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This report discusses a series of broad lessons that emerged from the literature of diversity, cultural equity, and inclusion in arts and culture. Author(s) : Bronwyn Mauldin, Susannah Laramee Kidd, PhD, and Jesse Ruskin, PhD




Bronwyn Mauldin  

Susannah Laramee Kidd, PhD 

Jesse Ruskin, PhD 

with assistance from  

Matthew Agustin 

March 30, 2016



Literature Review  


Introduction……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………… 3
Diversity, Cultural Equity and Inclusion in Arts and Culture…………………………………………………………….. 4
A Note on Language ………………………………………………………………………………………………………………. 7 Limitations……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………. 7
Boards of Directors in Arts and Culture Organizations……………………………………………………………………. 9
Arts Nonprofit Board Diversity: Current Status………………………………………………………………………….. 9
Dimensions to Increasing Effective Board Diversity ………………………………………………………………….. 10
Role of Funders……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………. 14
The Arts and Culture Workforce………………………………………………………………………………………………… 16
Who Works in the Arts? ……………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 16
Theories, Proposals and Models for Increasing Cultural Equity and Inclusion in the Workforce …….. 22
Building Alternative Pipelines to Arts and Culture Employment…………………………………………………. 26
The Role of Funders……………………………………………………………………………………………………………… 32
Audiences and Programming ……………………………………………………………………………………………………. 35
Evolving Ideas about Audiences and Programming ………………………………………………………………….. 35
Efforts to Measure and Understand Audience Diversity……………………………………………………………. 36
Promising Practices: Museums………………………………………………………………………………………………. 42
Promising Practices: Performing Arts Organizations…………………………………………………………………. 47
Funding for Diversity and Equity ……………………………………………………………………………………………. 49

Cultural Equity and Inclusion Initiative 1 Literature Review 

Culturally Specific Arts Organizations…………………………………………………………………………………………. 53
What and Who are Culturally Specific Arts Organizations? ……………………………………………………….. 54
Defining Success in Culturally Specific Arts Organizations…………………………………………………………. 55
Promising Practices: Models for Supporting Culturally Specific Arts Organizations/Activities………… 57 

Conclusion ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………… 61 References……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………… 63

Cultural Equity and Inclusion Initiative 2 Literature Review 


In its motion passed on November 10, 2015, the LA County Board of Supervisors stated their goal as  improving “diversity in cultural organizations, in the areas of their leadership, staffing, programming and  

audience composition.”1 

This literature review is intended to investigate and provide background  

information on how others have addressed this question, both through academic research and  practitioner experience.  

The literature lends these concepts into a division by slightly different categories, as follows: 

Boards of Directors in Arts and Culture Organizations  

The Arts and Culture Workforce  

Audiences and Programming  

Audiences and programming are closely intertwined in the literature, and thus are combined in this  report.  

Culturally specific arts organizations and their potential contribution to diversity, cultural equity and  inclusion in the arts ecology emerged as a potentially powerful but not yet fully understood set of actors,  so this topic was added as a fourth section in this report: 

Culturally Specific Arts Organizations  

In addition, two case studies are offered of public arts agencies – one in Oregon and one in England – that  have done notable work around diversity, cultural equity and inclusion.  

The report begins with a background discussion on diversity, cultural equity and inclusion in arts and  culture, and it concludes with a series of broad lessons that emerged from the literature that apply to all  four of the areas identified by the Board of Supervisors in their motion.  


1 For the full text of the motion, see

Cultural Equity and Inclusion Initiative 3 Literature Review 


In the US, discussions about diversity and cultural equity in the arts related to public policy date at least as  far back as the founding of the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) in 1965. The emergence of the  NEA raised pointed questions about the public or “social value” of art as opposed to its aesthetic or  “intrinsic value.” The NEA ultimately attempted to balance these “populist” and “elitist” perspectives,  with the understanding that “art for art’s sake has never been a sufficient rationale for public support of  the arts” (Mulcahy & Wyzomirski, 1995). In fact, “old” ideas about art such as limiting audience  participation to a passive role and a focus on art for art’s sake have come to be seen as a barrier to  discovering the roles art and cultural activities can play in bringing diverse people together through an  artistic process that reveals cultural assets and strengthens communities (Jackson, 2009). The term  “cultural equity” appears as early as 1978 in an NEA audience study where it is defined as a right to be  both a producer and consumer of culture.  

While these terms and concepts have changed over time, discussions of diversity, cultural equity and  inclusion in the field of arts and culture have not moved in a linear fashion. Language used to write and  talk about those issues has changed, as have definitions of the “problem” to be “solved.” However, issues  raised as early as 1965 and even earlier continue to be issues today. 

In recent US history there have been two periods of high interest in “affirmative action.” The first  occurred approximately from 1972 to the early 1980s and the second in the 1990s, approximately the  same time period as the Clinton administration (Cuyler, 2013). In the mid-2010s major concerns about  diversity, cultural equity and inclusion have again arisen in public discourse as seen in LGBTQ organizing  for marriage equality has seen major victories, the Black Lives Matter movement has grown to be a major  political force, and the largest wave of refugees since World War II has begun to move across the globe. It  is in this context that several leading arts and culture organizations announced new efforts and initiatives  around diversity, cultural equity and inclusion, including the following:  

Grantmakers in the Arts adopted a statement of purpose for their work in racial equity in arts  philanthropy to increase arts funding for ALAANA (African, Latino(a), Asian, Arab, and Native  American) artists, arts organizations, children, and adults 

DataArts (formerly the Cultural Data Project) piloted a new tool to collect demographic data  about staff, board members and volunteers in arts nonprofits  

The New York City Department of Cultural Affairs collected diversity data from across the many  museums and performing arts groups in the five boroughs 

While each of these occurred in 2015, they were the product of many months and even years of  discussion around the issue. Those discussions have influenced actions by many smaller organizations as  well, and the full range of performance, policy, data and other impacts are still unfolding.

Cultural Equity and Inclusion Initiative 4 Literature Review 

Certain “habits” of arts policymaking in the U.S. are argued to have hindered true cultural pluralism (Price,  1994). The maintenance of European disciplinary boundaries has led to the de facto marginalization and  devaluation of art forms and expressive practices that do not fit within such confines. Excluding informal,  interdisciplinary, and popular arts from policy considerations, Price suggests, fails to account for the  diverse ways in which culture is produced and consumed today. Equally problematic is adherence to  narrow models of audience development, such as “multicultural marketing,” in which people of color bear  the burden of diversifying the audiences or programs of dominant-culture institutions that are generally  European in origin and orientation. The “professionalization of arts interests” has led to the emergence of  relatively powerful constituencies of arts professionals favored by state, regional and federal arts  agencies. As a result, arts organizations of color, culturally specific organizations, and community-based  

organizations tend to be smaller2 

, and in some cases less professionalized, so they do not have the same  

level of access to or influence within dominant arts infrastructures (Price, 1994). Two key assumptions made by dominant-culture arts  

institutions and organizations are particularly important in this  discussion of diversity, cultural equity and inclusion in the arts  (Price, 1994). First is the misleading assumption that “parity of  funding” – budget and staff time devoted to diversity initiatives  

as well as to quantitative measures of outcome – is an  adequate indicator of equity in the arts. It is equally important,  he says, for arts institutions and organizations to be aware of  shifting demographics, and to engage the public in discussions  about what they need and what they value culturally and  

“Because of its public voice, the  cultural sector is influential in shaping  wider social attitudes to equality and  diversity”  

— Andy Parkinson and Jamie Buttrick,  reporting to Arts Council England

artistically. Second is the notion that European arts are of broad human interest, whereas arts originating  from communities of color relate to, and are representative of, that group only. Price (1994) argues that  cultural pluralism should be important to all American communities. 

Too often, businesses treat diversity as a compliance requirement, a box that must be checked. This  misses the advantages that come from “creating a work environment that promotes inclusion in all its  variations” (Bourke, Smith, Stockton & Wakefield, 2014). Arts Council England, by contrast, has begun to  reframe its interest in diversity as moving from a focus on remedying past imbalances toward a positive  celebration of diversity (Arts Council England, 2015b). 

“Cultural equity,” “inclusion” and “diversity” are three terms that are often used interchangeably, though  they mean subtly different things. These terms are also defined by how they are used in practice. Below  are several examples of how they have been defined by practitioners working in the arts and culture field. 


2 Definitions of “small” in arts nonprofits can vary by discipline, geography and funder. The LA County Arts  Commission’s Organizational Grants Program defines its OGP 1 organizations as those with an annual budget of  up to $199,999.  

Cultural Equity and Inclusion Initiative 5 Literature Review 

In its work to improve diversity in the arts sector, Arts Council England refers to race, ethnicity,  faith, disability, age, gender, sexuality, class and economic disadvantage, and any social or  institutional barriers that prevent people from creating, participating or enjoying the arts (Arts  Council England, 2015b).  

One consultant review of 21 initiatives to expand diversity in arts and culture nonprofits found  many different aspects of diversity to be included, and that they varied by initiative. The top five  elements of diversity across all 21 initiatives were age, race, culture, socioeconomic status and  ethnicity (Smith, 2013). 

HBO’s writing fellowship targeting diverse writers defines it as anyone who identifies as Asian Pacific, Sub-Continent Asian, African American, Hispanic, Native American, Middle Eastern,  and/or women (HBO, 2015).  

In its statement of core values, Theatre Communications Group (TCG) has defined diversity as  “the plurality of aesthetic, perspective, race, class, gender, age, mission, as well as organizational  size and structure” (Theatre Communications Group, n.d.a.).  

A review of the literature related to audiences, participation, workforce and access to finance in  the arts ultimately recommended that efforts to increase diversity “view inequality across a  number of protected characteristics with socio-economic status as a key, cross-cutting feature”  (Parkinson & Buttrick, 2014).  

In order to measure change in diversity, cultural equity and inclusion in the arts, then terms must be  defined, clear goals must be set and data collected over time. In addition to establishing baselines for  improvement and benchmarks to achieve, standardized definitions as well as common data collection  procedures are needed in order to compare across organizations, disciplines and geographic regions  (Smith, 2013). Just as important, the level at which progress is to be measured is necessary. Should  diversity be measured within individual institutions, across all of Los Angeles County, within specific  disciplines, or at other levels? The goals set by the Advisory Committee should ultimately drive how data  is collected and success measured.  

While this literature review is divided into four sections, in practice, boards, workforce, audiences and  programming are closely interconnected, and the role of culturally specific arts organizations are relevant  in all four areas. For example, practitioners such as the Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council provided free  diversity training to arts organizations in its region that addressed the issue broadly. They took materials  on the topic that outline a long-term process appropriate for all nonprofits (Third Sector New England,  2010) and added arts-specific framing materials (Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council, 2015). The GIA  statement of purpose on racial equity in arts philanthropy outlines action steps in multiple areas  (Grantmakers in the Arts, 2015). Each of these suggests a long-term, iterative process that engages all  parts and levels of the organization, no matter how big or small. 

Cultural Equity and Inclusion Initiative 6 Literature Review 


Discussions of diversity, cultural equity and inclusion use contested language and terms. Many of these  terms refer to social constructs that are, themselves, contested territory, particularly concepts of race and  ethnicity. For example, is the term “Hispanic” or Latino” more correct or appropriate? And what rich  diversity is lost by lumping all “Hispanics” or “Latinos” into a single category? As another example, is the  term “people of color” more or less problematic than its opposite in the U.S. Census, “non-Hispanic  whites?”  

Language also changes over time and space. Terms that were once acceptable are no longer. Terms that  are acceptable in some communities are not in others. Terms that are used in the US may not apply in  other countries and vice versa.  

In this report the authors opted to use the terms used in the literature being referenced. For example,  when writing about a document that refers to “African Americans,” that term is used, while the term  “Black” is used when writing about documents that use that term. The intent is to reflect the literature  accurately. The tradeoff is that terms are inconsistent throughout the report, as they are both in the  literature and in the many different ways people talk about diversity, cultural equity and inclusion.  


This literature review was conducted over a nine week period between December 9, 2015 and February 8,  2016. This work took place simultaneous to the development of the LA County Arts Commission’s Cultural  Equity and Inclusion Initiative and its leadership. Key definitions of terms were not determined in  advance, nor had the scope of the Advisory Committee’s remit been fully defined. In fact, even  terminology changed during this time, as the term “diversity” in the motion by the Board of Supervisors  was replaced on the Advisory Committee by the terms “cultural equity and inclusion.” More specific  definitions and a narrower scope could have provided tighter parameters and thus a more precise focus  for the team working on this literature review. Without those parameters in place, the team looked at  these issues through a wider lens that, by necessity, made the search less deep. 

Interest in the question of diversity, cultural equity and inclusion in the arts and culture sector has been  on the rise in late 2015 and early 2016. Much is being written, and even as this report was going to press  colleagues were sending new articles that had just been published or discovered (in some cases,  rediscovered). Much of this writing, the team found, is emergent in nature. The problems are being  identified from many different points of view. Consensus on the nature of the problem is less defined.  Proven solutions are difficult to find.  

As a result of the tight time frame, the wide focus and the emerging nature of research and writing in this  area, this literature review should be considered a first look at the five key issues covered here. The 

Cultural Equity and Inclusion Initiative 7 Literature Review 

examples provided are not exhaustive, and it is likely that members of the Advisory Committee will be  able to provide many more. Conversations with leading practitioners, academics and other thinkers in the  field can provide greater nuance and will unearth more ideas. Literature on these issues as well as new  ones that may emerge could be investigated at even greater depth. In seeking to understand how to  improve diversity, cultural equity and inclusion and ensure that all have equal access to the benefits that  arts and culture offer, there is much more to be discussed, debated and learned. 

Cultural Equity and Inclusion Initiative 8 Literature Review 


There is consensus in the literature on nonprofit board diversity that simply inviting individuals from  underrepresented communities onto boards is not sufficient to create lasting and effective diversity and  inclusion in nonprofit leadership. Asking board members to serve as “representatives” of their community  without requiring anything but showing up for meetings is counterproductive. “Minority board or staff  members cannot be tokens of our commitment; they are there to provide information, introduce leaders  from their communities, build networks, and arrange special projects…. Every board member must make  a measurable contribution to the organization” (Kaiser, 2010). Therefore, much of the literature also  addresses board development more generally and how to effectively integrate diverse perspectives into a  functioning board. Some even shift the goal from diversity to inclusion, since diversity only positively  effects nonprofit governance practices if paired with official diversity policies and practices or inclusion  practices (Buse, Bernstein & Bilimoria, 2014; Fredette, Bradshaw & Krause, 2015). This section discusses  the current status of diversity in arts nonprofits, five key dimensions to increasing effective board  diversity, and the role of funders in increasing board diversity.  


Non-white nonprofit board members in the U.S. only increased by two percent from 1993 to 2010 (from  14% to 16%) (Walker & Davidson, 2010). Analysis of the subset of arts and culture nonprofits in this data  shows that their boards are similarly homogenous with respect to race and ethnicity, and smaller  organizations are even more likely to have all white boards (Ostrower, 2013). The percentage of all-white  boards in the arts was only exceeded by organizations having to do with the environment and animals  (Ostrower, 2013). Among arts nonprofit organizations, organizations that focus their mission on  presenting non-white or multi-ethnic programming have had a better track record of maintaining a  diverse board (Bowles, 1992; Farrell & Fred, 2008; Ostrower, 2008, 2013). 

While nonprofits see the value and benefits of expanding diversity on their boards, there is limited  evidence of action being taken by nonprofit boards to increase diversity. BoardSource asked board  members and chief executives about conversations about and programs to increase diversity as part of  the Nonprofit Governance Index in 2010 (BoardSource, 2011). Roughly 50 percent had reached consensus  about the value and benefits of expanding diversity on the board to some extent or to a great extent  (BoardSource, 2011). Still, more than 75 percent of boards had only discussed ways to identify and  address non-inclusive practices only to a small extent or not at all; approximately half had not made  significant or any progress in developing inclusive board dynamics.

Cultural Equity and Inclusion Initiative 9 Literature Review 


Increasing diversity, cultural equity and inclusion in the boards of directors at arts and culture  organizations does not begin or end with a new member joining the board. It begins with stating the  board’s commitment to diversity in its mission statement and includes the development of robust  recruitment and leadership pipelines. It ensures inclusive onboarding practices that helps new board  members acquire the necessary information and skills to contribute and succeed. Two more key  dimensions discussed in the literature are the positives and negatives of term limits, and fundraising  commitments for new board members. Most of the literature here refers to nonprofit boards generally;  where literature was available on arts nonprofits specifically, that is noted. 


BoardSource (2011) argues that the most significant barrier to increasing diversity an organization faces is  the perception that its mission is not relevant to communities of color. They argue that this perception is  especially pervasive in arts and culture organizations.  

If nonprofit boards are serious about increasing the diversity of board members, they must incorporate  diversity into the organization’s mission (Kaiser, 2010). When board members of color were asked about  effective strategies for increasing diversity, 45 percent said that incorporating diversity into an  organization’s core values worked to a great or to a very great extent (Walker & Davidson, 2010). In looking for ways to connect diversity to an organization’s mission, it helps to select the types or  dimensions of diversity that are relevant to achieving the organization’s goals (Woodwell, 2014). For  instance, an organization might focus on diversifying the expertise or industries represented by the board  in order to strengthen the ability to fulfill the mission and can recruit racially or ethnically diverse board  members who also fill these needs (Woodwell, 2014). 

One third of the board members of color surveyed felt that developing a diversity statement as a public  declaration of their commitment worked to a great or very great extent to increasing diversity (Walker &  Davidson, 2010).  

Boards should also be committed to and should discuss the value of increasing diversity in their  organization (BoardSource, 2011). The chief executive must also be committed to increasing diversity; a  board can be limited in its ability to make change if the chief executive is not in agreement. BoardSource  states the chief executive almost always establishes the level of commitment, attitude, pace and behavior  of overall inclusive practices (BoardSource, 2011).  

Beyond this, boards also need to show their commitment by creating a plan of action and timeline that  includes steps to monitor progress (Daley, 2002; BoardSource, 2011, 2012). The formalization of board  diversity policies and practices has a significant positive effect on board diversity demographics (Bradshaw  & Fredette, 2013). Boards need to assess whether those efforts are working, discuss ways to identify and 

Cultural Equity and Inclusion Initiative 10 Literature Review 

address discriminatory or non-inclusive behaviors, and discuss any other potential barriers (BoardSource,  2011; Walker & Davidson, 2010). In an open-ended survey, board members of color indicated that  monitoring and assessment were essential to  

effective change (Walker & Davidson, 2010). The  

“I believe that we cannot fully carry out the visions  and the missions of our museums, and indeed our  museum cannot continue to be of social value if  we do not do what is required to have more  diversity in who works in our museums, in the work we present in our museums, in the audiences  we welcome to our museums, and in the  philanthropic and board leadership in our  museums.”  

