All people, everywhere, have the right to inherit and develop their intellectual, emotional, material, and spiritual tradition — it is called cultural equity. It values the unique and collective cultures of diverse communities and supports one’s existence. While cultural equity is suppose to honor the embodiment of values, policies and practices that ensure all types of people are represented. It is an important milestone, yet a defining problem of the 21st Century.
Those who have been underrepresented based on race/ethnicity, age, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, geography, citizen status, or disability, are victims of cultural inequity. W.E.B. DuBois, a towering figure on the American cultural landscape and one of the founders of the NAACP, described it once as art “About us, by us, for us, and near us.”
Regardless of which sectors or place-based initiatives are attempting to plan for cultural equity, intentional practices that contribute to an equitable plan include data disaggregation, participatory research, and creative design processes that manifest community visions. (http://createquity.com/2016/08/making-sense-of-cultural-equity/)
Building in resources and time for government staff and community leaders to deepen their expertise is critical to achieving consistent, meaningful racial and social equity practices. Take a look at Americans for the Arts for example. They:
- Identified the need for additional training and engagement, recognizing that different staff members required different approaches,
- Created a task force that engaged the board and the staff effectively in the process of creating a statement,
- Found inspiration in others – for example, the Grantmakers in the Arts racial Equity Statement and Becoming an Anti-Racist Multicultural Organization Equity Manifesto.
- Created working definitions that everyone could understand for concepts like diversity, equity, and inclusion,
- Named starting conditions that took into consideration our country, their beliefs, and the mission of our organization,
- Narrowed area of focus and goals based on their area of expertise and strategic plan.
- Created drafts – ultimately, their cultural equity statement was the result of 13 drafts and the input of our task force and stakeholders,
- They got their draft to the stakeholders for additional input, which included local art agencies, government, foundations, and more,
- Created benchmarks to measure their success – creating a statement is one thing, and measuring it is another. They mapped for progress, which required specific goal setting, and
- Presented the final statement, and kept the conversation going. A cultural equity statement is only as good as the dialogue and action it produces.
Here are steps you can take to promote cultural equity:
- Build cultural consciousness by substantive learning
- Create and support programs to improve cultural leadership
- Advocate for public and private-sectors that promote cultural equity
- Generate quantitative and qualitative research related to equity that is measurable progress towards cultural equity.
Most importantly, it is vital to acknowledge any inequities first, and then take action. Cultural plans helps towns, cities, counties, regions, and states, take account of their cultural assets and strengthen their economies by leveraging these assets.
Take action and contact Schabel Solutions to get started on developing a strategic cultural plan.