Moving Forward in Community With Artists

Published: October 28, 2020

Categories: Featured

Signers of the Artist Distrust Open Letter helped set the groundwork for a better Artist Trust. We’re excited to update our community on the steps we have taken so far in our response, as well as what is on the horizon:

After thorough research and reflective discussion among board and staff, we realize now our original response and timeline did not consider the time and true commitment needed to do this work. Making space for conversations with artists and community members, centering racial and geographic equity, moving our grantmaking forward, and giving ourselves and our community time to plan, think, convene, recover, and heal are just a few of the considerations we need to carry forward with us. This is thoughtful, important work that will take time.

Thanks to the call for change, there have been significant developments at Artist Trust, including who is on staff, and with our work moving forward. The departure of two leadership level positions has created the opportunity to potentially reinvent what staffing looks like at Artist Trust. We are working on a roadmap to guide that process with clear channels for community participation and feedback. As part of that feedback gathering, we have planned a series of moderated virtual Community Conversations. Our first Conversation, coming up on Thursday, November 12, uses the framing question What does it mean to be in community with artists? to take a deeper look at our mission, vision, and values. Staff and board will be present as active listeners, and to provide context and information when needed. The feedback shared will help shape our transforming organization. Look for more information, including how to RSVP, in our November newsletter.

Our new Racial Equity Committee has met bi-monthly since August. Top priorities have included increasing the racial equity knowledge of staff and board through conversation and training, equitable compensation for artists (now part of our 2021 budget plan, with more to come), and the creation of a Call for Proposals from racial equity consultants, teams, and/or artists for an audit of the full organization, including our grantmaking and decision-making processes. This call will be released to the public in mid-November, with the work beginning in early 2021. We’ve also created a new open application for our volunteer Board of Trustees and we invite you to apply to serve alongside us as leaders at this pivotal moment.

Our grantmaking for artists continues in earnest. In August, we announced the recipients of the 2020 Arts Innovator Award as selected by the panelists and released a public apology. Since then, we have convened a workgroup of AIA panelists and finalists to look deeper at the process, what broke down, and what needs to change, with this work continuing through the end of the year. The 2020 Twining Humber and SOLA recipients were announced on October 13, and recipients of the delayed 2020 Fellowships will be announced in January.  Co-Program Managers Luther Hughes and Lydia Boss are currently leading our programming efforts on the staff team. Their recent Behind the Scenes look at our grantmaking includes an update on the community feedback they have already incorporated into our processes, with much more to come.

Thank you again for being with us on this journey! The items listed above are just the beginning. If you are not already subscribed, you can continue to follow our progress by joining our general mailing list. We would also welcome hearing your thoughts, concerns, and questions directly – contact the Artist Trust Board of Trustees at