–Johnetta B. Cole, Director of the Smithsonian  Institution’s National Museum of African Art

plan of action should also include clear goals,  resources, and a lead party (BoardSource, 2011). If a board never sets aside time in the agenda to  address diversity, it is unlikely that change will  occur (BoardSource, 2011). Time and other  resources must be set aside to address diversity  issues. In one survey, 36 percent of board  members of color respondents experienced a lack  of resources as an excuse to delay inclusion  (Walker & Davidson, 2010). 

While many boards might consider creating a  board-level task force or executive committee to  

address diversity concerns, this may in fact be counterproductive as it ultimately may excuse the full  board from being committed to making change (Love, 2015). In one survey, 43 percent of the board  members of color felt that having a diversity or inclusion task force was not at all effective (Walker &  Davidson, 2010). 


Making racial and ethnic diversity an important and explicit criterion when selecting new board members  has a positive relationship to a higher percentage of non-white board members on nonprofit arts boards  (Ostrower, 2008, 2013). Among people of color who have served on nonprofit boards, nearly 55 percent  felt that actively recruiting board members from diverse backgrounds worked to a “great” or “very great”  extent to increase diversity (Walker & Davidson, 2010). In open-ended questions, 39 percent of those in  this same survey said that active, targeted recruitment of diverse board members was essential (Walker &  Davidson, 2010).  

Comparison of audience demographics with the demographics of the boards of nonprofit arts  organizations suggests that boards are not engaging and identifying the existent pools of diverse board  member candidates (Ostrower, 2013). BoardSource (2011) argues that the failure to recognize potential  board members of color within easy reach of the organization is a significant potential barrier to  becoming an inclusive organization. In the arts specifically, audience members would be a good place to  start looking for potential board members. 

Research among nonprofit board members of color indicates their motivations for serving on a board are  not different from nonprofit board members more generally; the organization’s mission was the leading  consideration among both groups (Walker & Davidson, 2010). Other practical recommendations for  

Cultural Equity and Inclusion Initiative 11 Literature Review 

recruitment include: asking corporate and foundation donors and government officials for  recommendations of potential candidates, recruiting from constituent groups and among the donor base,  and asking boards of other organizations for recommendations (DeVos Institute of Arts Management,  2015; Kaiser, 2010; BoardSource, 2012). 

There is a significant positive association between board diversity and interorganizational alliances,  meaning that partnering with culturally specific organizations to identify potential board members can be  effective (Bradshaw & Fredette, 2013). Potential board members should be informed in writing of the  expectations for board members, such as fundraising requirements, meeting attendance and serving on  committees (Kaiser, 2010). Some guides recommend inviting potential board members onto advisory  councils or certain board committees to build relationships with the board (BoardSource, 2011, 2012).  Recruitment of board members should be an ongoing process, and so boards should keep records of  future prospects to continually develop a pool of potential board members (BoardSource, 2011). 

Pipeline programs specifically designed to connect individuals of diverse backgrounds with nonprofit  boards can be an effective tool for finding potential board members, as can local volunteer centers or  community foundations. Sample board development pipeline programs include the following:  

The United Way of Greater Houston has been operating Project Blueprint for over 20 years. The  program recruits potential board members from Houston’s African American, Asian, and Latino  communities for a 10 week training program after which the graduates are placed with area  nonprofits (BoardSource, 2011). 

The Atlanta Women’s Foundation has operated a similar program for over 20 years that trains  and places women professionals on area nonprofit boards (Atlanta Women’s Foundation, 2016). The African American Board Leadership Institute, a project of Community Partners based in  South Los Angeles, was established in 2011 to increase the number of well-qualified African American individuals for nonprofit boards (African American Board Leadership Institute, 2016). 

Care should be taken as any pipelines are built to bring diversity into the boards of arts nonprofits that  they do not encourage homogenization. If new board members find their voice and experience being  silenced in the process, then the benefits of diversity will be lost.  


In focus group research with nonprofit board members of color, board culture was the greatest influence,  both positive and negative, on board members’ experiences (Walker & Davidson, 2010). Tokenism, in  which the board member felt marginalized from board processes for his or her ethnicity, was the second  most reported negative experience and 25 percent of the respondents had received insensitive comments  at one time or another (Walker & Davidson, 2010). Inviting diverse members onto a nonprofit board does  not benefit governance practices if those individuals are not invited to contribute in meaningful ways. A  well-functioning board has an inclusive board culture that includes trust, information sharing, teamwork,  and dialogue, regardless of the demographic makeup of the board (BoardSource, 2011). The board chair 

Cultural Equity and Inclusion Initiative 12 Literature Review 

or moderator should work to foster a culture in which differing opinions are actively solicited, which  ultimately leads to better decision-making processes (BoardSource, 2012). Homogeneity of background  and ideology, isolation from outside sources of information, and avoiding conflict for the sake of apparent  consensus all contribute to groupthink and impoverished decision-making (Axelrod, 2007).  

New arts nonprofit board members should be provided with a thorough orientation that includes the  organization’s strategic plan, major artistic and educational programs, where to get information, and how  they can be involved, to make sure they are fully included in the governance of the organization (Kaiser,  2010). Providing a board book that includes information like the strategic plan and contacts for staff and  other board members is also a good onboarding practice (Kaiser, 2010). 

If major culture change is needed within an arts board of directors, new members can be added in groups  of three or four to decrease the pressure to assimilate to the prevailing culture. Another strategy is to  have new board members meet with senior staff prior to meeting with the board so they can come to  their first board meeting ready to contribute their own ideas (Kaiser, 2010). 

Of particular note are some common recommendations for encouraging effective onboarding of new  members and an inclusive board culture that were rejected by board members of color in one survey. For  instance, BoardSource recommended diversity and inclusivity training for the board and staff, but 47  percent of the board members of color survey respondents felt that diversity and inclusivity training was  not at all effective (BoardSource, 2011, 2012; Walker & Davidson, 2010). Likewise, BoardSource  recommended a practice in which new board members are assigned mentors, either from the board,  staff, or even from outside the organization (BoardSource, 2011). However, 44 percent of the board  members of color said that having a mentor was not at all effective (Walker & Davidson, 2010). 


While term limits are touted as effective at increasing board diversity by creating space for new board  members, the evidence of their effectiveness is unclear (Woodwell, 2014; Love, 2015). One analysis of the  demographics of nonprofit arts boards in particular showed a positive relationship between board term  limits and the share of non-white board members (Ostrower, 2013). Yet when the demographics of  midsize nonprofit organizations in all sectors were analyzed, board diversity did not correlate with board  term limits or percentage of the board that had joined in the previous two years (Ostrower, 2008). 

Very short term limits can be both positive and negative. Having term limits is suggested as a way to  remove underperforming board members without ruffling feathers (Love, 2015). On the other hand, it  takes a time and commitment to become an inclusive board, and term limits introduce a danger of losing  effective board members (BoardSource, 2011; Kaiser, 2010). It may be better to simply ask unproductive  board members to leave. Analysis of board demographics of both arts nonprofits and midsize nonprofits  in any sector suggest it may be more productive to focus on increasing board size, since board diversity  does correlate with larger board size (Ostrower, 2008; Ostrower, 2013).

Cultural Equity and Inclusion Initiative 13 Literature Review 


The impact of fundraising commitments on board diversity is not yet fully understood, and  recommendations in this area are not one-size-fits-all. Some leaders have suggested nonprofit  organizations should modify fundraising commitments to accommodate new board members from  diverse backgrounds, especially when targeting younger board members (Masaoka, 2016). From this  perspective, every board member should contribute to the organization, but that contribution need not  be financial (Kaiser, 2010). 

However, building fundraising capacity for arts organizations of color that start out with boards heavy  with community leaders might be seen as a higher priority. It has been argued that these organizations  need to increase the fundraising capacity of their boards as the organization matures (DeVos Institute of  Arts Management, 2015; Kaiser, 2010). Arts organizations of color often rely more heavily on government  and foundation income compared to mainstream arts organizations, and therefore these organizations  may want to build their individual contributed income streams through fundraising (DeVos Institute of  Arts Management, 2015). Others disagree, arguing that the organizational models of arts organizations of  color are successful despite their differences in income streams (Voss, Voss, Louie, Drew & Teyolia, 2016). Furthermore, some arts organizations of color argue that their boards should be rooted in the  communities that they serve and therefore fundraising capacity should not be a primary recruitment  criterion (Farrell & Fred, 2008; Stern, Seifert & Vitiello, 2010). 

Other leadership structures and committees can provide alternative ways of giving people a voice in  decision making without making them subject to fundraising rules of the board. For example, the  Community Advisory Board at the Kennedy Center consults on audience, outreach and programming  matters, and is a way to include community members without burdening them with a fundraising  commitment (Kaiser, 2010). 

If fundraising capacity is a requirement of every arts board member, then leaders of other nonprofits should not be recruited by other boards, since their main fundraising commitments will be to their first  organization (Kaiser, 2010). 


Increasing board diversity can attract funders and will show funders and the community that the board is  in touch with community issues (BoardSource, 2011). However, there is a concern that pressure from  funders to increase board diversity may create too shallow a change in arts nonprofits (Kaiser, 2010). This  argument is that nonprofits need strong, effective boards and so initiatives to increase board diversity  should be done in the context of larger board development efforts (Woodwell, 2014). Arts and culture  funders can also support board diversity in simple ways, such as by helping to identify potential board  members (Matlon, Van Haastrecht, Mengüç, 2014; DeVos Institute of Arts Management, 2015).

Cultural Equity and Inclusion Initiative 14 Literature Review 

One analysis of the demographics of the boards of midsize nonprofit organizations found the percentage  of minorities on the board was positively related to the percentage of the organization’s funding received  from the government or foundations (Ostrower, 2008).  

Recommendations drawn from research into the needs and supports of culturally specific arts  organizations also emphasize the importance of funders themselves making a commitment to hire staff  knowledgeable about cultural equity and to commit staff time to these efforts (Matlon et al., 2014). In  2015 Grantmakers in the Arts (GIA), the only national network of private, public, and corporate arts  funders, adopted a statement of purpose for their work in racial equity in arts philanthropy to increase  arts funding for ALAANA (African, Latino(a), Asian, Arab, and Native American) artists, arts organizations,  children, and adults (Grantmakers in the Arts, 2015). Through this statement, GIA committed to  

requiring that all GIA board and staff attend structural racism training 

intentionally considering and selecting board and staff from ALAANA populations  selecting staff and board members whose values include racial equity and social justice. 

The Evelyn and Walter Haas, Jr Fund provides informative case studies of board development efforts  undertaken by organizations in the fund’s leadership institute. Two of the case studies presented highlight  increases in demographic diversity and all three of the case studies indicate an increase of diversity of expertise on their boards after participating in the leadership institute (Woodwell, 2014). For example,  the National Immigration Law Center wanted to add board members with expertise outside of  immigration law, specifically those in fundraising, communications, and finance. This board inventoried  the skills that they wanted to add to the board, mapped out a process for identifying and recruiting new  members, and developed a new onboarding process. The result was both an increase in the diversity of  expertise and demographic diversity among the board members (Woodwell, 2014). In another example,  Girls Inc. of Alameda County undertook a process of board development in preparation for the transition  to a new executive director. They built the board’s capacity in governance, fundraising, and recruitment  and built a strong working partnership between the board and the new executive director. All of the case  studies mentioned the use of consultants and the Haas Fund highlighted selecting the right consultants  who are a good fit and will ask the right questions in their lessons learned about board development  (Woodwell, 2014). 

Cultural Equity and Inclusion Initiative 15 Literature Review 


Research on initiatives, programs and strategies to increase cultural equity, inclusion and/or diversity of  the arts nonprofit workforce is extremely limited. Where data and analysis do exist, they are generally in  the nature of measuring diversity or lack thereof within subsectors of the arts and culture field, and even  

this is still emergent in nature. Only a few of the projects or initiatives this literature review uncovered  report output data on participants, such as the number of people who participated. Only one formal  program evaluation was identified. This literature review uncovered no studies that have measured the  degree to which any program or initiative has led to measurable change in diversity at the level of the  organization, discipline, community or geographic jurisdiction. This section discusses  

Who works in the arts  

Theories, proposals and models for increasing cultural equity and inclusion in the arts and culture  workforce  

Alternative pipelines to arts and culture employment  

The role of funders.  


The workforce of arts nonprofits includes paid staff, volunteers, employees working on contract, and  interns and apprentices. Increasing cultural equity, inclusion and diversity in the arts workforce must  include all aspects of the workforce, including artists.  

Data provided by 469 arts nonprofits through their DataArts Cultural Data Profiles shows that in LA  County, in 2012 a total of 66,070 workers provided nearly 22.5 million hours of labor. While paid staff  made up 18.8 percent of the total workers, they worked more than 52 percent of all labor hours, as Table  1 shows. By comparison, volunteers made up the largest number of workers (nearly 55 percent) but  worked a little more than 30 percent of all labor hours that year. 

Table 1: Staffing in LA County arts nonprofits, 2012

Workers  Labor hours
Paid staff  18.8%  52.3%
Volunteers  54.7%  30.4%
Independent contractors  24.6%  15.1%
Interns and apprentices  1.8%  2.3%
TOTAL  66,070  22,451,480


Cultural Equity and Inclusion Initiative 16 Literature Review 

CDP data also shows that organizations with smaller budgets – many of which may serve specific  communities – are more reliant on volunteers than paid staff, compared to organizations with larger  budgets (Mauldin, 2015b).  

At the time covered by this data, DataArts did not collect demographic information about the workforce.  A demographic module is currently in development and the LA County Arts Commission is considering deploying it in this region in 2016.  

“Arts management” is the term used to refer to business operations in arts organizations, generally  referring to nonprofit organizations such as theatres, museums, discipline support organizations and  others. People doing this work are often referred to as “arts administrators.” Data on diversity in the arts  management workforce is characterized by national surveys with low response rates that are not  representative of the workforce as a whole. Most recently, Cuyler’s 2015 online survey of 575 arts  administrators found they were  

78 percent white, 7 percent Latino, 6 percent African American, 4 percent multiethnic, 3 percent  Asian American, and 2 percent “other”  

77 percent female and 23 percent male  

85 percent heterosexual and 14 percent LGBTQ  

12 percent reported a disability  

77 percent worked in an urban setting  

The New York City Department of Cultural Affairs (DCLA), with funds from the Mertz Gilmore Foundation  and Rockefeller Brothers Fund, administered a survey to measure diversity among nonprofit cultural  organizations across the city. The data they received from 987 organizations demonstrate that the staff  and boards of these organizations do not reflect the racial and ethnic diversity of the city (New York City  Department of Cultural Affairs, 2016). As other surveys have found, greater diversity is found in particular  types of jobs, in particular security and facilities management. Both staff and boards were found to be  about half women and half men. Data about disability were too small to include in their analysis.  

There were positive findings in the DCLA survey. Museum staff, arts managers and board members in  New York City are more diverse than those groups are nationwide. Also, more recent hires were more  diverse than people hired a longer time ago.  

As a followup to this survey, DCLA is exploring possible funding opportunities specifically for  underrepresented theatre professionals, a grant program to support diversity efforts in the cultural  community, and partnerships to develop new pipeline programs to create internships and employment  opportunities (New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, 2016).  

Other studies have uncovered comparable and related trends in other jurisdictions, fields and countries:  

A survey funded by the Mellon Foundation collected data from museum staff. They found that while  72 percent of museum staff is white, leadership is even less diverse. In leadership and curatorial 

Cultural Equity and Inclusion Initiative 17 Literature Review 

positions, museums that are members of the Association of Art Museum Directors (AAMD) are 84  percent non-Hispanic white, 6 percent Asian, 4 percent Black, 3 percent Hispanic and 3 percent two  or more races (Schonfeld & Westermann, 2015). Museums with majority minority staff were  primarily in culturally specific institutions. This survey also found that while 60 percent of staff at  AAMD museums are women, jobs are gender-specific, with women dominating some fields and men  dominating others, especially leadership positions. The report concluded that while there appears to  be a “bench” or “pipeline” of women being prepared for leadership positions, the equivalent does  not exist for people of color. 

Development personnel play a crucial role in arts nonprofits but there is little data about the diversity  of this workforce. A survey of the field by the UK’s Institute of Fundraising found fundraisers to be  more white (87 percent) than the charitable workforce overall, and while 74 percent of the workforce  is female, leadership tends to be men (Institute of Fundraising, 2013). Moreover, they found that  fundraisers of an ethnic minority background tend to work for organizations rooted in or serving that  ethnic group. About five percent of fundraisers identified as disabled, and most of them, too, worked  for an organization serving the disabled. The UK’s Arts Fundraising Fellowship Programme, launched  in 2013 with support from an Arts Council England commissioned grant, includes a diversity strategy  (Wright, 2015).  

A first-of-its-kind survey of 34 book publishing companies and eight review journals across the U.S.  found the publishing industry to be overwhelmingly straight, white, female and nondisabled (Lee and  Low Books, 2016). Overall, 79 percent of employees in the industry were white, 78 percent were  female, 88 percent were straight/heterosexual and 92 percent were nondisabled. These figures were  fairly consistent across departments, including editorial, sales, marketing and publicity, and book  reviewers. However, while racial/ethnic diversity decreased at the executive level, the share of  women dropped. 

The New York Empire State Development Corporation commissioned a report in 2009 to investigate  the strengths and challenges facing the arts and entertainment industry workforce. This study  analyzed the makeup and structure of the workforce, education and training infrastructure, as well as  public and private policies that may be affecting them (Gray & Figueroa, 2009). They found this  workforce to be young, well educated and poorly paid compared to other industries in the state.  Analyzing Census Bureau Equal Employment Opportunity data, they also found minorities and  women to be underrepresented in higher paid skilled and professional arts and entertainment jobs  and at the executive level in arts and entertainment firms. For example, African-Americans and  Latinos only held 13 percent of executive positions and less than 20 percent of technician and craft  jobs.  

