New Tool from NASAA: Equity Choice Points!

The public sector holds a special responsibility to ensure that the arts enable well-being and prosperity for all in America. Since their inception, state arts agencies have worked to democratize access to the arts. But we have more work to do before we achieve true funding equity for people and places with historically limited resources—especially people of color, rural communities, older adults, LGBTQA+ populations and individuals with disabilities.

NASAA is committed to helping state arts  agencies surmount these obstacles and attain more equitable and inclusive arts funding systems. In that spirit, we’re pleased to announce Equity Choice Points: A Grant- making Reflection Tool for State Arts Agencies.

This brand-new guide examines common grant-making practices and policy structures that have deep roots in our field and may hold reservoirs of unintended bias. It can help you diagnose barriers that may be embedded in:

  • eligibility factors
  • adjudication criteria
  • definitions of excellence
  • panel practices
  • award structures . . and more!

Each state—and each state arts agency—is unique and will approach equity in its own way. For this reason Equity Choice Points offers examples from 13 different states to illustrate various pathways to change. An extensive collection of resources and case studies from public funders and private foundations supports your ongoing learning.

It takes a village to do this work, and your NASAA community is here to help. If you’d like a sounding board, please reach out to NASAA staff at any time. To hear how some of your peers are rethinking their grant strategies, check out the transcript and highlight reel from our recent Equity Choice Points online discussion, featuring the California Arts Council, the Maryland State Arts Council and the New England Foundation for the Arts.

We hope that this new tool—along with NASAA’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion resources and our Inclusive Language Guide—are useful in your state. We look forward to hearing about your experiences and, as always, we welcome your ideas and feedback.

With deep regard for all you do to sustain the arts,

Signature of Pam Breaux CEO NASAA Signature of Kelly Barsdate Chief Program & Planning Officer NASAA
Pam Breaux, President and CEO Kelly Barsdate, Chief Program and Planning Officer