Wednesday, November 25, 2015

The war of equity in the arts: What’s the Endgame?

By Ernest Disney-Britton

Everybody’s talking about equity but no one is focused on creating equity. That’s a big problem. In June 2015, Tom Finkelpearl Commissioner, NYC Department of Cultural Affairs and Jane Chu, Chairman, National Endowment for the Arts, talked onstage during Americans for the Arts about empowering equity and innovation through the arts. What is the endgame for these conversations? First of all, attracting minority audiences to non-minority arts programs cannot be the goal. Rather, the aim is to create equitable access to the arts for all audiences must be the goal. Theaster Gates added, "There are gems that just need to be polished," as he continued the Finkelpearl-Chu theme in talking about the resources in underserved communities. Equity then is not about destroying the classical Western canon; it’s about building a new American canon that includes the assets in our own communities too.