In England, among national portfolio organizations (NPOs) and major partner museums (MPMs) that were grantees of Arts Council England (ACE) in 2012-13,  

o 84 percent of permanent staff was found to be white while only 61 percent of contract staff  was white (Arts Council England, 2014). (This compares to a total population of England that  is approximately 85 percent white). 

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o The largest share of what are referred to in England as “black and minority ethnic groups”  (BME) staff has tended to be artists and the smallest share were managers. Fourteen  percent of board members were from BME groups.  

o Two percent of the total workforce and four percent of board members were found to be disabled.  

o While 49 percent of the total workforce was women, they made up a larger share of the  permanent (59 percent) than contractual (47 percent) workforce. Fifty-eight percent of  managers were women, but only 44 percent of board members were. (Arts Council England,  2014)  

o Disabled people as well as people of minority ethnic background have been found to be  employed more commonly as artistic staff or to be found in board roles, as compared to  management or other staff roles (Parkinson & Buttrick, 2014).  

State-run arts institutions in Australia including the Sydney Opera House and the Art Gallery of New  South Wales are required to report on both staffing diversity and strategies to increase diversity  under a law governing diversity in government employment (Taylor, 2015). This applies to the  government’s events and tourism agency as well. Diversity is defined to include women and  indigenous populations. The most recent reporting in January 2015 finds these institutions are  generally failing to meet their workplace diversity targets (Gould, 2015; Taylor, 2015). 

Across all US grantmakers and nonprofits (including but not limited to arts and culture), research by both  the Council on Foundations and Guidestar have found that the larger the organization by budget size, the  fewer women and minorities are found in permanent staff positions and at the leadership level (Bain & Barnett, 2015).  


Artists have a unique place in the arts workforce. Many are self-employed, sometimes working on  contract to both nonprofit and for-profit firms. Many are entrepreneurs selling their work directly to the  public. Sporadic, contingent work is common. The artist career path often looks very different from that  of an arts administrator. Many arts administrators are artists or have an arts background. 

In LA County, analysis of data reported in 2012 by 469 nonprofit arts organizations to the CDP finds that  artists made up 40 percent of the total workforce and worked 25 percent of the total labor hours. Artists  are 71.9 percent of all independent contractors and work 60.4 percent of all independent contractor  hours. The fact that paid staff made up more than 20 percent of the workforce but less than ten percent  of all labor hours suggests they very commonly work part-time. 

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Table 2: Artists as a share of staffing categories in  

LA County arts nonprofits, 2012 

Artist share of  total workforce Artist share of  total labor hours
OVERALL  40.2%  25.0%
Paid staff  22.6%  9.7%
Volunteers  32.3%  33.5%
Independent contractors  71.9%  60.4%
Interns and apprentices  30.2%  28.5%


According to data collected by the US Census, there are approximately 2.1 million working artists in the  US (National Endowment for the Arts, 2011). Artists make up about two percent of the workforce in  California (363,430 artists). While the NEA study did not analyze data for LA County separately, they did  find the Los Angeles-Long Beach-Santa Ana metropolitan statistical area is home to a particularly high  concentration of independent artists, writers and performers. Compared to the overall US workforce,  American artists are less likely to be of a minority race or ethnicity. However, this varies dramatically by  discipline. While only 13 percent of writers and authors are from a minority race or ethnicity, fully 41  percent of dancers and choreographers are. By comparison, 32 percent of the US adult workforce is from  

a minority race or ethnicity.3 

Women make up 46 percent of artists, comparable to their share of the  

workforce, but this ranges from a high of 78 percent of dancers and choreographers to a low of 21  percent of announcers. Fifty-nine percent of artists have a bachelor’s degree or higher, making them  more educated that the US workforce overall (32 percent).  

The NEA analysis also discovered that 34 percent of artists are self-employed, compared to just under ten  percent of the US labor force. Only eight percent of artists are employed by nonprofit organizations.  Women artists earn 81 cents on every male dollar. A survey of people working in the arts who have  undergraduate degrees from art school found that 56 percent of men earn more than $50,000 per year  while only 36 percent of women do (Tepper, 2013). There is some evidence that at least in the UK, men  have longer careers as artists than women (Parkinson & Buttrick, 2014). 

Many artists today have what has been termed as “portfolio careers.” They no longer have just one job or  one employer or even one profession at a time (Burns, 2009). Today’s artist is required to be a “hybrid  professional” with both art skills and entrepreneurial skills to make a living. Writing about the dance  workforce, Burns (2009) explained they now need to develop new skills and new working methods in  order to secure income streams that will sustain lifelong careers. Similar things have been written about  the music workforce. “Influences such as digitization, globalization and deregulation mean that musicians  


3 This figure is for the same time period covered by the NEA study, 2005-2009. Today approximately 38 percent  of the adult US workforce is a racial or ethnic minority. See characteristics-by-race-and-ethnicity-2014.pdf for more details. 

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must navigate new contexts and business models, apply both meta-knowledge and disciplinary-based  knowledge in their work, and maintain diverse skill sets” (Petocz, Reid & Bennett, 2014).  

Those same economic and technological factors have likely affected all arts disciplines. Instability, low job  security, sporadic employment, fierce competition, multiple employers, low income and frequent  rejection are all normal conditions for performing artists (Department for Professional Employees  AFL-CIO, 2014). Contingent employment is common for all artists (Gray & Figueroa, 2009). While 73  percent of all Americans work 50-52 weeks per year, only 27 percent of actors, 49 percent of dancers,  choreographers and other entertainers, and 54 percent of musicians and singers experience that kind of  stability. 

Without artists there is no art, but artists make up only a fraction of the arts workforce. In the UK dance  world it has been estimated there are 2,500 performers, 22,500 teachers and 5,000 people supporting  dance (management, choreography, therapy, history, etc.) for a total of 30,000 people working in dance  in the UK. If people who volunteer in the dance field were included, the total may be more than 40,000  people. While choreographers and the performing dancers are recognized as part of the dance workforce,  a more comprehensive definition of who works in dance would include everyone else (Burns, 2009).  

Collecting complete and accurate on artists as a workforce is difficult because standard workforce data  collection systems are not structured to take into account how portfolio careers operate (Petocz et al.,  2014). Three approaches that have been utilized are described below:  

Theatre Communications Group’s 2011 survey administered primarily to theatre artists found  them to be 86 percent white, 4 percent African-American, 3 percent Hispanic or Latino, 2 percent  Asian, 2 percent mixed race, 1 percent Native American, 1 percent Pacific Islander and 1 percent  other (Theatre Communications Group, 2011). Fifty-one percent of respondents were men.  

In Chicago, was established by The Chicago Community Trust, with support  from the City of Chicago, Arts Alliance Illinois, and the Wallace Foundation. This website provides  data designed “to help arts managers, advocates, researchers, and decision-makers readily  access information on how the city of Chicago is influenced by the presence of arts and culture”  (, n.d.). Among other indicators, the site provides charts and graphs  summarizing statistics about some 63,000 Chicago artists by Standard Occupational Code  category, then by race/ethnicity, gender, age, income and discipline (Steinbrunner, 2013). The  Chicago data utilizes aggregate data from the Census and the American Community Survey  rather than surveys of individual artists. This information is provided alongside data on arts  nonprofits, film and media, festivals, park permits and libraries, as well as general demographics,  crime and housing data.  

The Australian Research Council’s Centre of Excellence for Creative Industries and Innovation has  identified what they call a “creative trident” of occupations:  

o Specialist creatives employed in core creative occupations within creative industries  (e.g., orchestral musicians) 

Cultural Equity and Inclusion Initiative 21 Literature Review 

o Embedded workers employed in core creative occupations within other industries (e.g.,  artists working in therapeutic settings in the health sector)  

o Support workers employed in other occupations within the creative industries (e.g.,  admin or business support roles in creative industries) 

By focusing entirely on economic conditions, Petocz et al. (2014) argue, this model leaves out  many portfolio workers. Moreover, it ignores the role musicians (and other artists, as could be  argued) in maintaining culture, community and identity in the larger society. A more holistic view  of musicians as a workforce would include this latter role as well. 

The DCLA survey in New York City found that staff who were more recently hired were more  racially/ethnically diverse. NEA analysis found that dancers and choreographers were the most diverse  type of artists by discipline – they are also among the youngest artists. This matches data about the US  population overall, with younger cohorts of Americans being more diverse than older ones. This should  not be taken as evidence that the lack of diversity in the arts and culture workforce will be addressed as  older workers leave the workforce and younger workers enter. Today, the arts and culture workforce  does not “look like” the overall workforce. While demographic pressure will make the workforce more  diverse over time, arts organizations will not become truly representative of their local communities without concerted efforts to change a wide range of practices, policies and underlying assumptions.  


The bulk of the relevant literature related to the arts and culture workforce utilize the term “diversity,”  though some talk about “cultural equity” and “inclusion” as well. Very few initiatives to increase diversity,  cultural equity and inclusion in the arts and culture workforce have been formally evaluated. Most of  what is written is a mix of program, project and initiative descriptions, while some provide recommendations on how to improve diversity. This literature can be organized into the following five  categories: 

Recruitment and Entry  

Academic and Other Preparation  

Retention and Advancement  

Sector-Based Approaches  

Public Policy  

All of the theories, proposals, models and promising practices presented here can be considered as  possible ideas for action in LA County. 

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The American Association of Museums has acknowledged that increasing diversity in the field requires  tackling the problem at all stages, from increasing awareness of museum careers, to recruiting more  diverse students into museum studies programs to looking outside traditional training programs for  people and investing in them (Farrell & Medvedeva, 2010).  

It is widely acknowledged that entry into the arts and culture workforce far too often begins with unpaid  internships or volunteer work, and this serves as a financial barrier to disadvantaged communities  (Creative and Cultural Skills, 2009; Gray & Figueroa, 2009; Parkinson & Buttrick, 2014). Student debt may  add to this burden and barrier created by self-funding entry into the field (Davies, 2007). Personal  networks are often key to getting ahead in the creative sector (Romer, 2015). For example, when asked  who or what most influenced their decision to enter a master’s program in library and information  science, the largest share, 41 percent, said it was experience with librarians (Kim & Sin, 2006). Women,  Black and Hispanic graduates of art schools are more likely to report debt (including student debt) and  lack of access to networks as barriers to their artistic careers (Tepper, 2013).  

The Strategic National Arts Alumni Project (SNAAP) survey of art school graduates found that while half of  all alumni had done an internship while enrolled at their SNAAP institutions, women, Black,  Hispanic/Latino and first-general college students held a disproportionate number of unpaid internships,  which are tied to significantly weaker career outcomes compared to paid internships (Frenette, Dumford,  Miller & Tepper, 2015). 

Improving cultural equity and inclusion in the workforce begins with recruiting a pool of candidates that is  more representative of the workforce at large. Partnering with culturally specific community, affinity and  membership organizations, hiring minority search firms can help achieve this (Gould, 2015; Ingersoll &  Selenow, Smith, 2013; 2015; Wright, 2015). University programs in arts management should also partner  with such organizations in order to increase the diversity of their student bodies (Cuyler, 2013). Partnering  with organizations serving disadvantaged or at-risk youth such as gang intervention groups or others is  another approach (Arts Council England, 2015b). Broadcasting your search internally and creating clearly  articulated internal progression plans are also recommended (Davies, 2007; Ingersoll & Selenow, 2015). 

To attract a more diverse workforce, it is also recommended an organization have a clearly written  diversity policy (Smith, 2013). The values in that policy should appear not only in mission and vision  statements but also in job descriptions and performance evaluations (Gould, 2015; Ingersoll & Selenow,  2015).  


For more than 20 years the New York Hall of Science in Queens has run a program hiring high school  and college students as “Explainers” to explain exhibitions to visitors, perform science  demonstrations and help with educational programs (Farrell & Medvedeva, 2010). These were paid 

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positions that did not require participants to be predisposed to work in museums, science or  medicine. By 2007, two-thirds of the museum’s Education Department staff was former Explainers,  suggesting an alternative model for recruiting diverse populations into museum employment. 

LA County Arts Internship Program, managed by the LA County Arts Commission, offers a ten week  paid internship program for college undergraduates in arts nonprofits throughout the County. The  program was launched in 2000 and in its most recent year, 57 percent of participants identified as  

being people of color (T. Gibas, personal communication, January 19, 2016). This internship program  is offered in partnership with the Multicultural Undergraduate Internship program at the Getty  Institute in LA (Getty Foundation, n.d.). In New York, the Diversity in Arts Leadership (DIAL) internship  program was established the same year to provide ten week summer internships for undergraduates  from underrepresented backgrounds (Americans for the Arts, 2015). 

When the Berkeley Repertory Theatre set out to diversify their staff, they started by targeting their  twelve month, stipended professional fellowship program as a key mechanism (Medak, 2010). In  their first year they identified twelve historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) with active  theatre programs and had on-campus meetings with students, faculty and career counselors there. In  the next two years four of their fellows (approximately 15 are selected each year from an applicant  pool of 300-400) were selected from this outreach. In subsequent years they expanded their  recruitment, sending fellowship alumni to speak at universities across the country, including HBCUs  and reaching out to students from other diverse backgrounds. They convened a conference to  provide guidance to representatives from these colleges to help improve student applications.  Berkeley Rep has written that it will take ten years or more to see if this approach leads to a more  diverse workforce (Medak, 2010). 


Some have argued the “pipeline” into arts and culture jobs is too narrow. Overreliance on academic  degree programs to fill arts management positions may be reducing diversity in terms of social class, race  and ethnicity, and disability (Parkinson & Buttrick, 2014). Davies (2007) recommends creating a range of  entry routes that includes apprenticeships, traineeships and degree programs. The London Theatre  Consortium, for example, recognized their traditional recruitment pipeline of university to unpaid  internship to entry level job was inadequate to diversify their workforce (Williams, 2015).  

Higher education programs in the visual arts are being encouraged to recruit students from a wide range  of backgrounds in order to diversify the pipeline (Creative and Cultural Skills, 2009), as are museum  studies programs (Davies, 2007) and arts management programs (Cuyler, 2013). An analysis of five arts  management programs (three graduate and two undergrad programs) found those students to be  primarily white, heterosexual, able-bodied women from upper-middle class backgrounds (Cuyler, 2013).  Similar trends were found in museum studies programs in the UK, with white women making up a  majority of students (Davies, 2007). 

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These academic programs are creating a future workforce, Cuyler (2013) says, that reflects traditional arts  audiences. Most arts management programs have small or no recruitment budgets, so they use a passive  approach to recruitment. Arts management as a career is a hidden option that many people are unaware  of (Cuyler, 2013). Not only that, but many other types of occupations such as chemists, IT support, human  

resource specialists and others are needed in arts organizations but few people may be aware of these  opportunities (Eichinger, 2007). The caution here is that publicizing these career opportunities must be  combined with the creation of multiple routes to qualifying for those positions (Davies, 2007). Some  research shows Black and Hispanic students take longer to complete arts degrees than other groups  (Tepper, 2013), which suggest they may need additional support. 

Cuyler recommends that the American Association of Arts Educators adopt a public statement about how  it values diversity, like that issued by the Network of Schools of Public Policy Affairs & Administration in  2013.  

A survey of librarians of color who graduated with a master’s degree in library and information sciences  found that the five most effective recruitment strategies were 

Assistantships, scholarships and financial aid  

Ethnic diversity of faculty in the library and information science school or program  Role models from ethnic groups 

Presence of faculty and staff of color in the recruitment process 

Opportunities for students of color to work in library and information science-related fields (Kim  & Sin, 2006). 

In interviews, staff of the Detroit Institute of Art “overwhelmingly recommended education” as a key tool  to diversify (Eichinger 2007). This included expanding and diversifying museum studies programs, creating  internship programs to bring diverse young people into museums, and raising awareness of museum  professions and the opportunities they offer. 


Perhaps the most complex program designed to make museum careers in the UK more accessible to  people from underrepresented race and ethnic backgrounds was the Diversify scheme that ran from  1998 through 2011 (Davies & Shaw, 2012). This program was designed specifically to create  alternative entry routes into the museum workforce and to help move people from minority race and  ethnicity backgrounds into a position where they could apply for mid- and senior-level jobs in the  museum sector. A total of 110 people were offered a choice of four training routes: scholarships for a  master’s in museum studies degree with a short paid placement in a museum or gallery, a traineeship  offering a two-year paid placement in a museum or gallery combined with a part-time master’s in  museum studies, an apprenticeship-type training program, or a workplace-based management-level  traineeship for individuals already working in museums. In the final year of the program it was  expanded to include people from low-income backgrounds irrespective of their race or ethnicity. An 

Cultural Equity and Inclusion Initiative 25 Literature Review 

evaluation of the Diversify program – the only evaluation of any staffing diversity initiative uncovered  by this literature review – found that 90 percent of participants gained work in museums after  completing it, and 61 percent were either in museum management or in a position that could lead to  a management position.  

Other programs to increase diversity in the entertainment industry include  

Minorities in Broadcast Training Program for minority college graduates 

Emma L. Bowen Foundation offering multi-year paid internships in the media industry to  students of color that begin while in high school and continue into college  

New York Directors Guild of America Assistant Director Training Program that combines paid on the-job training with seminars and special assignments  

Independent Feature Project in both Los Angeles and New York City  

Inner-City Filmmakers that begins as a free summer workshop (NAACP, 2015) 


As described above, a laissez-faire reliance on advanced academic preparation for the arts and culture  workforce may be limiting who has access to jobs in the sector. One alternative is to develop intentional  pipelines that combine classroom education with work-based experience. When using this approach there  are three main labor sources to consider: 1) young people who are preparing for their future careers, 2)  people who already work in the field and want opportunities to move up, and 3) people working in other  industries with transferable skills relevant to arts and culture.  

Developing an awareness of the arts as a potential career begins in the earliest grades with arts  education. Arts activities and field trips can introduce young people to artistic works as well as the  infrastructure that supports the arts. On the other hand, at least one study has found that extent to which  individuals visited museums with their families as children was a “powerful indicator” of future museum  visitation, whereas non-family-based participation, such as school-group visits, had no appreciable impact  on later discretionary use of museums (Falk, 1993). 

Career technical education (CTE) is a set of education programs for students and adults designed to  prepare them for work. Formal CTE programs are offered in middle and high schools, as well as  community and technical colleges. In California, the CTE standards for Arts, Media and Entertainment are  designed to prepare young people to work in Design, Visual and Media Arts, Performing Arts, Production  and Managerial Arts, and Game Design and Integration (California Department of Education, n.d.).  

