Haven’t read this yet, but my old boss is right at the center of it. He’s a good man.
Hopefully we can start a conversation in the comments. I’ll be back with more after I check it out.
EDIT: Well, I’m reading it and responding before this thing is even posted. I like the way that works out. Here’s the gist of the article, for those too lazy to click:
…you do not have to look at major US art museums for long to realise that most of the senior management is white, unlike staff at comparable levels in corporations, universities and government offices. When is this going to change? Those leading efforts to diversify museums say the economic reality of who pays to support institutions has not evolved sufficiently to require any lasting push for change. But American demographics are shifting swiftly. US minority groups will become the majority in a few decades. And art museums will have to diversify to survive.
And whoa…here’s the money line, from Dr. Johnetta Cole:
“You cannot compete well in a highly diverse, global market if your workforce represents only a thin slice of those who live in the world.”
People. That’s what we’ve been trying to say. And I’m going to speak to the theaters right now, and I’m going to speak in real clear terms (although maybe not even as clear as I’d like to be): your continued insistence on programming plays by, for, and about the same old people with the same old money is rendering you UNABLE TO COMPETE. You will be left behind.
And there’s this from Dr. Lehman, my old boss himself:
Lehman also urges a sustained, pro-active effort in exhibitions, which a diverse staff can help develop. But exhibitions should not be presented to attract diverse audiences “only every few years. The notion, for instance, of presenting African-American programming only in February, which is Black History Month, is ridiculous, and perhaps even counterproductive.”
Slot system, people. And here’s the thing: the fact that this stuff even needs to be articulated goes to show why you MUST have people of color (and women, and GLBT folks, and so on…) on your artistic staff — because it’s stuff that you all aren’t even thinking about without us.
I mean, listen. I once had an artistic director tell me that “the only way I can do two black shows in a season is if one is a musical and one is August Wilson.” That’s a direct quote. And that was in a city with as many African-American residents as white ones. If that’s your attitude, than not only will you not be able to reach that community…you shouldn’t be reaching that community. You shouldn’t have access to them and their money.
I’m stopping now, because this got me all worked up.
And because I’m getting eaten by mosquitoes.