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How do we create space for dialogue that goes beyond naval gazing to drive change?

Executive Director's Letter
November 25, 2014

In talking about the work of the GBCA and the Urban Arts Leadership Program (UALP), I have found myself defining the challenges we set out to address by saying that even with 30 years of effort on the part of well-intentioned people, nothing has happened to significantly increase the diversity and inclusion of the cultural workforce. Today, in the wake of the Ferguson decision, that seems grossly imprecise.

While I continue to believe in the spirit of the creative community, I may have been giving the impression that issues related to race in our sector are historically recent. 30 years? How about since the dawn of civilization, certainly even before the founding of the United States, greed, opportunism, and a strong belief in group superiority (and humanity) are woven with different themes throughout our history as a nation and in the value we attach to culture.

As we once again find ourselves swept up into a storm of bottled-up outrage, how do we respond? How do we create space for dialogue that goes beyond naval gazing to drive change? Learning about our history and heritage, exploring our humanity together through culture, providing all children with a complete education that includes the arts…these are all ways into some very hard and intentional work. Clearly the “just get over it” approach to racial disparity isn’t working so well, so why does it continue to be preached?

I count myself fortunate, thankful, and privileged in many ways, especially when my position at GBCA has allowed me to be in the room for some difficult conversations such as those convened by David Mitchell with the curriculum committee for UALP. It doesn’t make things seem easier, if anything it seems harder, but it has shone a light on what is possible.

I am also thankful to the more than 475 members of GBCA and the spirited, connected, and brilliant cultural sector in the Baltimore region.

All the best,

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