Work-based learning (WBL) refers to education that usually takes place at a work site or is very work-like,  and is often an extension of classroom coursework. Internships are a form of WBL used commonly in the  arts. Examples include the LA County Arts Internship Program and the Multicultural Undergraduate  Internship program at the Getty Institute as well as the Diversity in Arts Leadership (DIAL) internship 

Cultural Equity and Inclusion Initiative 26 Literature Review 

program in New York City, described earlier. Steppenwolf Theater in Chicago offers a similar internship  program (Steppenwolf Theater, n.d.). 

Youth apprenticeship is more formalized than CTE and WBL, and is much less common in the US than  Europe. It combines on-the-job training with related instruction and leads to an industry-recognized  credential. Creative and Cultural Skills in the UK has created an apprenticeship framework that offers an  alternative entry route to working in the arts and culture sector (Davies, 2007). Apprentices receive  college training, soft skills employment training, skills-specific training and on-the-job training. The  London Theatre Consortium made up of 13 of the city’s leading theatres received a £500,000 grant  (US$729,000) from the Creative Employment Programme to hire 38 apprentices, as part of their effort to  increase diversity in the theatre sector (Williams, 2015). Participating theatres range in size from five to 60  staff, and they have are collaborating on recruitment, interviews, training and mentoring as well as  sharing what they learn with each other.  

Creative occupations can be found in many different industries, which means that preparing young people  for these kinds of jobs does not limit them to working in creative industries. For example, a photographer  might work for a magazine or for an airplane manufacturing firm. In 2013, 198,110 people in LA County  worked in 79 creative occupations in a variety of industries (LA County Economic Development  Corporation, 2015). Of those 79 occupations, only half require a four-year college degree. Of those that  do not require a four-year college degree, 87 percent utilize on-the-job training to prepare the workforce  (Mauldin, 2015a). For these positions in particular, CTE, WBL and apprenticeships are particularly  relevant.  

The benefits of arts education are not limited to creative careers, and they are especially beneficial to  disadvantaged. Low income students who have intensive coursework in the arts tend to have better  grades and are more likely to attend college than low income students who have little or no coursework  in the arts. High school students of low socioeconomic status who have little or no coursework in the arts  are five times more likely to drop out of school (Catterall, Dumais & Hampden-Thompson, 2012).  

Adult apprenticeships can offer opportunities for people already working in arts institutions to gain skills  that allow them to move into more advanced positions. In the US, for example, apprenticeships have  been used successfully in the U.S. healthcare industry to provide a mix of on-the-job training and  classroom education that allows employees to move from less-skilled positions such as janitorial and food  service positions into higher-skill positions such as radiology technicians or certified nursing assistants.  This allows employers to meet needs for skilled workers in a way that improves both workforce diversity  and retention (Mauldin, 2011). Apprenticeships have also been used to support artists working in folk and  traditional art forms, as will be discussed it the fourth section of this literature review. Using this model,  arts organizations could look to the parts of their workforce that are more diverse, such as security and  sales, to identify people for apprenticeships that would allow them to move into curatorial, programming  or other back-of-house administrative positions.

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Retention is another important part of ensuring a diverse workforce (Ingersoll & Selenow, 2015).  Expecting diverse staff to completely assimilate to the organization’s established values can be alienating,  and it can also undermine the benefit of bringing in people from different walks of life (Ingersoll & Selenow, 2015; Parkinson & Buttrick, 2014).  

Leadership development is needed to ensure people from diverse backgrounds are able both to enter  leadership positions and to ensure they can succeed once they are in those positions. ACE/Royal College  of the Arts’ Inspire Fellowships is one model for leadership development (Creative and Cultural Skills,  2009). Other programs assign mentors or “buddies” to new board members and senior staff from diverse  backgrounds, to provide additional support (Gould, 2015; Smith, 2013). Mentoring programs such as  those described in the earlier section on board members suggest another model that may also work for  management staff. 

Redefining or restructuring jobs can also play a role in diversifying the workforce, as can redefining merit  to include new factors (Gould, 2015). Decision-making teams can be made more diverse by bringing “front  line” staff who often are younger and more diverse than managers onto those teams, which both brings  new thinking to the team and creates opportunities for advancement ((Bourke, Smith, Stockton & Wakefield, 2014).  

Another model is offered by a new Cultural and Ethnic Arts Executive Leadership Program (CEA), just  announced by the Rutgers University Business School. The CEA program is designed to increase diversity  in the leadership of major cultural and ethnic arts organizations by make the pipeline to those positions  more diverse (Institute for Ethnical Leadership, 2015). This certificate program will mix classroom  education on leadership topics with networking, a support group, attendance at arts events, and a  yearlong mentorship with a cultural leader who is from underrepresented and diverse populations.  “Underrepresented” is defined broadly, including ethnic, religious, LGBTQ and differently-abled  populations. This is designed as a professional development program where both the individual and his or  her employer must commit financial resources on a sliding scale, depending on budget size of the  organization.  

Support is often provided through professional associations. Several examples include the following:  

Theatre Communications Group (TCG), the largest US membership organization of nonprofit  theatres, affiliate organizations and individuals, has established the SPARK Leadership Program  to support professional development of exceptional leaders of color in nonprofit theatres  (Theatre Communications Group, n.d.a). In addition, their Legacy Leaders of Color Video Project chronicles theatre leaders of color from the resident theatre movement with a focus on creating  opportunities for artists of color. 

Cultural Equity and Inclusion Initiative 28 Literature Review 

The American Alliance of Museums and the Association of Art Museum Curators have both  established task forces to work in improving diversity in their workforce (Cole, 2015 ; Gray &  Figueroa, 2009).  

Both Writers Guild of America East (WGAE) and Writers Guild of America West (WGAG) have  pages devoted to diversity on their websites. WGAE has launched a diversity coalition focused on  improving writing opportunities for women and people of color in the entertainment industry,  and they are developing partnerships with diverse organizations such as the National Association  of Black Journalists (Writers Guild of America East, n.d.). WGAW has a diversity department that  works with producers, studio and network executives as well as writers to increase employment  opportunities for writers from minority race or ethnic groups, women, people over 40, members  of the LGBTQ community or disabled people (Writers Guild of America West, 2015). In addition,  WGAW staffs eight diverse-group-specific committees, runs two diversity programs for members,  and commissions the Hollywood Writers Report that tracks diversity among television writers.  

The Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) hosts several “communities” devoted to  specific diverse groups, including the AFP African American Community of Fundraising  Professionals and an AFP Gay/Lesbian/Bisexual/Transgender Page, as well as a Spanish-language  e-newsletter (Association of Fundraising Professionals, 2013).  

In Northern Ireland, the Minority Ethnic Arts Forum (MEAF) was established by the Community  Arts Forum to provide a voice and support for artists from minority ethnic backgrounds and arts  organizations working with minority ethnic arts or minority ethnic communities (Minority Ethnic  Arts Forum, n.d.). 


In an effort to diversify all levels of the workforce at the Detroit Institute of Art, the traditional chief  curator or registrar position has been replaced with a team-oriented approach, where the most  experienced registrar is a team leader (Eichinger, 2007). 

The Lincolnshire Museum in England has developed an internal progression plan where  inexperienced people from a range of backgrounds who are hired into front-of-house roles can  develop skills and work their way into curatorial and management positions (Davies, 2007). 

In 2015, the Intercultural Leadership Institute (ILI) was launched as part of an ongoing partnership  between the National Association of Latino Arts and Cultures, First Peoples Fund, Alternate Roots,  and PA’I Foundation designed “to achieve cultural equity through heightened solidarity among  artists, administrators, funders, and culture bearers” (National Association of Latino Arts and  Cultures, 2015). ILI is an extensive, joint leadership initiative built on an ethics of difference, inclusion  and empowerment that brings together both intercultural artists and arts administrators from across  the US to build solidarity and capacity together. 

Cultural Equity and Inclusion Initiative 29 Literature Review 


The arts and culture workforce seems particularly well positioned to use sector-based initiatives to  increase diversity, cultural equity and inclusion. Sector initiatives often target underrepresented or  disadvantaged communities, helping them prepare for jobs in a particular industry. Programs like this  include Hollywood CPR, a program that offers vocational training to underserved and underrepresented  populations for skills needed to work in the Artists, Crafts and Technicians departments of the  entertainment industry (Hollywood CPR, n.d.). The digital music industry in Atlanta has been investigated  as another a possible sector initiative (Stephens, 2007). Initiatives like these can combine soft skills, job specific skills, and the skills need to manage a “portfolio career” made up of contingent assignments. The  building and construction trades – another field dominated by contingent work – have developed money  management training models to help people learn to manage unstable employment over the long term.4 

Minorities make up less than 14 percent of writers rooms on television shows (Sun, 2015). Each of the  four major television networks (CBS, Disney-ABC, Fox, and NBCUniversal) has some kind of program  focused on training or mentoring diverse writers, each one established within the past twenty-five years  

(Harris, 2015).5 

Each provides some combination of teaching, mentoring and network assistance. The  

Disney-ABC Program is a year-long program with pay and benefits, while the other three programs are  shorter than a year and are unpaid. Diversity is generally defined to include minorities by race or ethnicity,  women and LGBTQ writers (Sun, 2015). Thousands of people apply each year and only a tiny fraction are  selected, usually ten or fewer at each network. Interviews with past participants show that participation  in a diversity program does not necessarily lead to a job, but may often lead to another diversity program  or fellowship (Harris, 2015).  

The networks have also established what they call a “diversity hire,” an entry-level staff writing position  that is subsidized by the network. Anyone can apply to be a diversity hire, and a person can be the  diversity hire as many times as they like, as long as they are willing to stay at entry-level pay and status.  Concerns have been raised that this leads to tokenism in the writers room, and possibly a negative  incentive not to hire diverse writers who are not subsidized by the network (Sun, 2015). Individuals who  have been a “diversity hire” report they often have trouble being brought back for a second year as a  regular staff writer. Analysis of post-program data shows that most “diversity hire” writers see some  dropoff in employment in their second year, with African American participants seeing the greatest  dropoff (Sun, 2015).  

An ad hoc group called “We Need Diverse Books” has launched a campaign calling for greater diversity in  children’s books (Neary, 2014). One of the group members, Daniel José Older, said this call is about all  areas of the literary workforce. “We need diverse agents, we need editors, we need diverse book buyers,  


4 See, for example, Financial Tools for the Trades at http://www.financialtoolsfortrades.org5 Warner Brothers has a Writers Workshop that is not diversity-specific.

Cultural Equity and Inclusion Initiative 30 Literature Review 

we need diverse illustrators, and we need diverse executives and CEOs at the top, too,” he said. The  group’s campaign website lists opportunities for diverse writers (We Need Diverse Books, 2015). 

Two publicists at major publishing houses have self-funded two small grants for speculative fiction  writers. One grant is for diverse writers and the other is for any writers writing about diverse worlds  (Speculative Literature Foundation, n.d.). These are designed to foster new work, supporting new and  emerging writers from underrepresented and underprivileged groups.  

Casting is a related area where staff and programming meet. While the subject of particular artistic works  may lend themselves to a more diverse cast, diverse casting goes beyond that and may include  

Providing detailed casting breakdowns that state exactly what the director is looking for, instead  of a general statement like “casting all ethnicities,”  

Casting more than one person of color (unless that is explicitly what the play is about), and  Replacing the idea of “color-blind” casting to “color-conscious” casting (Ingersoll & Selenow,  2015).  

LA’s Inner City Cultural Center (ICCC), founded by C. Bernard Jackson in 1962, was an early practitioner of  multicultural and nontraditional casting. Housed in a former Masonic Temple just south of where  Koreatown is today, ICCC was a cultural center, educational center and social service organization.  Jackson once said his artists were 30 percent black and 32 percent other people of color (Oliver, 1996).  The ICCC helped boost the careers of performers such as Lou Gossett Jr., George Takei, Edward James  Olmos and Danny Glover, as well as writers including August Wilson and Luis Valdez. It is seen by many as  forerunners to the conversations occurring fifty years later about cultural equity and inclusion in the arts  (Bailey, 2015).  

Looking to the future, Tim Dang’s 51% Preparedness Plan for the American Theatre reflects the connection  between artists and programming as well (Dang, 2015). This plan calls on theatres to commit to achieving  a goal of having 51 percent of artists and production personnel combined to be either people of color,  women or under 35 years of age by 2020. He further encourages funders to consider funding only those  theatres that have achieved at least one of these goals.  


The “Made in NY” Office of Film, Theatre and Broadcasting has developed two job training programs  specifically designed to help unemployed and low income residents of New York City qualify for entry  level positions in the entertainment industry, both administered by Brooklyn Workforce Innovations.  The Made in NY Production Assistant Training was launched in 2006 in part to “provide opportunities  for diverse New Yorkers to gain entry into the production industry” (Made in NY, n.d.). It is a free five  

week training program followed by two years of job placement assistance (Brooklyn Workforce  Innovations, n.d.). This was followed in 2010 by the Made in NY Production Crafts Training Program  designed “to help women, minority and struggling New Yorkers prepare for and get jobs in film and 

Cultural Equity and Inclusion Initiative 31 Literature Review 

television production” (Mayor’s Office of Film, Theatre and Broadcasting, 2010). Local unions  including studio mechanics, cinematographers and theatrical stage employees provided training,  which was followed by one year of job placement assistance.  

The National Hispanic Media Coalition (NHMC) launched a TV Writers Program in 2003. This is an  intensive scriptwriters workshop designed to prepare Latinos for writing jobs at major television  networks (National Hispanic Media Coalition, 2014). As of 2014, 120 writers had completed the  program, 25 percent of which had gone one to become staff at various networks. Scenes written by  NHMC TV Writers Program alumni have been presented at the Latino Scene Showcase in partnership  with the Los Angeles Theater Center, to an audience of television network executives, agents and  managers.  


Both Made in NY workforce development programs emerged from the Mayor’s Task Force on Diversity in  Film, Television and Commercial Production that launched in October 2006. The task force was charged  with exploring initiatives and opportunities that would diversify employment in the City’s entertainment  production industries (Mayor’s Office of Film, Theatre and Broadcasting, 2010).  

The Detroit Institute of Art’s (DIA) hiring policy helps to ensure a more diverse board and workforce  (Eichinger, 2007). DIA is owned by the city but its employees are not city employees. Nonetheless, its  governance rules require that at least one-third of board members and two-thirds of employees must be  residents of the City of Detroit. The population of the city is 82 percent African American and 5 percent  Latino. The result of this policy is promising, but there are still problems. While 51 percent of DIA’s total  workforce is people of color, still only 32 percent of officer/manager level positions are.  

Where unions are involved there may be opportunities to work out contracting agreements to make  diverse hires, or to hire specifically from the local community. When the New Jersey Performing Arts  Center (NJPAC) was built in Newark, for example, local governments set minority hiring benchmarks that  led to 46 percent of the nearly one thousand construction jobs created going to the local minority  community. A second union agreement has ensured that 47 percent of stage hand jobs at the completed  facility are held by minorities (Maher, 2014). 


While funders have begun to focus on diversity, cultural equity and inclusion in programming and  audience they have paid less attention to these issues when it comes to staffing of arts organizations.  Nonetheless there are a few examples in the literature of grantmaking in this area. 

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The Jerome Foundation in St. Paul, MN, and the McKnight Foundation in Minneapolis, MN, were the first  two foundations to pilot the Cultural Data Project’s new demographics module with their arts grantees (N. Crosson, personal communication, November 19, 2015). This tool collects demographic information on all  facets of the arts workforce including full- and part-time staff, contractors, volunteers and interns, as well  as board members.  

The New York State Council on the Arts offers Special Arts Services grants to culturally specific arts  organizations for professional training for underserved artists (New York State Council on the Arts, 2015).  This grant program is intended both to advance arts careers for underserved populations and to preserve  culturally specific traditional art forms.  

In 2015 the Joyce Foundation announced a new $2.5 million Spotlight Grant Program designed to boost  diversity within Chicago area arts and cultural organizations (Philanthropy News Digest, 2015). The first  year they gave three-year grants to ten grantees, most of them rooted in diverse communities. The  purpose of these grants is to help artists of color achieve viable careers, strengthen the pipeline of diverse  arts administrators and enhancing the grantees’ long-term financial stability. 

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Arts Council England (ACE) took bold steps in 2014 when it announced The Creative Case for Diversity, a new initiative  designed to promote diversity and inclusion in the staff, boards, programming and audiences of its grantees. The  Creative Case is a statement of values, a set of emerging policies and a series of investments. It focuses on the benefits  of diversity beyond the business case as defined as increasing ticket sales and visitor numbers (Arts Council England,  2015a). They seek to move from a focus on remedying past imbalances toward a positive celebration of diversity (Arts  Council England, 2015b).  

While ACE has asked its national portfolio organizations and major partner museums grantees to report diversity  statistics for several years, ACE announced that making demonstrable progress toward increasing diversity will become  one of the factors ACE will consider in making future grants. In recent years NPOs and MPMs have been required to  produce “equality action plans” that address recruitment and retention of staff. Grantees will now be expected in  addition to shape their artistic programs to better reflect the communities they serve (Arts Council England, 2015a).  NPOs are expected to offer not just a taste of the arts but “real career pathways” to underrepresented populations  (, 2014). This continues a trend that began in 2009 when ACE, in partnership with Creative and  Cultural Skills, one of 25 Sector Skills Councils in the UK, developed their Visual Arts Blueprint: A workforce  development plan for the visual arts in the UK. One of the nine key themes outlined in the blueprint was workforce  diversity. One of the five goals set in the blueprint was to “develop and support programmes which promote diversity  within the visual arts workforce” (Creative and Cultural Skills, 2009). ACE has also been told by members of Parliament  that they need to rectify a funding imbalance that favors London over the rest of the country (James, 2014).  

Senior Management for Diversity at ACE, Abid Hussain, has said that the Arts Council itself must reflect the goals they  have set for grantees. He says ACE seeks to achieve not only a more diverse arts and culture workforce, but wants more  diverse representation in the leadership roles that influence decisions about casting, production and commissioning of  new work (Romer, 2015). This includes supporting the leadership of diverse-led smaller organizations. 

