Our Commitment to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
The Arts Council respects and values the full spectrum of self-defining differences among people. The Arts Council is committed to reflecting that diversity in the composition of its Board and staff, and throughout all aspects of The Arts Council’s operations, including in the outcomes and other impacts of its work. Anchored by that core commitment, The Arts Council strives proactively to promote an environment and experiences in our community that includes, celebrates and supports, in an equitable manner, the needs, perspectives and contributions of all people in our diverse community.
The above statement was adopted by our Board of Directors to reflect The Arts Council’s longstanding, multi-faceted, commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion as a strategic imperative. Its three sentences establish several values and principles that are foundational prerequisites for diversity. They reflect our core beliefs, and they infuse and motivate all of our work.
We believe inclusion is an integral component of diversity; there is no diversity without inclusion. We believe equity is what makes diversity real; inequitable treatment of diverse people makes a farce of a purported commitment to diversity. And, as a threshold principle, we believe the touchstone for diversity is accepting and respecting the “self-defining” differences among people.
At the individual level, self-defining differences derive from the traits, beliefs or other factors with which an individual identifies in stating or projecting what is important to her, him or them at an intimate and personal level. That is, the level at which an individual’s personhood is established and manifested.
Beyond obvious or immutable traits or factors that are a matter of physiology or anatomy – such as race or gender – self-defining differences include ones that may be less obvious, such as ethnicity or national origins, religious belief and sexual orientation. They include others that are embraced and manifested as a matter of personhood.
Among groups of people, therefore, self-defining differences are those potentially diverse things about people that they themselves believe define who they are in relationship to other people. We believe all self-defining differences must be respected; none of them is a basis for differential treatment of people.
All diverse people must be included for consideration and assessment without regards to any self-defining difference. Their needs and aspirations must be recognized. Their contributions must be acknowledged and valued. Their voices and perspectives must be heard. Their presence and participation must be proactively facilitated.
These are foundational prerequisites for inclusion and equity, and thus for diversity itself. They must be a part of any commitment to diversity that seeks substantial and sustainable outcomes.
The Arts Council is committed to pursuing and achieving all of them. We strive to reflect them in all aspects of our operations and work – from our governance and staffing profiles, to our development and implementation of programs and initiatives that provide support and other services to arts organizations and artists, to our interactions otherwise with the diverse peoples of our community and beyond.
Our commitment to diversity underlies our strategic vision,
and is reflected in our mantra of “Touching Every Corner” of our community.