NASAA Notes: December 2019


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Pam Breaux

December issue
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December 3, 2019

NASAA Continues to Prioritize Advancing Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

As NASAA continues to prioritize advancing diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) internally and at state arts agencies, I’m pleased to call to your attention our updated list of operational and programmatic DEI activities. As a field, state arts agencies are advancing diversity, equity and inclusion, yet there is still much work to be done. It’s NASAA’s job to provide the leadership, resources and training needed to empower your agency to achieve diverse, equitable and inclusive policies, practices and programs. We began this journey in earnest with the adoption of NASAA’s DEI policy statement. We also centered this important work within our strategic plan, and we keep our focus current as we craft our annual action plans. Within the fiscal year 2020 action plan, you’ll find that advancing diversity, equity and inclusion is one of four key priorities for NASAA, and we embody these principles by integrating them within activities across all of our goals.

I’d like to highlight a few of the activities we engaged in during 2019: 

  • NASAA examined the distribution of state arts agency grant investments and established national benchmarks for rural equity, economic equity and race equity. We published these three interactive dashboards to tell the story of state arts agencies’ investments and articulate areas where there is room for collective improvement.
  • We also introduced a new generation of state level equity dashboards, expanding our suite of services to state arts agencies. These updated dashboards enable agencies to see changes in year-to-year grants distributed and population shifts. This tool will help us gauge how state arts agencies are advancing equity within their grant-making portfolios.
  • To ensure our work responds to ongoing member needs, NASAA’s annual interviews of all executive directors and council chairs now include questions about how NASAA can best assist state arts agencies with diversity, equity and inclusion. We use this annual feedback to help us design programs and services to enable members to translate DEI principles into action.
  • NASAA’s affinity group for people of color includes state arts agency staff and council members. Self-organized around topics of interest to the cohort, the group now convenes quarterly and keeps connected via a listserv to support its members throughout the year.
  • We also completed the pilot year of NASAA’s mentorship program for people of color. Twenty-one people participated in the program, and mentees reported receiving significant value from the experience. The cohort helped us finalize this year’s work by jointly convening to provide inspiration and recommendations for future mentorship activities.

As we look ahead to 2020, some of our DEI activities include:

  • collaborating with rural coalition partners to promote the arts as an integral part of rural economic development policy;
  • conducting case studies of programmatic and policy changes being tackled by state arts agencies;
  • showcasing examples of how state arts agencies are tailoring services to rural, tribal, remote and low-income communities;
  • developing state arts agency self-assessment checklists to help members reduce bias in grant-making practices;
  • continuing our mentorship program for people of color (stay tuned for upcoming announcements) as well as our affinity group.

As we continue this journey, you can count on NASAA to remain committed to ongoing reflection, dialogue and learning to advance diversity, equity and inclusion authentically and alongside state arts agencies. You can also count on us to be transparent and keep you updated about this work; check out the Best Practices page of NASAA’s website to see the latest. And as always, 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 together.

In this Issue

From the President and CEO

State to State

Legislative Update

Announcements and Resources

More Notes from NASAA




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