ACE announced the equivalent of $12.5 million in strategic investments for diversity as part of the Creative Case, in a  mix of new or expanded initiatives (Arts Council England, n.d.b.):  

Elevate, £2.1 million fund created to develop the strength, management and governance of diverse-led arts  organizations that do not receive grants as an NPO  

Unlimited, £1.8 million to support development of new work by deaf and disabled artists Sustained Theatre Fund, £2 million to support the development of Black and minority ethnic theatre makers  Change Makers, £2.6 million to fund long-term relationships between NPOs and aspiring arts leaders from the  Black and minority ethnic and deaf and disabled communities 

This is in addition to past and ongoing funding initiatives to support diversity that include  

Developing Resilient Leadership Commissioned Grant, a £1.8 million (US$2.6 million) fund to support the  personal and professional development of cultural leaders. One goal of the program is to “provide  development opportunities for diverse leaders and leaders of diverse led arts and cultural organisations to  ensure the sector, at all levels, is increasingly reflective of society” (Arts Council England, n.d.a.). 

Creative Employment Programme, a £15 million (US$22 million) fund to support the creation of traineeships,  formal 12 month apprenticeships and six month paid internship opportunities in England for young  unemployed people ages 16-24 wishing to pursue a career in the arts and cultural sector that ran from 2012- 2015 (Creative and Cultural Skills, n.d.) 

Cultural Equity and Inclusion Initiative 34 Inspire Fellowships, in partnership with the Royal College of art, offered to black and minority ethnicity  

Literature Review 

(BAME) curators studying for an MA in Curating Contemporary Art while working in museums and galleries  around the country (Royal College of Art, 2009).


The literature on cultural equity and inclusion in arts participation (more often than not found by the  keyword “audience”) and nonprofit arts programming is dominated by practitioners in the museum and  theatre worlds, as well as by regional arts commissions, councils, and consortia that have crafted equity related initiatives and recommendations. Discussions about diversification of audiences for “mainstream”  or dominant-culture institutions, that is, institutions oriented towards European-based cultures, tend to  predominate over discussions about supporting, sustaining, and building diverse audiences for  organizations of color and organizations with culturally specific priorities. Because the literature on arts participation and programming are so similar and interrelated, they have been combined into a single  topic for this literature review. This section discusses  

Evolving ideas about audiences and programming 

Efforts to measure and understand audience diversity 

Promising practices in museums 

Promising practices in performing arts organizations 

Funding for diversity and equity  


Evolving ideas about the relationship between art and audiences have changed the way artists and arts  administrators think about diversity, cultural equity and inclusion for audiences and programming. The  Survey of Public Participation in the Arts, a periodic study conducted for the National Endowment for the  Arts has found a declining audience for the arts in the US (2003, 2009, 2013, 2015). They are, however, based on definitions of audiences and the arts that are unnecessarily limited, focusing on the numbers of  people attending formal programs and institutions (e.g. visiting a museum or attending a symphony),  what are now referred to as “benchmark arts.” In contrast, recent research by the Irvine Foundation that  focuses on informal arts participation suggests that participation in the arts is not only robust but is, in  fact, expanding (Brown, Novak, & Kitchener, 2008; Novak-Leonard, Wong, & English, 2015). Forms of  participation identified in the Irvine-funded study The Cultural Lives of Californians (Novak-Leonard,  Reynolds, English & Bradburn, 2015) are four-fold:  

Arts-going and arts-making, involving a physical presence  

Arts learning, which may or may not involve a physically presence  

Arts supporting, by donating, volunteering, or other means 

Arts participation mediated by digital technology  

Whereas the idea of “audience” connotes the passive consumption of benchmark arts in the European  tradition, the expanded notion of “arts participation” accounts for many forms of engagement and  multiple levels of involvement, from performing, appreciating, and managing the arts to teaching, 

Cultural Equity and Inclusion Initiative 35 Literature Review 

learning, and supporting them. It also cuts across sectors, involving artists, students, non-profit staff and  corporate sponsors, as well as government agencies and neighborhood councils. Participation may also  occur informally within a variety of spaces outside the theatre, concert hall, and gallery. These so-called  “unincorporated” or “third sector” arts take place in nontraditional art spaces including homes, parks,  subway stations, public squares, and street corners. 

Another way of looking at equal access to the arts is to see it as being comprised of three key elements:  equality of rights, equality of opportunity and equality of participation. 

All of this suggests that programming geared towards a  

wider participatory public shows promise of building  greater cultural equity and inclusion in arts audiences and programming. By loosening the conceptual  boundaries between audience and public and  employing cultural equity as a motivating principle,  arts organizations can learn to see themselves as part  of a larger community, and programming can be better  understood as a multidirectional process of  engagement and knowledge sharing. 

“If you want to make your audience more  reflective of the overall community, then the  workforce has to be too.”  

–Michelle Wright, on Attracting a Diverse  Workforce

In response to the growing interest of arts nonprofits in participation-based programming, researchers  have advanced a number of conceptual tools for bridging the audience-presenter gap (Brown et al., 2008; Brown & Ratzkin, 2011; Brown, Novak-Leonard & Gilbride, 2011; Stallings 2015). This literature models  key dimensions of arts participation, from level of creative control and modes of engagement to audience  proclivities and social dynamics. One such model is the “Audience Involvement Spectrum” (Brown et al.,  2011), which places arts participation along a continuum from “receptive” to “participatory,” with  spectating and learning on the former side and crowd sourcing, co-creation, and audience-as-artist on the  latter. Another is the “Arc of engagement” (Brown & Ratzkin 2011), which examines the various phases of  activity and experience through which participants pass as they engage with art. There are various ways  these conceptual tools can be used to inform programming. Organizations might, for example, survey  their audience and develop new programs based on the types of engagement that their audiences prefer,  or they might modify existing programs to give participants variable levels of creative control (Stallings, 2015). 


Measuring and understanding diversity in arts participation can be extremely challenging. How it is  measured varies by type of organizations, programs and partnerships involved, as well as by funder  mandates and the socioeconomic makeup of target populations, among other factors. 

Cultural Equity and Inclusion Initiative 36 Literature Review 

In order to measure diversity accurately, organizations must clearly define their terms and establish  parameters. This is crucial to determining if and when equity has been achieved in any particular context. One useful model defines equity in arts participation – including both active engagement and passive  consumption – in terms of access (O’Hagan, 1998). The goal of equal access is comprised of three elements, each of which is a precondition for the next:  

equality of rights: removing formal or customary legal barriers to arts participation  equality of opportunity: “evening the playing field,” or broadening access to arts education,  employment pipelines and performance opportunities 

equality of participation: or “equality of outcome,” where there is measurably greater  participation by underserved populations in terms of numbers and depth of engagement 

Within this construct, how do organizations know when they have achieved equity in arts participation?  Participation data might be viewed in aggregate, as a percentage of the population that is served by the  arts during a given period of time, which can indicate an organization’s overall success in engaging the  public. However, the data must be disaggregated by income, education, age, race/ethnicity and  sex/gender to determine if access to an organization’s programs is distributed across socioeconomic  categories in a manner representative of the larger population. Audience development efforts in the late 1990s focused almost exclusively on the former kind of data. The latter, however, is far more important in  terms of understanding and advocating for equal access (O’Hagan 1998). 

Diversity and equity of participation must be measured both within individual programs and across an  organization’s programmatic roster. Isolated “one-shot” programs and pilots without follow-up plans tend  to fail at meaningful, long-term change and, in some cases, hinder an organization’s efforts to achieve  diversity and equity across audiences and programming (Kamegai-Cocita, 1997). These should be seen as  a type of limited and non-ideal shift in audience composition when audiences of greater diversity show up only on special days (e.g., free family days) or for special events, but never become part of the  institution’s core audience, which remains mostly homogenous. This type of phenomenon, exemplified by  the Colorado Symphony’s Mexican Independence and Martin Luther King, Jr. tribute concerts, has been  referred to as “segregated diversity” (Bond, 2015). 

The rest of this section presents three areas of promising practice in data collection methods to measure  and understand audience diversity. Two come from the LA County Arts Commission, one from Theatre  Bay Area in California and one from the Bonfils-Stanton Foundation in Colorado.  


The LA County Arts Commission has experience collecting audience demographics data in two ways. First  is direct collection of audience data at the Ford Theatres. Second is an effort to collect data on the  audiences of grantees of the Organizational Grants Program (OGP). 

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The Ford Theatre is a 1,200 seat ampitheatre managed and programmed by the LA County Arts  Commission. As one of its goals is to serve the diverse communities of LA County, Ford staff have  collected audience data for several years, primarily through the use of intercept paper surveys combined  with email surveys administered at select shows. 

In 2014 Ford staff made major changes to the survey methodology in order to improve its sampling  process that would allow for a more random sample and thus a more representative view of its audience. As before, shows were selected for survey administration based on the representation of that culture in  the season. Staff whose only responsibility was data collection were hired to work those shows. Surveys  were administered to every Nth person entering (later in the season, surveys were placed on every Nth  chair), where N was determined by ticket sales. In addition, surveys were sent after each of the selected  shows to everyone who had provided an email address when purchasing a ticket online. A total of 6,098  patrons received either an electronic or paper survey. Of those, 1,115 responded, an 18 percent response  rate.  

Respondents were asked, Which of the following describes your ethnic background? and offered Census  categories to choose from. Multiple choice responses were allowed. The charts below shows the makeup  of the audience surveyed by a combination of paper and email surveys (1a) and those who were randomly  surveyed on paper (1b). 

Figure 1a. Aggregated paper and web surveys Figure 1b. Paper surveys only 

Asian or Pacific Islander 

Black or African  


Hispanic or Latino 

Mixed Ethnicity 

Native American 


0% 30% 60% 







Asian or Pacific Islander 

Black or African  


Hispanic or Latino 

Mixed Ethnicity 

Native American 


0% 30% 60%







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The differences are dramatic, and tell the staff much about the differences between the total Ford  audience and the subset of individuals who purchase tickets online. These findings also informed staff  that email surveys are not adequate to get a true picture of the total audience.  


The LA County Arts Commission has sought to collect data on the audiences served by grantees of the  Organizational Grants Program (OGP) through the grant application process, but the results have been  limited. Each year, the Arts Commission makes two-year grants to approximately 200 arts organizations  through OGP. The grant application includes this item: “Describe the applicant’s community/core audience  in terms of geography, age, cultural and economic characteristics, as applicable.” This is an open-ended question, allowing grantees to respond in any way they see fit. Some – including some culturally specific  organizations – state they reach a “general” audience. Some describe special programming designed to  serve specific communities, such as veterans, the homeless, school children or low-income communities.  Some applicants collect detailed data on their audiences and report it. Because each applicant answers  this question in a different way it is not possible to analyze across the entire pool.  

The way the Arts Commission collects this data on grantees is comparable to the way DataArts (formerly  the Cultural Data Project) has tried to answer this question. The data profile form, which all OGP  applicants must complete, includes the question, “Does your organization primarily serve a particular  racial/ethnic group.” For most categories, the vast majority of responses are “General.” For example, in  2012, of the 469 LA County arts nonprofits who reported to the CDP, “general” was the response from 85  percent of organizations in terms of race. Of the remaining 15 percent, most identified more than one  race or ethnic group as their target audience. Of the organizations that identified a specific group,  

4.6 percent (21) reported Hispanic  

3.0 percent (14) reported Asian or Hawaiian  

1.5 percent (7) reported Black  

6.8 percent (32) reported multiple groups  

In addition, 98 percent of organizations reported “general” in terms of gender, and 68 percent in terms of  age. The National Center for Arts Research (NCAR) used the answers to this question to analyze the  organizational characteristics of culturally specific organizations nationally. Of their sample of  organizations that completed the CDP since 2009, 8.7 percent target culturally specific audiences,  suggesting that LA County arts nonprofits may include a greater share of culturally specific arts  organizations compared to the national average (Voss, Voss, Louie, Drew & Teyolia, 2016). 

In establishing the Community Impact Arts Grants (CIAG) in 2015, the Board of Supervisors requested race  and ethnicity data about who is being served by OGP grants. As a proxy, the Arts Commission utilized  Census data for the zip code where each grantee is headquartered and found that of the most recent  grants in the 2014-15 fiscal year, 

Cultural Equity and Inclusion Initiative 39 Literature Review 

6 percent were headquartered in zip codes where the population is more than 25 percent African  American 

16 percent were headquartered in zip codes where the population is more than 25 percent Asian  59 percent were headquartered in zip codes where the population is more than 25 percent  Latino  

69 percent were headquartered in zip codes where the population is more than 25 percent  White.  

The major limitation to this approach is that the data refer only to organizational headquarters and do not  reflect audiences served when arts organizations provide their services at other locations, nor does it  reflect individuals or groups who may travel from other zip codes to participate in arts events provided by  those grantees.  


In 2012, Theatre Bay Area (TBA) received a grant from the California Arts Council to examine the diversity  of Bay Area theatergoers relative to the population as a whole. TBA used an Arts Diversity Index – a  mathematical tool for assessing the diversity of an organization relative to the larger population in which  it exists. Six different types of diversity – household income, education level, age, marital status, gender,  race, and political affiliation – were measured at each organization and compared against the general  population. The resulting “arts index” scores indicated how close to or far from the general population an  organization fell on each measure of diversity. These index scores were then aggregated by type and  measured against each other to see what correlations exist between types of diversity. Diversity index  scores were also measured against company data – number of board members, percent spent on  marketing and communications, age of company, percent revenue earned, total annual budget, and  average adult ticket price – in order to see what correlations existed between types of diversity and  company characteristics. A few key findings were as follows (Lord, 2015):  

On all measures except for gender and education, Bay Area theatergoers were significantly less  diverse than the general population; the racial/ethnic disparity was greatest, followed by (in  descending order) household income, political affiliation, age, marital status, gender, and  education. 

Increased household income diversity was correlated with increased race/ethnicity, gender,  marital status, and educational diversity. Of all diversity types, income diversity had the largest  number of positive correlations. 

Increased racial/ethnic diversity was correlated with increased age and marital diversity Increased political diversity was correlated with decreases in income, marital, and gender  diversity. 

The size and age of a company was correlated with fluctuations in all types of diversity. Most  notably, the oldest and largest companies demonstrated the most racial/ethnic diversity in  audience composition.

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The study’s primary takeaway was that a range of diversity types, and company characteristics, must be  taken into account when any one type is being considered. For example, while the racial/ethnic disparity  in Bay Area theatergoing is vast and may seem difficult to address in and of itself, the problem may  become more manageable when approached through the positively correlated measures of income, age,  and marital diversity (Lord, 2015). 


The Bonfils-Stanton Foundation, a prominent arts funding and research group in Denver, conducted an  audience diversity study to examine audience diversification efforts at several area large arts presenters,  including Colorado Ballet, Colorado Symphony, and the Denver Center for the Performing Arts (Bond,  2015). This was focused on diversifying Denver’s mainstream, benchmark arts organizations and did not  include such smaller “culturally specific” organization as Su Teatro, a Latino theatre company that views  its priority as serving Denver’s communities of color.  

The Bonfils-Stanton study concluded that building diverse audiences (at large mainstream institutions)  requires arts presenters to  

strategize in multiple areas simultaneously, including marketing to target audiences build “one-to-one” relationships with patrons  

develop programming content that is “authentic” and “relevant,” forming “meaningful  connections” with and among community organizations, community leaders, and artists invest in organizational and institutional change  

The final two points are of particular note. Diverse programming will not fully connect with the public if it  is simply an add-on; it must emerge organically from an institution/organization that not only presents  diversity, but also represents diversity in its very makeup: “A wealth of research on audience  development illustrates that, however a person comes to a performance and whatever happens on the  stage,” writes Bond (2015), “a meaningful shift to audience diversity is unlikely without a foundation of  true inclusion at every institutional level. Without culturally representative influences on the executive  staff or in the board room, for example, many cultural organizations are left to make guesses about what  does or doesn’t serve, motivate or reach non-white audiences, when they consider the question at all”  (Bond, 2015).  

As a result, mainstream, benchmark Denver institutions like the Colorado Opera, Symphony, and Ballet,  have started presenting more inclusive programs, in this case highlighting Latino and African-American  artists and content; collaborating with local theatre groups on a black box series; and producing free live  streaming of performances. The diversification of programming, in other words, if it is to be successful,  must stem from an overall institutional “evolution” – a transformation from the inside out (Bond, 2015).  

The Bonfils-Stanton study demonstrated that the transformation of mainstream arts entities isn’t enough  to ensure full inclusion and equity in the arts; in fact, disproportional attention to, and funding of, 

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diversification efforts at large and powerful institutions might actually hamper the achievement of full  cultural equity (Bond, 2015). One potential problem is the diversion of participants of color from the  organizations that depend on their patronage for survival. The other side of this issue is the lack of capacity and resources for audience diversification efforts by organizations of color, which tend to have  smaller budgets and fewer individual donors (DeVos Institute of Arts Management, 2015). The challenge,  in other words, is figuring out how to grow audiences for, and leverage more resources in support of,  smaller organizations that serve communities of color. This is a burden that should not rest on the  shoulders of communities of color alone, but rather be part of a wider public mandate (Bond, 2015). 


Demographic data alone is not sufficient for a complete understanding of arts audiences. Demographic  characteristics must be understood as part of a complex of factors, including psychographic traits such as  preferences for challenging experiences, active participation, and learning new things; personal history of arts attendance, or lack thereof, with one’s family; and environmental factors like exhibit and membership  costs, as well as the presence of active word-of-mouth networks, which account for more visits than does  marketing (Falk, 1993; Falk, 1998). Data also shows that audience decisions to participate, or not, in the  arts has as much to do with these demographic, psychographic, personal and environmental factors as it  does with the “intrinsic value” of the artwork itself (Hood, 1983, cited in Mintz, 1997). 

Ethnic groups are not homogenous and should not be treated as such. Nor is any other group an arts  organization may seek to include. Arts organizations, when faced with demographic changes in their  potential audiences, must also recognize and account for the ways in which factors of education and  income lead to “polarization” within ethnic/racial groups. Japanese and Hmong in the US, for example,  

diverge greatly on measures of household income and educational attainment (Mintz, 1997), factors that  likely affect their relative levels of arts participation (Rabkin & Hedberg, 2011; Stern, 2011; Stallings,  2015). Within ethnic groups, and within immigrant and refugee populations, the length of time lived in  the US makes for differing perspectives and values. It is important to understand this in order to avoid  making claims about participation levels based on race/ethnicity alone, and to understand it rather as  rooted in a complex of factors that shape how families engage with the arts.  


