November 7, 2017
Advancing Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at NASAA and at SAAs
I’m sure you recall that NASAA’s board of directors approved a new policy statement designed to advance diversity, equity and inclusion at NASAA and at state arts agencies (SAAs). Fueled by thoughtful research and conversations from our Governance Committee, as well as input from members, the policy informs our work. I’m proud of what we’ve accomplished already and look forward to our continued work.
The policy statement requires certain actions of NASAA. I’d like to remind you of those requirements, share how we’re fulfilling them and review near-term action strategies. To begin, we dedicated ourselves to the following:
- We committed to ongoing reflection, dialogue and learning to accomplish our diversity, equity and inclusion work authentically and alongside SAAs.
- We committed to providing leadership, resources and training to empower SAAs to uphold diversity, equity and inclusion in their policies, practices and programs. Within NASAA’s portfolio on behalf of SAAs, we dedicated ourselves to work that removes barriers to diversity, equity and inclusion.
- We specifically noted “equitable funding practices” as an important place to focus—not our only focus, but one important enough to state within our policy.
- We also committed to advancing diversity, equity and inclusion at NASAA in our governance and management practices and in our programs and services.
For your reference, here is a chronological list of NASAA’s diversity, equity and inclusion activities.
Under the banner of ongoing reflection, dialogue and learning, key activities include:
- The NASAA board has considered, discussed and guided this work during four face-to-face convenings over the course of two years.
- Forty member states actively engaged in developing our diversity, equity and inclusion statement. SAA council members, executive directors and staff members holding a variety of positions provided important insights and guidance, and all their comments were considered, with many being infused into the policy.
- Moving forward, we will continue involving the Governance Committee and the board of directors regularly in this work, committing to needed reflection and dialogue. Other parts of NASAA will engage as well. The Planning and Budget Committee, for example, tracks all activities and will certainly do the same for this work. We’ll also explore diversity, equity and inclusion learning opportunities for our board and staff. This work is becoming a new part of NASAA’s DNA, and learning across the agency is fundamental to that work.
Under the banner of providing leadership, resources and training to SAAs, key activities include:
- NASAA provided nine distinct trainings related to diversity, equity and inclusion at Assemblies, Leadership Institutes, the Professional Development Institute for arts education managers, web seminars and facilitation services. We have also created and distributed four publications and tools to help SAAs navigate this work. They include a national SAA strategy sampler, infographics and a new SAA tool designed to visualize demographics in grant making. See NASAA’s featured resources on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.
- Moving forward, our 2018 activities include (1) providing customized assistance to SAAs in visualizing and analyzing demographics in grant-making portfolios, (2) creating a self-assessment tool to assist SAAs in diagnosing (in)equity and bias in grants programs, and (3) developing a mentorship program for SAA staff members of color.
Under the banner of advancing diversity, equity and inclusion at NASAA (in governance, management and programs), key activities include:
- Our Governance Committee recommended action steps that are now embedded in NASAA’s new strategic plan and 2018 action plan. The committee will continue to connect itself and the NASAA board to this work.
- With respect to management practices, we have accomplished the following: (1) updated our employee manual, including enhancing its equal opportunity statement; (2) improved outreach strategies for attracting diverse candidates for employment at NASAA; (3) improved administration of requests for proposals for contractors—this includes inviting diverse arrays of companies to respond to requests for proposals.
- We’re also expanding NASAA’s capacity to provide meaningful services that advance diversity, equity and inclusion. Beyond the tools and resources referenced earlier, we’re connecting our professional development to this work. NASAA Chief Program and Planning Officer Kelly Barsdate is now enrolled in a top-notch facilitation certification program that includes a focus on navigating cultural diversity and human dynamics. This positions her to meet the demands of our new strategic plan as well as our commitment to advancing diversity, equity and inclusion. In addition, I have personally joined the steering committee of the Equity in the Panel Room Project, designed to investigate and research the grant-making process through the lens of equity. I look forward to learning from this project and bringing its teachings to the state arts agency field.
Finally, the Governance Committee has placed several ideas in the hopper for future consideration. In no particular order, those diversity, equity and inclusion ideas include:
- Regularly showcase best practices in advancing diversity, equity and inclusion from SAAs and other sources.
- Regularly provide training for SAA boards and staffs.
- Work with a cohort of SAAs to provide training for transformative work. Repeat, including additional SAAs.
- Develop mentorship and leadership development opportunities for diverse cohorts of SAA staffs. Learn from this work and continue it.
- Assist SAAs individually and collectively to evaluate their grant making through the lens of equity. Keep deepening this work.
- Are there partnerships NASAA should seek to help advance this work?
- Incorporate metrics for advancing diversity, equity and inclusion within NASAA’s portfolio of benchmarking and/or assessments.
- Help SAAs effectively make the case for advancing diversity and equity within their authorizing environments.
- Provide guidance to SAAs on how to diversify staffs.
- Diversify the NASAA board, including work across diverse sectors.
- Review programmatic best practices from national arts service organizations. Mine those practices for partnership potential.
We’ll keep you informed as we advance this work. Your ideas about how we move forward are always informative and welcome, so please feel free to let me know your thoughts and suggestions as we continue this journey.
In this Issue
From the President and CEO
Announcements and Resources
State to State
- Mississippi: Mississippi History through the Arts Curriculum
- North Carolina: Arts Across NC Podcast
- Massachusetts: EBT Card to Culture
Research on Demand
More Notes from NASAASubscribe