our business practice trainings implement equitable hiring practices, with an emphasis on hiring people of color as instructors;
· Established scholarship support for artists of color to increase financial accessibility to business practice trainings.
What we’re doing right now
· Conducting an organization-wide cultural bias assessment to identify how
our practices might disadvantage people of color, whether they are
approaching Artist Trust as artists seeking funding or business practice
trainings, as candidates for positions on the staff or Board of Directors,
or as vendors, contractors, volunteers, or engaged community members;
· Establishing racial equity as a core tenet of the Artist Trust Board of Directors’ Strategic Vision Committee;
· Building racial equity assessments of programs and operations into annual planning, budgeting, and review cycles.
What we will continue to do
· Engage with communities and artists of color for feedback on our
policies, practices, and programs;
· Participate in the national conversation on racial equity among grantmaking organizations through both formal (conferences, summits, etc.) and informal settings;
· Experiment with programming models to increase overall accessibility;
· Leverage our visibility to advocate on behalf of artists, particularly around issues that disproportionately impact artists from historically marginalized communities.
Artist Trust is looking at organization-wide practices through a racial equity lens as a way of addressing socio-cultural and economic barriers for artists at all intersections of identities. Our racial equity framework is as dynamic as the work it supports; it is bound to change as we continue to learn and grow in our understanding of and approach to equitable practices in the arts sector. Artist Trust invites artists and community members of all backgrounds and identities to join us in conversation around these issues. We are always open to feedback, thoughtful dialogue, and ideas that will move this work forward both within our organization and the community at large. Find our contact information here.