This section presents case studies of five museums that have made notable efforts toward diversity in  their audiences/visitors and programming:  

Museum of Contemporary Art (San Diego): Reaching a wider Latino audience through multiple  community engagement initiatives and the formation of a cultural advisory committee

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Indianapolis Museum of Arts: Reaching a wider Black audience through marketing, dedicated  staffing, corporate partnerships, and community relations 

New Asian Art Museum (San Francisco): Reaching a wider Asian audience through visitor surveys, community engagement, and co-curation 

Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa: Transforming a European-oriented arts institution  into a bicultural one 

The Inclusive Museum: Museum of English Rural Life at University of Reading, U.K.: Preserving rural intangible heritage through consultation, collaborative interpretation and co-curation 

Both their work and the lessons they have learned offer models and promising practices not only for  museums but all types of arts organizations in all disciplines. 


A series of initiatives beginning in the late 1980s by the Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego, to  reach the area’s Latino communities shows how programming and community engagement can be  mutually reinforcing components of diversification efforts. In the late 1980s, MoCA San Diego partnered  with the city’s premier Latino cultural organization, Centro Cultural de la Raza, to develop the “Dos  Ciudades/Two Cities project,” which culminated in the 1993 exhibit La Frontera/The Border: Art about the  Mexico/US border experience. The exhibit toured to five institutions, including one in Tijuana. An  accompanying publication drew sustained attention to the project. In 1995, MoCA continued its  diversification efforts with the “Arte/Comunidad” initiative, funded by Pew and Irvine (under a “museums  and their communities” grant program), which led to the creation of a high school arts program called  STREETsmART, an artist residency at a children’s center, the creation of a community outreach  coordinator position, and a series of museum visitor studies.  

In 1996, with support from the Lila Wallace Readers Digest Fund (for “accessibility initiatives”), MoCA set  out to cultivate middle class Latinos in the region as patrons and partners in the museum’s diversification  efforts. The initiative, entitled “Ojos Diversos/With Different Eyes” was designed to build audiences in  three areas: 1) Knowledge about MoCA, via marketing partnerships with Latino media and public  programming relevant to Latinos in San Diego; 2) Attendance at exhibitions and public events; and 3)  Support of MoCA, by driving membership, corporate sponsorship, and philanthropic donations. More  recently, MoCA’s “Pan-American Project” shifted the focus of programming to young emerging Latino  artists across the Americas (Farell, 1997). 

These initiatives, combined, led to several important outcomes. First is that it helped MoCA develop a  more nuanced understanding of the Latino audiences they serve. As the range of program themes at  MoCA show, successful diversification efforts must be sensitive to the varieties of experiences, identities,  and demographics that exist within broad racial/ethnic designations. The museum’s success in diversifying 

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its audiences was also the result of a forward-looking, long-term commitment to building relationships  with Latino communities in the San Diego region. An important strategy was the formation of a Latino  Cultural Advisory Committee (LCAC) to help with programming, development, and partnership cultivation.  Members of the LCAC were also invited to sit on the museum’s board of trustees as part of the board’s  Community Outreach and Marketing Committee. Other outcomes included the development of bi-lingual  communications, marketing, and interpretive material, as well the establishment of free family Sunday  programs at accessible locations. The museum has also begun identifying and deepening contextual  information for its permanent collection of Latino artwork (Farell, 1997). 


When the Indianapolis Museum of Art (IMA) surveyed its visitors in 1990, it discovered that only 2% of  African Americans in Indianapolis had ever visited the museum. One of the primary barriers to attendance  identified was the perception among African Americans that the museum was both inaccessible to the  community (in the sense of “exclusive”) and that its exhibitions weren’t relevant to the community (White  & Helmus, 1997). 

In response, the IMA set up a task force and embarked on a diversification initiative with funding from the  Lila Wallace Readers Digest Fund and local black-owned businesses. Their strategy involved:  

Programming community-based exhibits and events based on the museum’s permanent  collection of African art. These programs were designed to attract “non-traditional” visitors by  creating a “festival” atmosphere through the incorporation of music, dance, and family activities.  The first of these, Africafest, commenced in 1993 and has since grown into a popular event (White & Helmus, 1997).  

Building relationships with media outlets and marketing through those known to be used by  diverse audiences.  

Collaborating with like-minded local nonprofits, with whom the museum could exchange services  and gain greater access to local patrons. This included involvement with area after-school and  youth career programs, which helped raise the museum’s visibility in the community.  

Cultivating private and corporate support, especially by black philanthropists and business  owners.  

Hiring staff to oversee their “audience development” efforts and creating an Educational  Outreach Coordinator position. Part this staff’s work was to help leverage the popularity of  Africafest to grow regular membership.  

The IMA’s diversity initiative proved a modest success, with a 4% increase in African American  membership, the growth of Africafest into a major area attraction, and a sustainable community engagement program (White & Helmus, 1997).

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The example of San Francisco’s New Asian Art Museum (NAAM) demonstrates how building a diverse  audience base is crucial not just for mainstream organizations but also for the survival of culturally specific  arts organizations. Although NAAM held strong and culturally relevant content, it still had a difficult time  drawing Asian visitors (Ragland-Dilworth, 1997). 

The museum conducted audience surveys and convened discussions with Asian community leaders. What  the NAAM learned was that Asians in general perceived the museum as “aloof and uninterested in them.”  Based on suggestions from the community leadership, the museum’s efforts to build Asian audiences  included:  

Involving community organization and leaders in programming decisions, and using these  channels to draw locals to the museum for events and educational programming, including  career fairs for young people.  

Participating in Asian community celebrations and events, as well as hosting relevant events  during Asian holidays.  

Soliciting community involvement in exhibitions through a steering committee of Asian  community leaders and a museum volunteer committee.  

Conducting “market research” and evaluation. 

As a result of this commitment to building more diverse audiences, the museum’s core attendance tripled  between 1994-1998, including a 25% increase in Asian membership. The diversity of the museum’s  volunteer corps has increased, including the growth of Asian volunteer participation to 34% of the corps.  The museum also learned what it needed to do to maintain these achievements, namely create a multi lingual environment, a comfortable social space, showcase “high-quality” art, and make exhibits  interactive. The museum found that education and income levels are still the main determinates of  museum attendance among Asians, a reminder that it is profitable to take multiple measures of diversity  into account, even when targeting one (Ragland-Dilworth, 1997). 


In the 1990s, The Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa sought to transform itself from a  Eurocentric institution into a site bridging the country’s European and Maori heritages. This  transformation was based on four principles. First was the understanding that the museum would be bi cultural. This principle would be reflected in everything from architecture and interpretive material to the  composition of the museum’s leadership. This principle of biculturalism applies even to norms of visitor  interaction with the collection. While in European museum culture participants strive to understand the  “life behind the object,” for Maori what matters is an “affective connection” to the objects and to the  “spirit contained in [them].” The museum, therefore, took on the role of “caretaker,” not owner, of the  Maori objects in their collection. Maintaining the legitimacy of this role requires continual and long-term 

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outreach to and partnership with New Zealand’s Maori communities. The second principle is for the  museum to be patron focused, which includes creating a variety of indoor and outdoor spaces designed to  be welcoming for people of European and Maori background alike. Third is the recognition and validation  of both European and Maori intellectual heritages, which took the form of bicultural scholarly  partnerships and the development of bilingual and bicultural interpretive material. The final principle is  that the museum be commercially viable and financially sustainable (Tramposch, 1998). 

Institutional transformations like that of the Museum of New Zealand require a cultural relativism  predicated on the de-centering of Western aesthetic and institutional standards. In the museum context,  this means seeing art not only as an object of preservation, but also as part of the active cultural and  social life of a community (Scarborough, 1998). 

Institutions like the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, in other words, may be seen as more  than sites of object curation; they should be seen, rather, as “meeting places of culture” (Archabal, 1998). The understanding of museums as places where a society’s common culture – its “multiculture” – can  thrive is necessary to building institutions that are responsive to the needs of their surrounding  communities. As much as they are “institutions of memory,” museums are also crucial to the sustenance  of living cultures in a rapidly changing world. In other words, museums’ responsibilities extend to making  sure that the “customs, languages, traditions, and environments of local people can thrive in the larger  context of globalization” (Archabal, 1998). 


The International Institute for the Inclusive Museum (IIIM) is an online network of educational, research,  and cultural institutions that exchange knowledge and resources across a variety of disciplines and  geographical specialties. What all participating institutions and organizations share is a commitment to  international standards and goals for cultural diversity and development that have recently been  advanced by the International Council of Museums (ICOM), UNESCO, and the UN (International Institute  for the Inclusive Museum, n.d.) 

The Museum of English Rural Life (MERL) at University of Reading, U.K., is an IIIM partner that is applying UNESCO-defined notions of intangible heritage to the practice of a rural community museum. The  museum is in an unusual position in that it is also university-based, which gives it a research mandate and  the resources to carry it out (Smith, 2009). MERL was founded in 1951 as an initiative to collect and curate  artifacts of rural artisanal traditions perceived to be endangered by modernity. Engagement with local craftspeople was limited mainly to the consultation and documentation of traditional knowledge.  

This preservationist approach was followed until the early 2000s when the museum reinvented itself as a  meeting place for the performance and discussion of rural folk culture past and present, and as a space  where the polyphony of voices that constitute “English rural culture” could be heard. Reorienting the  narrative away from loss and towards cultural continuity, the museum introduced concerts of 

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contemporary rural folk music and films documenting present-day artisanal culture. One of their key  discoveries was that participation in cultural heritage practices today is not necessarily based in  inheritance, but is rather something people elect to do. The museum also developed partnerships with  non-arts community organizations, such as a collaborative interpretation project with student researchers  at University of Reading and co-curated an exhibit about the U.K.’s Women’s Institute, in partnership with The Women’s Library, London. Most recently, they have engaged the National Federation of Young  Farmers Clubs in a photography exhibit about the lives of rural young people. 


August Wilson Red Door Project (Portland, OR): Lessons learned enacting the City of Portland’s  2012 equity plan  

Arts Council England (ACE) National Portfolio Organizations: Duckie and Stopgap Theatre Co.:  Expanding diversity in terms of sexual orientation, age, class and ability  

Muntu Dance Theatre (Chicago, IL): Culturally specific arts organization expanding its audience  demographics  


The August Wilson Red Door Project emerged in response to the City of Portland’s 2012 equity plan,  which mandated that arts organizations diversify their audiences, staff, and boards in order to help  balance the “racial ecology” of the region. The Red Door Project, named after Wilson’s chosen symbol of  racial healing and redemption, is an initiative of the Portland Equity in the Arts Consortium (PEAC), a  network of small theatre companies. The consortium members are PlayWrite, Inc.; Artists Repertory  Theatre; Hand2Mouth Theatre; Portland Playhouse and Third Rail Repertory Theatre.  

In their 2013 year-end report to funder James and Marion Miller Foundation, PEAC members reflected on  what they had learned by participating in the Red Door Project. Among the lessons learned were the  following:  

While it is important to engage with existing community leadership, arts organizations must also  learn to see themselves as community leaders with responsibilities to their constituents Internal reflection and change within arts organizations is a necessary condition of wider  diversification of the arts ecology 

Identifying and cultivating “bridges” or “connectors” – people or groups that can link  organizations with different community segments – is crucial to the engagement process

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Inclusion isn’t a zero sum game – organizations should avoid yielding to “false choices,” e.g.,  increasing the bottom line through ticket sales versus attracting audiences of color; diversity is a  complex issue that demands complex and creative solutions 

Audience diversity is about more than increasing attendance and membership by people of color;  it’s “part of a bigger discussion about keeping theatre relevant to new generations” and  enhancing civic life 

There’s never enough time or money, which is exactly why diversity needs to be a non negotiable priority, a principle built into every level of organizations’ daily operations (August  Wilson Red Door Project, 2013). 


As part of its 2014 initiative to promote diversity and inclusion in the staff, boards, programming and  audiences of its grantees, Arts Council England (ACE) required participating National Portfolio  Organizations (NPOs) and Major Partner Museums (MPMs) to develop “equality action plans” and  demonstrate greater representation and inclusion of underserved populations in their arts programs (see  Case Study, p. 32). This section highlights two ACE-funded NPOs that focus on diversities of sexual  orientation, age, class and ability.  

Duckie, an ACE-funded NPO that describes itself as a “post-queer performance and events collective,” has  its roots in London’s late twentieth-century queer working-class club culture (Duckie, n.d.). Duckie  produces what they call “event culture” – interactive entertainment experiences that blur the boundaries  between disciplines and genres, audiences and performers. Their programming centers on their “socially  engaged arts clubs” focused on different specific groups, including working-class people over age sixty, LGBTQ youth, and Londoners struggling with homelessness, addiction and other vulnerabilities. As a  product of London’s working-class gay community, Duckie’s founder Simon Casson has sought to apply  the lessons of his own experience of marginalization to developing arts programs that engage other  marginalized communities. Posh Club, which now draws year-round capacity crowds, has successfully  demonstrated that “queer world-making tactics can be exported to other contexts of marginalization”  (Walters, 2015). Duckie’s programming – through its informality and interdisciplinarity – seeks to break  down the conventions and pretensions of upper class theatergoing, factors that Casson believes alienate  London’s marginalized populations, and pose barriers to fuller participation in the arts (Stratton, 2002). 

ACE-funded NPO Stopgap Theatre is a mixed-ability dance company whose guiding principle is “inclusive  choreography.” Focused on building dance participation by people with physical and learning disabilities,  Stopgap runs performance companies, inclusive professional artist training programs and community  outreach programs targeting schools and community centers. They also produce publications highlighting  pedagogical and professional practices for mixed-ability companies. The company emphasizes that  diversity is fundamentally about using difference to fuel creative growth: “Rather than denying the  disability or pretending that we are all the same, we are reaping the artistic rewards on offer because of

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our differences” (Stopgap Dance Company, n.d., italics in original). From its origins as a small community  project in 1995, Stopgap has grown in size and scope of vision, garnering international recognition for  both its inclusivity and the quality of artistry. It is now acknowledged as the U.K.’s first mixed-ability  touring company and Britain’s first inclusive company to produce original feature-length work for the  international touring circuit. The company’s teaching staff is also mixed-ability, and their program  graduates often return as mentors and collaborators. 


Founded in 1972, Chicago-based Muntu Dance Theatre specializes in the music, dance, and folklore of  Africa and the African Diaspora. In the 1990s the company sought to diversify its audiences in multiple  ways and on multiple fronts. Leadership noticed that while its core audience in Chicago was  predominantly African-American, its touring audiences were more than three-quarters white.  

In order to attract more diverse audiences on tour, the company developed the How to Market Muntu Kit in order to help presenters more effectively reach audiences of color. On the home front, Muntu  addressed the challenges of Chicago’s changing demography, specifically the company’s lack of white,  young and Northside patrons, by focusing on growing audience diversity by race, age and geography. To  achieve this, they built stronger ties with Northside Chicago by scheduling regular performances and  workshops there, marketed more effectively to local white audiences by targeting media outlets with  predominantly white patrons, reached more diverse audiences through corporate partnerships, and  developed educational outreach programs aimed at young people. While all of these approaches worked  to grow audience diversity, the youth outreach strategy seems to have had the most significant impact,  leading to concert audiences comprised of, in some cases, 50 percent teens and young adults. More  important than driving attendance, it cultivated appreciable interest, involvement, and investment in  Muntu by a whole new generation of Chicagoans (Arts Marketing Center of the Arts & Business Council of  Chicago, 2000). 


Arts and culture funders can play critical roles in changing the arts ecology by supporting research on  diversity and equitable practice, and by offering arts organizations the guidance and capacity-building  resources they need to redirect their principles, priorities, and programs towards the goal of equity. Two  leaders in this regard have been the National Endowment for the Arts and the James Irvine Foundation. 


In 1971, the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) established the Expansion Arts Program (EAP), which  was designed to “assist professionally directed arts organizations of high artistic quality that are deeply 

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rooted in and reflective of the culture of a minority, inner city, rural, or tribal community.” In other words,  it sought to reach people of color, poor rural white communities, and otherwise marginalized and  underserved artists and arts organizations. (Rhode Island Expansion Arts Program, n.d.; National  Endowment for the Arts, 1989). A number of the program’s first grantees, including the Alvin Ailey  American Dance Theater (New York) and the Japanese American Community and Cultural Center (Los  Angeles) grew from small community initiatives into internationally renowned institutions (NEA, 2009).  The problem the NEA had recognized and sought to address was not the quality of community based art,  or even the possibility of its large scale appeal. It was, instead, a matter of recognition and resources. 

EAP led to several innovative national projects, including the Advancement Program, which offered  managerial and capacity-building assistance to local arts organizations; and the Community Foundation  Initiative, which offered seed grants to local philanthropic foundations, enabling them to establish  endowments that support community-based arts. In the face of budget cuts, the NEA was forced to end  the EAP in 1995. While parts of the EAP were folded into the NEA’s existing programs, the impact on  community organizations was devastating. More than sixty percent of the organizations receiving EAP  assistance in the mid-1990s were shuttered within five years of the program’s end (Rhode Island  Expansion Arts Program, n.d.).  

The legacy of the EAP was not entirely lost, however. The Community Foundation Initiative, which  emerged from the EAP and ran from 1985-1994, had a lasting impact on the communities in which it  granted seed money to local philanthropic foundations. An exemplar in this regard is the Rhode Island  Foundation, which received a seed grant from the EAP in 1985 to build an endowment that would more  equitably allocate arts funding in the region. They used this relatively small grant ($200,000) to leverage  enough private funds to establish an endowment for community-based arts in Rhode Island. Today the  Rhode Island Foundation, in partnership with the Rhode Island State Council on the Arts and the Rhode  Island Council for the Humanities, offers grants to “small organizations whose programs and missions  center on the cultural practices and traditions of Rhode Island’s diverse peoples,” with emphases on both  integrating “newly-emerging groups” into the region’s arts ecology and supporting these same  organizations’ community-specific mandates for “cultural preservation, education, and youth  development” (Rhode Island Foundation, n.d.). 

More recently, in 2016 the California Arts Council launched the Cultural Pathways grant program  specifically for “small and emerging organizations rooted in communities of color, recent immigrant and  refugee communities, or tribal groups” (California Arts Council, 2016). The goals of this new grant  program are to strengthen the capacity of arts organizations that serve and represent the diversity of  California, and to provide significant professional development and technical assistance to those  organizations and their leaders. 


