2022 NASAA Leadership Awards: Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Agency Award

Mass Cultural Council

The National Assembly of State Arts Agencies (NASAA) has named Mass Cultural Council the recipient of the 2022 Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Agency Award. This award recognizes a state arts agency that has fostered and developed diversity, equity and inclusion in its work and shown insight and fortitude in advancing DEI across the state. The award will be presented on September 24 during NASAA Assembly 2022 in Kansas City, Missouri.

Under the guidance of Michael J. Bobbitt, Mass Cultural Council administers all of its programs and services with racial equity and access goals in mind. Recent efforts include: training staff and council members in diversity, equity and inclusion; hiring its first director of people & culture, as well as four outreach coordinators to work with BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and/or people of color) communities that have been historically un- or under-funded; and, with a one-time COVID-19 relief program for Asian American and Pacific Islander cultural organizations, developing new tools and outreach strategies to connect with constituents in their preferred language.

Massachusetts based Latinx artist Silvia Lopez Chavez partnered with Mass Cultural Council’s grantee GreenRoots Chelsea to conceptualize, design and paint the Chelsea Resilience Mural in collaboration with the Chelsea Cultural Council.

In 2021, Mass Cultural Council developed its first Racial Equity Plan, which outlines internal and external actions to ensure programs and resources are accessible and delivered equitably across the sector. Under Bobbitt’s leadership, the agency’s external engagement model actively recruits and builds relationships across all communities to ensure that resources are available and accessible across the cultural sector. Mass Cultural Council’s Racial Equity Plan has received national attention: in June 2022, Mass Cultural Council was recognized by Empower Success Corps for leadership in helping cultural nonprofits navigate the pandemic landscape and for advocating strongly for equitable funding and increased funding for the arts. By achieving the goals outlined in the Racial Equity Plan, Mass Cultural Council hopes to ensure a more equitably financed cultural sector across all Massachusetts communities.

“NASAA congratulates Mass Cultural Council as the 2022 recipient of the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Award, our field’s highest honor for a state arts agency demonstrating innovative and exceptional efforts to support and advance DEI in its state,” said NASAA President and CEO Pam Breaux. “Mass Cultural Council’s deep commitment to investing financial, programmatic and informational resources equitably is truly exemplary—a wonderful model to lift up for other state arts agencies. NASAA is thrilled to recognize Mass Cultural Council’s sustained, far-sighted and impactful achievements with this award.”

NASAA established the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Awards to recognize the policies, practices and programs of state arts agencies that embrace and advance diversity, equity and inclusion in their states. NASAA celebrates the diversity that enriches and strengthens our nation, and through this award aims to support and elevate state arts agencies in their efforts to lead in this area. The award for agencies includes $2,500 to be used in support of the recipients’ diversity, equity and inclusion work.

Previous DEI Agency Award Recipients

2020 Colorado Creative Industries

2022 Leadership Awards Task Force

CHAIR: Carla Du Pree, Former Vice Chair, Maryland
Mary Bordeaux, Chair, South Dakota
Victoria Panella Bourns, Director, Utah
Chris Cathers, Executive Director, Kentucky
Stephanie Conner, Chair, Tennessee
Gary Gibbs, Executive Director, Texas
Abigail Gómez, Former Chair, Virginia
Peter Jasso, Former Director, Kansas
Adriane Jefferson, Council Member, Connecticut
Nola Ruth, Council Member, Missouri
Allison Tratner, Executive Director, New Jersey
George Tzougros, Executive Director, Wisconsin
Bhavna Vasudeva, Council Member, South Carolina