For a decade now, the James Irvine Foundation has taken the lead in sponsoring innovative research on  arts engagement in California and supporting organizations committed to making the state’s arts ecology 

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more diverse and equitable. In 2013, Irvine established the Exploring Engagement Fund (EEF) to “provide  risk capital for California arts organizations with innovative ideas and a readiness to take bold steps that  will engage new and diverse populations” (Irvine Foundation, 2014). The three-prong goal of the EFF is to  help arts organizations strengthen their commitment to engagement as a core principle, to program for  engagement in experimental and innovative ways, and to develop a community of practice dedicated to  arts engagement in California. More specifically, Irvine encourages their grantees to invest time in  building trust with their constituents, partnering strategically with community organizations, making the  arts more appealing and accessible to “nontraditional” audiences, and by programming for community  spaces rather than traditional venues.  

Irvine has made 91 EEF grants to date, with a total investment of $15.5 million. The 52 organizational  grantees surveyed for the 2012-2013 phase produced 1,417 events in all, reaching a total of 127,074  participants. Grantees reported that more than half of the events attracted majority audiences of color  (with per event numbers between 70 and 100 percent), while just under half of the events were attended  primarily by low-income participants (Irvine Foundation, 2014).

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As part of their “initiative to promote equitable access to arts and culture” in Oregon’s Clackamas, Multnomah, and  Washington counties, the Regional Arts & Culture Council (RACC), with assistance from research and evaluation firm CR  Smith Consulting, developed the toolkit An Introduction to Engaging Diverse Audiences (2014).  

RACC defines diversity as “the range of unique characteristics of individuals including race, ethnicity, gender, sexual  orientation, socio-economic status, age, physical abilities, religious beliefs or other ideologies, and relationship to place  (rural/urban).” And they define equity as the condition in which “everyone has access to the opportunities necessary to  satisfy their essential needs, advance their well-being, and achieve their full potential.” 

Their recommendations for increasing diversity, cultural equity and inclusion are as follows: 

Establish a foundation. Honestly assess where you currently stand and commit to making the principle of equity  foundational to all of your organization’s work. This includes coming to a shared definition of terms. Diversity and equity are widely used terms, but it’s important for an organization to articulate its own understanding of  them. RACC is careful to note that this means both carving new paths to access and removing existing barriers.  The goal of “foster[ing] equitable access to the arts by increasing the participation of and engagement with  diverse audiences” must be embedded in the mission, values, culture, and structure of an  

organization/institution. It is important to understand that this isn’t just “the right thing to do”; it is “vital for an  organization’s economic sustainability.” 

Assess your current audience. Collect data on audiences based on both census categories and self identification. Ideally this information would be analyzed yearly for comparative purposes.  Define audience segments [and plan outreach]. Categorize your audiences into segments. Who is  underrepresented? Who do you want to reach out to? Who is going to lead this effort and what resources  (human, financial, or material) do you need to accomplish it?  

Determine programs and events. Consider relevance and appeal of current programs to audience segments you  want to engage. Programming is about relationship building and “engagement is a two-way street.” An arts  organization cannot expect a community to become invested in them if the arts organization is not also  invested in the community. It’s important, then, for arts organizations to participate in community and wider  civic events. Even more valuable is for the organization to develop staff and board that are more representative  of the general public and can help forge sustainable partnerships with target communities. “Continuity is key”;  pilots and one-shot programs won’t have a lasting impact.  

Develop a marketing and communications plan. On this point, RACC cites Nicole Lane, Marketing and PR  Director for Portland’s Artist Repertory Theater. Marketing to diverse and historically marginalized segments of  the public (in this case as potential theater audiences) isn’t actually about marketing, per se; “it’s about  learning and acknowledging the barriers to diverse audiences’ seeing themselves as theatergoers, then trying  to reduce the roadblocks.” More broadly, this means understanding marketing and communications, like  programming, as part of a process of community engagement and relationship building. It’s essential in this  regard for arts organizations to ask what relationships they already have that can be leveraged, what  relationships need to be cultivated, and what types of media and communication tools will be most effective  for reaching the target segment. Portland’s Metro Youth Symphony, for example, built sustained relationships  – not just single campaigns – with Spanish-language media and as a result were able to double Latino/Hispanic  enrollment between the 2012/13 and 2014 /15 seasons. 

Evaluate progress. Regular self-assessment, in the form of qualitative feedback and demographic data  collection, is crucial to understanding how to move forward in terms of programming, staffing, and marketing.

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While the arts and culture ecology in the US is dominated economically by large institutions primarily  working in benchmark arts in the European tradition, the landscape is replete with organizations both  formal and informal that draw upon ethnic, folk and religious traditions in their work. The leadership,  

staff, audiences and programming of these organizations may have been marginalized within mainstream  organizations working in benchmark arts disciplines, or within the larger arts ecology. These organizations  provide opportunities for communities to experience new forms of art and culture; give artists rooted in  ethnic communities the opportunity to practice their art, hone their craft and build audiences; and they  are places where people outside the mainstream learn organizational management and board leadership  skills. At the same time, the workforce and boards of many culturally specific arts organizations have  gained their experience in mainstream organizations. To fully measure the diversity, cultural equity and  inclusion in arts and culture across all of LA County, it is important to understand the role and  contribution of this set of arts organizations. This part of the arts and culture ecology is often not  considered within general frameworks of diversity, cultural inclusion and the arts. Culturally specific arts  organization have been given a separate section in order to ensure that its unique perspectives, concerns  and role are not lost in a more general conversation.  

Considering their role in the larger arts ecology, literature on diversity, cultural equity and inclusion vis-à vis culturally specific arts organizations is notably thin. Moreover, the nature of the relationships between  large, benchmark arts organizations and grassroots arts organizations and artists has not been fully  explored. These relationships are multidirectional and are affected by larger societal forces. This literature  review did not identify any research on strategies for drawing upon traditional, folk, and religious arts  communities in order to increase diversity, cultural equity and inclusion in arts and culture. There is  national research on arts organizations of color and some local analysis of new immigrant and refugee  arts activity. A recurring theme in the literature on both of these types of organizations and communities  is that they encompass a wide range of activities beyond artistic pursuits in the European tradition.  Analysis of culturally specific organizations and arts activity suggests avenues for supporting and  strengthening these organizations, but the size of this sector is not known. Moreover, no one has  measured the impact on interventions for these organizations on the larger arts and culture sector. This  section discussions what and who culturally specific arts organizations are, as well as promising practices  toward supporting them.  

There is evidence that culturally specific arts organizations include diverse racial and ethnic groups in their  staffs, boards, artists, and audiences (Bowles, 1992). According to the survey of organizations reported in  Cultural Centers of Color, between 58 and 75 percent of culturally specific arts organizations of color  included European Americans. Of the culturally specific groups in this study (African American, Asian  American, Latino American and Native American), African American and Latino American organizations  were the most likely to be ethnically diverse. There are undoubtedly lessons to be learned from these  organizations on fostering diverse leadership and community involvement, but little literature was  discovered that investigates this potential specifically. 

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Literature on arts organizations outside of the European tradition and benchmark art forms has used  several different terms to define its object of inquiry, and recent attempts to quantify how many  organizations make up this sector have used significantly different definitions. The NEA report Cultural  Centers of Color uses the term “ethnically specific arts organizations of color” to designate organizations  that included more than 51 percent of one ethnic group among their staffs, boards, artists, and audiences  and uses “multi-ethnic” to designate organizations with approximately equal groups of at least two  communities of color (totaling 51 or more of the organization’s participants) (Bowles, 1992). This report  was based on a survey of nonprofit arts organizations of which 543 organizations reported that they fit  these criteria. Since then, analyses have been made based on the Form 990 filings of nonprofit ethnic,  cultural, and folk organizations collected by the National Center for Charitable Statistics (Rosenstein &  Brimer, 2005; Rosenstein, 2006). These studies classified organizations that work in a single artistic  discipline in a contemporary or classical non-Western form with their artistic disciplines (for example,  Chinese opera was classified under opera) and these organizations were not included unless they were oriented more largely towards cultural heritage or community identity (Rosenstein & Brimer, 2005). The  most recent study of such organizations in U.S. and Canada also used Form 990 filings supplemented with  extensive research, but instead used the term “ethnocultural, or ethnically/culturally specific, arts  organizations” and included in this designation any “nonprofit organization that preserves, promotes,  and/or develops, as evidenced from mission statement, programming, or both, the cultures of one or  more explicitly identified ethnic group through the arts” (Matlon, Van Haastrecht & Mengüç, 2014). 

At the same time, some artists and arts organizations of color interested in participating in mainstream  artistic categories might resist efforts to treat their artistic forms separately from mainstream forms  (Jackson, 2003; Lena & Cornfield, 2008). As noted in the section about measuring diverse audiences  among Organizational Grant Program recipients, culturally specific arts organizations may not wish to  identify as culturally specific and may answer survey questions in ways that make them blend in to  mainstream organizations in the data. On the other hand, many culturally specific arts organizations argue  that they are unique and have different needs than mainstream organizations (Bowles, 1992; Stern et al.,  2010). One evaluation of the Canadian Council for the Arts’ programs for Aboriginal art reported that  there was significant support for dedicated programs for Aboriginal artists and organizations but also that  these programs are not well supported by a discipline based approach (Canadian Council for the Arts,  2015). The challenge of how best to quantify and analyze arts activities in communities of color is  ongoing. 

The approach of using Form 990 filings is a common method used to capture cultural organizations  outside of benchmark artistic disciplines. However this is controversial as it includes White ethnocultural  organizations (for example, the Alliance Française). There may be advantages to subsuming “folk” and  “traditional” arts into the sector of culturally specific arts organizations. However, this approach risks  shifting the focus away from racially and ethnically diverse organizations and missing the challenges these  organizations face. For example, one recent study focused on ethnic activities in a specific geographical 

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area adopted this approach by including African-Americans and Native Americans in a broad study of  ethnic activities regardless of how recently arrived those ethnic communities are (Lackey, 2013). While  this study notes the distinction between voluntary and involuntary immigration that separates the  experiences of African American and Native American groups from other groups of immigrants, the  analysis of the data from these groups does not isolate different challenges that these communities might  be facing because of these different experiences. 

There is another approach that targets new immigrant groups and refugee communities in particular. This  research on arts participation in local immigrant communities has drawn on Census data on the foreign  born population, supplemented with surveys and interviews or participant observation (Moriarty, 2004;  Stern, Seifert, & Vitiello, 2010; Wali, Severson & Longoni, 2002). Some studies of smaller subsets of arts  organizations of color have used profiles of arts organizations in addition to or instead of survey data  (DeVos Institute of Arts Management, 2015; Farrell & Fred, 2008). One report on folk and traditional arts  also used in-depth profiles of communities and traditions and usefully targeted examples of successful  support for the traditions profiled (Peterson, 1996). 

While these analyses capture a larger universe of culturally specific organizations, there is widespread acknowledgment that communities of color engage in arts activities not captured in these statistics.  People of color and immigrants participate in the arts in community organizations like churches and  community centers and more informal settings like at home (Bowles, 1992; Peterson, 1996; Bye, 2004;  Jackson, 2009; Matlon et al., 2014; Novak-Leonard, Reynolds, English, & Bradburn, 2015; Stern et al.,  2010; Wali, et al., 2002). Additionally, looking at the arts activity of organizations alone fails to capture the  work of folk artists and other individual artists (Bowles, 1992; Peterson, 1996; Jackson, 2003). 


Organizations staffed by and primarily serving non-European Americans are subject to larger structural  forces like racism and poverty that impede their success (Tseng, 2015). In addition, the conversation  around cultural equity and inclusion in the arts and culture sector acknowledges that some of the art  forms represented by these organizations face challenges when seeking legitimation from a sector  dominated by European art forms. For instance, there is evidence that arts organizations of color are  significantly underserved by the philanthropic community (Sidford, 2011). 

Yet there is disagreement about how to define success and organizational health for culturally specific  arts organizations. Some assume that if barriers to success, such as the lack of resources and opportunity, are removed, arts organizations of color would be as successful as their mainstream counterparts (DeVos  Institute of Arts Management, 2015). Others argue that organizational health may look different for  culturally specific arts organizations, and therefore they need different supports than mainstream arts  organizations to be successful (Stern et al., 2010; Matlon et al., 2014; Voss, Voss, Louie, Drew & Teyolia,  2016).

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Funding inequity over time in the larger art ecology has created budget challenges for culturally specific  arts organizations. Recently, one major debate about organizational health has centered around how to  measure the financial health of culturally specific arts organizations and how funders should encourage  the financial health of the sector. The DeVos Institute of Arts Management issued a report in September  

2015 that compared the financial health of African American and Latino museums, dance, and theater  companies to mainstream arts organizations. They found that the largest organizations of color surveyed  had significantly smaller budgets than the largest of their mainstream counterparts. In this comparison,  arts organizations of color had fewer individual donors and were more reliant on grants from foundations  and government sources. The DeVos Institute concluded from this analysis that most arts organizations of  color are struggling and used examples of successful arts organizations of color to argue for leadership  capacity building to balance different streams of income. The report further argued that, given the large  number of struggling organizations, funders might consider making larger grants to a smaller number of  organizations to help foster long term fiscal health. 

Some have rebutted this suggestion and argue that the DeVos Institute of Arts Management report  ignores the structural racism that has created challenges for arts organizations of color (Tseng, 2015). Others have pointed out that different organizational models may be appropriate for culturally specific  organizations to be successful. The National Center for Arts Research (NCAR) issued their own analysis of  culturally specific arts organizations in comparison to mainstream arts organizations (Voss et al., 2016). They found that after controlling for sector differences and organizational age, culturally specific arts  organizations have similar-sized budgets and physical facilities compared to mainstream arts  organizations. In addition, they found that organizations that primarily serve African Americans, Asian  Americans, and Latinos have different financial characteristics compared to mainstream organizations, and they are different from each other. Since their budget sizes are comparable to other organizations  with different financial models, NCAR argues that “culturally specific organizations’ distinguishing  characteristics deserve to be recognized and understood for what they are, neither good nor bad nor a  sign of ineffectiveness but simply a different starting place” (Voss et al., 2016). 

Another recurring debate in the conversations about how best to serve culturally specific arts organizations centers around the customary disciplinary boundaries in the arts and culture sector and  whether these pigeonhole those organizations and thus limit the support that flows to them (DeVos  Institute of Arts Management, 2015). These disciplines largely define what it means to be artistically  successful and artists of color may wish to be evaluated on their general artistic merit, not their cultural  origins (Jackson, 2003). In addition, available funding for culturally specific art forms in the traditional or  folk categories is often much smaller than for the customary disciplines (Lena & Cornfield, 2008). Yet  artists may also face challenges when reviewers are unfamiliar with the non-European elements of their  work (Bowles, 1992; Jackson, 2003). On the other hand, targeted supports for culturally specific arts  organizations outside of the disciplinary categories may still be valuable. Many culturally specific arts  organizations argue that they are unique and have needs that are different from those of mainstream  organizations (Bowles, 1992; Stern et al., 2010). One evaluation of the Canadian Council for the Arts’  programs for Aboriginal art, for example, reported that there was significant support for dedicated 

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programs for Aboriginal artists and organizations but also that these programs are not well supported by a  discipline based approach (Canadian Council for the Arts, 2015). This debate is ongoing, since the  definition of the arts and culture sector itself is often interwoven with the customary disciplinary  boundaries. 


Support for culturally specific arts organizations and activities can play an important role in strengthening  diversity, cultural equity and inclusion in the arts. Four key areas of support were identified in the  literature:  

Targeting and funding folk art activities  

A life-cycle approach to supporting culturally specific arts organizations  

Fostering partnerships with non-arts organizations  

Meeting the needs of new immigrant and refugee arts communities 


Direct funding for folk artists and informal folk art associations that exist outside the scope of nonprofit  organizations is one approach to supporting their work (Peterson, 1996). Multidisciplinary folk art  organizations in particular can potentially play an important role in finding and documenting folk art  practitioners, especially since most of these organizations have fieldworkers on staff and include  fieldwork in their fundraising appeals. This suggests that organizational support for such organizations is  an effective conduit to folk activities not funded elsewhere. 

State level apprenticeships have been a popular approach to funding folk arts and these may be especially  effective in diversifying the arts and culture sector since a majority of those funded were people of color (Peterson, 1996). This approach can be successful at providing more validation for master artists, leading  to more business and economic security for both master and apprentice. The Alliance for California  Traditional Arts funds apprenticeships with master folk artists in California, as well as grants to nonprofit  and community organizations for California-based community programs in the traditional arts (Alliance  for California Traditional Arts, 2011).  

Funding for gatherings and conferences such as the Fund for Folk Culture’s Conferences and Gatherings  program can help create infrastructure for artisans to identify common needs and strategies. Some art  forms benefit from support for occasional meetings, for instance mariachi conferences and festivals  where students go to workshops and perform were successful at nurturing this art form. Supported by  small NEA and state grants, receiving these funding opportunities helped these organizations to leverage  local and grassroots support for mariachi conferences by offering legitimacy (Peterson, 1996).

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Support for associations of artisans is necessary from multiple sectors, especially when natural resources  are at stake. Cultural tourism offices, highway administration, and land developers are just some of the  examples. This again suggests that capacity building for cross-sector partnerships and advocacy would be  productive. 


A standard nonprofit life-cycle approach to capacity building for nonprofit arts organizations may not  match the actual needs of ethnocultural organizations (Matlon et al., 2014). Some organizations may have  significant maturity in artistic programming while remaining small organizationally, making them look like  “emerging” organizations but making capacity building support for “emerging” organizations  inappropriate. Matlon et al. (2014) propose a life-cycle approach that separates administrative and artistic  development cycles into four groups:  

Startup; Formalization (Administrative)  

Survival-1; Stagnation; Growth; Renewal; Decline (Administrative)  

Artistic Life Cycle – Endings and New Beginnings 

Survival-2; Sustainable (Administrative)  

They evaluated the existing support structure in the US and Canada against the needs articulated by these  organizations and artists. From this analysis, the authors developed a detailed set of recommendations for  funders and arts service organizations to support organizations in the early developmental stages as well  as in the second and fourth categories. All of the recommendations emphasize allowing for flexibility in  the supports for ethnocultural arts organizations, recognizing the wide diversity in these organizations  and their needs, and tailoring supports to organizations’ needs when possible. These recommendations  also highlight the way that ethnocultural organizations have been chronically under-resourced and cannot  be expected to operate similarly to mainstream organizations that have been consistently supported over  long periods of time. They recommend funders and arts service organizations make their own  commitments to cultural equity by dedicating staff time and expertise in order to better support these  organizations. 

For ethnocultural arts organizations at the startup and formalization phases, the recommendations focus  on connecting newly formed organizations to resources through outreach and building online content,  culturally specific capacity building services, and developing and encouraging the growth of locally  focused but nationally networked ethnocultural arts service organizations. 

The majority of the responses from ethnocultural arts organizations in the study were grouped together  in the second category, because the needs of organizations in these middle stages of the life cycle are  similar. The recommendations for supporting this group focused on providing access to multi-year  unrestricted funds, specifically removing features of funding tied to  

minimum operating budgets, paid staff, or amount of annual programming

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matching fund requirements 

multiple and onerous application and reporting processes. 

The report recommends that funders and arts service organizations be open to collaborative  organizational models that provide for administrative and programming resource sharing among small  and mid-size organizations in these middle stages. Arts service organizations, they recommend, should  also move away from institution building support structures and focus on providing resources in the form  of  

expertise (banks of potential board members, services identifying volunteer experts in  management fields, outsourcing organizations for the fundraising and administrative needs of  small organizations) 

tailored fundraising training for targeting the private sector 

access to space 

network of presenters interested in ethnocultural artistic works. 

Finally, for organizations in the last category (Survival-2 and Sustainable), this analysis reiterates the need  for multi-year unrestricted funds and support for collaborative models for resource sharing, but shifts the  focus of support to advocacy and pipelines for staff and leadership. Organizations at this stage need less  of the specific administrative and programming resources and need more leadership in their own  organizations and in the field. This analysis recommends increasing the racial diversity of arts schools and  arts administration programs, internships for emerging artists and arts administrators of color, and  support for emerging and mid-career ethnocultural arts leaders. 


Partnerships with non-arts organizations may be a fruitful strategy for nurturing arts activities in  community organizations that fall outside the nonprofit arts and culture sector. One survey of non-arts  partners drawn from the educational, religious, youth development, human services, and community  development sectors found that these types of organizations helped with the production of programs or  events, by arranging group attendance, by developing programs, and by providing spaces where exhibits  or performances could take place (Walker, 2004). 

For partnerships between arts and non-arts organizations to be successful, the potential risks and costs of  partnership should be anticipated and addressed. Arts organizations should respect the community  processes of the organizations that may require a release of artistic control; non-arts organizations should  respect the standards for quality products and performance that may place demands on participants if  they are to reap the benefits of arts partnerships (Walker, 2004). 

Given that arts activity in communities of color often happens in religious communities (Jackson, 2009;  Stern et al., 2010), research into arts activity in religious communities would appear to be helpful in  developing strategies for nurturing the arts in communities of color. However, the only study to 

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investigate the potential connection between arts and religious communities did not include enough  people of color or from non-Christian religions to produce reliable percentages, other than to note that  African-Americans make up a larger percentage of churchgoers than they do of gallery attendees  (Wuthnow, 2008). The findings on arts activities in white Christian communities are that choral  performance or congregational singing is overwhelming the most frequent arts activity held or sponsored  by a congregation, followed by drama and art festivals or craft fairs (Wuthnow, 2008). This research also  suggests that religious organizations have underused facilities that could be used by the arts and social  networks to promote events. 


Many of the recommendations and analyses of immigrant arts activity focus on the twin needs for  bonding or building community within immigrant groups and bridging to outside or native populations  (Bye, 2004; Lena & Cornfield, 2008). Communities must have ethnic-specific spaces for nurturing identity  as well as spaces that are permeable to outsiders (Jackson, 2009). Another major theme in this literature  is that arts activities happen in multi-service and non-arts sector organizations for immigrant  communities, underscoring the need for funding of arts activities outside of the traditional nonprofit arts  sector (Bye, 2004; Lena & Cornfield, 2008; Stern et al., 2010). Culturally specific arts organizations are also  frequently described as operating more as community centers than strictly arts organizations (Boyles,  1992; Farrell & Fred, 2008). Immigrant hub organizations help artists to connect to both coethnics and  native populations, but these organizations may not be seen as traditional recipients of arts funding (Lena  & Cornfield, 2008). 

Carolyn Bye of the Metropolitan Regional Arts Council (St. Paul, MN) offers additional practical funding  recommendations for working with new immigrant and refugee arts communities (Bye, 2004). Her first  recommendation to eliminate the 501c3 requirement is echoed by other researchers (Lena & Cornfield,  

2008). She also recommends that funders focus on community rather than “art” and trust that the  community knows what art is of value to them. Her other recommendations to funders include  

Commit for the long haul and expect a labor-intensive process, including language issues  Ensure grant panelists are culturally informed in order to properly evaluate new immigrant  communities  

Be flexible about art forms, funding models, and application processes  

Be wary of the extra burden placed on new communities in asking them to serve on review  panels and in other roles 

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The current status of the literature on how to increase diversity, cultural equity and inclusion in the arts  and culture ecology is emerging. Much has been written in recent years that identifies and measures the  problem; solutions – especially ones that are proven to have a measurable impact – are less manifest.  Looking back to previous eras when diversity was raised as a concern in the arts, most recently the mid 1990s, may provide some evidence of what works. However, the concept of “diversity” has evolved into  the terms “cultural equity” and “inclusion,” reflecting the ways in which both the nature of the challenge  and tools to address it have changed over time. As a result, lessons learned from earlier eras should be  investigated before being implemented to determine whether they answer today’s questions.  

That said, the lessons of successful diversity efforts at mainstream American museums have been  summarized by Kamegai-Cocita (1997) in three key processes that can apply to all arts organizations and  are relevant across all four areas identified by the Board of Supervisors. First is communication, which  involves the museum getting to know its surrounding communities as well as inviting local leadership to  get involved in an advisory capacity. Second is collaboration, which may include co-producing programs  with the community to cross-promoting events with local nonprofits and businesses. Third is consistency,  meaning that relationships must be built to be durable and programs designed to be sustainable.  

In the arts, the concept of “audiences” and “programming” have changed over time and today include not  only passive observation of art but also active participation in art-making. There is an increasing  acknowledgement of the role of informal art-making outside of nonprofit structures. These new ways of  looking at the arts and culture ecology suggests new ways of thinking about how to increase cultural  equity and inclusion for boards, staff, audiences and programming. 

Across the four areas analyzed in this literature review, the following key lessons appear to be universal:  

  1. Be explicit about goals for cultural equity and inclusion in all of the organization’s materials,  including its mission statement, job descriptions, board recruitment materials, grant  requirements, casting and programming. If participation and engagement with a particular  community is desired, state explicitly who that community is and how they will be engaged.  
  2. The meaning of diversity, cultural equity and inclusion goes beyond race and ethnicity, and must be defined for each organization. Depending on the context, this may include the homeless, the  incarcerated, the disabled, the poor, veterans, the elderly and the LGBTQ community. It may also  include psychographic traits related to personal opinions, fears and aspirations.  
  3. Partner with organizations serving the communities you wish to serve. This includes both arts  organizations and non-arts organizations, and even non-organizations.  
  4. Define terms, set clear goals and measure progress, then celebrate victories while also  identifying the barriers that are preventing success. Share all of this information publicly, as part of being explicit about what you want to achieve. 

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  1. To achieve full cultural equity and inclusion will take a long time. Plan for the long haul, and be  prepared for hard work.  
  2. Include culturally specific organizations and understand their place in the larger arts and culture  ecology of the region. This includes recognizing their leadership and role in serving the  communities you also wish to serve. 
  3. Your institution may change as a result of all this work. In fact, it must. These changes may  challenge staff, board members, audiences and other stakeholders, so plans will be needed to  manage change. There is a robust body of literature on this from practitioners from both the  nonprofits and business sectors which may be useful. 
  4. One size does not fit all, and this must be considered in board recruitment, hiring, grantmaking and building partnerships. Organizations and artists differ by discipline, size, life cycle placement,  community served, type of programming and mission, and those differences should be  recognized in organizational processes.

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The references are sorted by section. Items that appear in multiple sections of this report appear multiple  times in the references.  


Arts Council England. (2015b) Investing in Diversity 2015-18. Retrieved from  

Bourke, J., Smith, C., Stockton, H. & Wakefield, N. (2014). From diversity to inclusion: Move from  compliance to diversity as a business strategy. In Global Human Capital Trends 2014: Engaging the  21st century workforce. Retrieved from capital/articles/human-capital-trends-2014.html

Cuyler, A. C. (2013, May). Affirmative Action and Diversity: Implications for Arts Management. The Journal  of Arts Management, Law and Society, Vol 43, Issue 2.  

Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council. (2015). Assembling a Diverse Workforce. Retrieved from  

HBO. (2015). HBOAccess Writing Fellowship. Retrieved from  

Jackson, M.R. (2009). Toward Diversity that Works: Building Communities Through Arts and Culture. In G.  Orfield & A. Grant-Thomas, (Eds.) Twenty-First Century Color Lines: Multiracial Change in  Contemporary America (pp. 220-234). Philadelphia: Temple University Press. 

Mulcahy, K.V., & Wyzomirski, M.J. (1995). America’s Commitment to Culture: Government and the Arts.  Boulder, CO: Westview Press. 

Parkinson, A. & Buttrick, J. (2014). Equality and diversity within the arts and cultural sector in England:  Evidence and literature review final report. London: Arts Council England.  

Price, C.A. (1994). Many Voices, Many Opportunities: Cultural Pluralism & American Arts Policy. Americans  for the Arts. 

Smith, C. (2013, August 5). A Review of the Literature: Diversity Initiatives in Arts and Culture Nonprofit  Organizations. (2013). Retrieved from

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Theatre Communications Group. (n.d.a.). Vision and Values. Retrieved from  

Third Sector New England. (2010). A Guide to Achieving Diversity and Inclusion in the Workplace.  Retrieved from rce3-18-2015.pdf.  


Axelrod, N. R. (2007). Culture of inquiry: Healthy debate in the boardroom. Washington, DC: BoardSource. African American Board Leadership Institute. (2016). About. Retrieved from  

Atlanta Women’s Foundation. (2016). Women on Board. Retrieved from  

BoardSource. (2011). Diversity in Action. Washington, DC: BoardSource. 

BoardSource. (2012). The nonprofit board answer book: A practical guide for board members and chief  executives. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. 

Bowles, E. (1992). Cultural Centers of Color: Report on a National Survey. Washington, DC: National  Endowment for the Arts. 

Bradshaw, P., & Fredette, C. (2013, December 1). Determinants of the Range of Ethnocultural Diversity on  Nonprofit Boards: A Study of Large Canadian Nonprofit Organizations. Nonprofit and Voluntary  Sector Quarterly, 42 (6), 1111-1133. 

Buse, K., Bernstein, R. S., & Bilimoria, D. (2014, September 11). The Influence of Board Diversity, Board  Diversity Policies and Practices, and Board Inclusion Behaviors on Nonprofit Governance  Practices. Journal of Business Ethics, 133(1), 179-191. 

Cole, J.B. (2015, June 10). Johnnetta Cole: Museums, Diversity, and Social Value. Retrieved from  

Daley, J. (2002, January 01). An Action Guide for Nonprofit Board Diversity. Journal of Community  Practice, 10 (1), 33-54. 

DeVos Institute of Arts Management. (2015). Diversity in the Arts: The Past, Present, and Future of African  American and Latino Museums, Dance Companies, and Theater Companies. Washington, DC: 

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DeVos Institute of Arts Management. Retrieved from 

Farrell, B. & Fred, M. (2008). Diversifying the Arts: Bringing in Race and Ethnic Perspectives. In D. Grams &  B. Farrell (Eds.), Entering cultural communities: Diversity and change in the nonprofit arts (143- 170). New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press. 

Fredette, C., Bradshaw, P., & Krause, H. (2015, August). From Diversity to Inclusion: A Multimethod Study  of Diverse Governing Groups. Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly, 45 (1), 1-24. 

Grantmakers in the Arts (2015). Racial Equity in Arts Philanthropy: Statement of Purpose. Retrieved 9  December 2015 from

Kaiser, M. M. (2010). Leading Roles: 50 Questions Every Arts Board Should Ask. Waltham, MA: Brandeis  University Press.  

Love, J. (2015, March 01). Expert: Limit executive committees, board terms to ensure diverse, engaged  board. Nonprofit Business Advisor, 2015 (306), 6. 

Masaoka, J. (2016). Recruiting for Board Diversity: Part 3 in Diversity Series. Blue Avocado: A Magazine of  American NonProfits. Retrieved from part-3-diversity-series 

Matlon, M. P., Van Haastrecht, I., & Mengüç, K.W. (2014). Figuring the Plural: Needs and Supports of  Canadian and US Ethnocultural Arts Organizations. Chicago, IL: School of the Art Institute of  Chicago/Art Institute of Chicago. 

Ostrower, F. (2008) Boards of Midsize Nonprofits: Their Needs and Challenges. Washington, DC: Urban  Institute. 

Ostrower, F. (2013) Diversity on Cultural Boards: Implications for Organizational Value and Impact.  (Working Paper). Retrieved from UTX-Austin.pdf.  

Stern, M. J., Seifert, S. C., & Vitiello, D. (2010). Migrants and the Transformation of Philadelphia’s CulturaEconomy. In P. DiMaggio & M.P. Fernández-Kelly (Eds.), Art in the lives of immigrant communities  in the United States (23-51). New Brunswick, N.J: Rutgers University Press.  

Voss, Z. G., Voss, G., Louie, A., Drew, Z., & Teyolia, M.R. (2016). Does “Strong and Effective” Look Different  for Culturally Specific Arts Organizations? Dallas, TX: National Center for Arts Research. Retrieved  from  

Walker, V. L. & Davidson, D. J. (2010). Vital Voices: Lessons Learned from Board Members of Color.  Washington, DC: BoardSource.

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Woodwell, Jr., W.H. (2014). Real World Insights from the Haas Leadership Initiative: Board Development.  San Francisco, CA: Evelyn & Walt Haas, Jr. Fund. 


Americans for the Arts. (2015). Diversity in Arts Leadership Internship Program. Retrieved from council-of-new-york/diversity-in-arts-leadership-internship-program.  

Arts Council England. (n.d.a.) Developing resilient leadership commissioned grant. Retrieved from leadership-commissioned-grant.  

Arts Council England. (n.d.b.) New strategic investment in diversity and the Creative Case. Retrieved from case/new-strategic-investment.  

Arts Council England. (2014, March). National Portfolio Organisations and Major Partner Museums: Key  data from the 2012/13 annual submission. Retrieved from  

Arts Council England. (2015a). Creative Case for Diversity | Arts Council. Retrieved from case/creative-case-diversity.  

Arts Council England. (2015b) Investing in Diversity 2015-18. Retrieved from  

Association of Fundraising Professionals. (n.d.). Diversity in Fundraising. Retrieved from  

Association of Fundraising Professionals. (2013). 2013 Diversity and Inclusion Summit. Retrieved from  

Bailey, L. (2015, October 29). Inner City Cultural Center Celebrating 50th Anniversary; Honors Founder C.  Bernard Jackson. Electronic Urban Report. Retrieved from city-cultural-center-celebrating-50th-anniversary-honors-founder-c-bernard 


Bain, T. & Barnett, B. (2016, January 15). Insights into Nonprofit Compensation and Diversity. Guidestar  Blog. Retrieved from

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Bourke, J., Smith, C., Stockton, H. & Wakefield, N. (2014). From diversity to inclusion: Move from  compliance to diversity as a business strategy. In Global Human Capital Trends 2014: Engaging the  21st century workforce. Retrieved from capital/articles/human-capital-trends-2014.html

Brooklyn Workforce Innovations. (n.d.) Production Assistant Training Program. Retrieved from  

Burns, S. (2009). The Organisation of the Dance Field in England. International Association of Arts and  Cultural Management. Retrieved from 

California Department of Education. (n.d.). Arts, Media and Entertainment: California career technical  education model curriculum standards. Retrieved from  

Catterall, J.S., Dumais, S.A. & Hampden-Thompson, G. (2012, March). The Arts and Achievement in At-Risk  Youth: Findings from Four Longitudinal Studies. Retrieved from  

Creative and Cultural Skills. (2009, November). The Visual Arts Blueprint: A workforce development plan  for the visual arts in the UK. Retrieved from  Visual Arts Blueprint.pdf.  

Creative and Cultural Skills. (n.d.). Creative Employment Programme. Retrieved from creative-employment-programme. (n.d.) Chicago’s Artist Workforce. Retrieved from workforce 

Cuyler, A. C. (2013, May). Affirmative Action and Diversity: Implications for Arts Management. The Journal  of Arts Management, Law and Society, Vol 43, Issue 2.  

Cuyler, A.C. (2015, Fall). An Exploratory Study of Demographic Diversity in the Arts Management  Workforce. GIA Reader. Retrieved from demographic-diversity-arts-management-workforce.  

Dang, T. (2015). 51% Preparedness Plan for the American Theatre. Retrieved from Plan_a.pdf

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Davies, M. (2007). The Tomorrow People: Entry to the museum workforce. Retrieved from  

Davies, M. & Shaw, L. (2012). Diversify destination research: The impact of the Diversify scheme on  participants’ careers 1998-2011. Retrieved from  

Department for Professional Employees, AFL-CIO. (2014). Professional Performers – DPEAFLCIODPEAFLCIO. Retrieved from workplace/professional-performers.,. (2014, December 15). News: ‘It’s our job’ ACE announcement on diversity |  Diversity in Heritage Group. Retrieved from announcement-on-diversity.  

Eichinger, C.E. (2007). Racial, Ethnic and Gender Diversity of the U.S. Museum Workforce: Trends,  Implications and Solutions: Thesis. Retrieved from ProQuest Digital Dissertations. (AAT 304867216) 

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Cultural Equity and Inclusion Initiative 77 Literature Review 


Hilda L. Solis 

Mark Ridley-Thomas Sheila Kuehl 

Don Knabe 

Michael D. Antonovich 


Claire Peeps 


Bettina Korek 

Vice President 

Pamela Bright-Moon Secretary 

Betty Haagen 

Executive Committee 

Helen Hernandez 

Executive Committee 

Eric Hanks 

Constance Jolcuvar 

Peter Lesnik 

Claudia Margolis 

Kathryn McDonnell 

Alis Clausen Odenthal Norma Provencio Pichardo David Valdez 

Hope Warschaw 

Rosalind Wyman 

Laura Zucker  

Executive Director

Cultural Equity and Inclusion Initiative 78 Literature Review