This week, it is on my heart to talk about the inequity I personally encountered in the arts.
I love the fact that there is now an awareness of the lack of diversity in the dance field. This week, I attended two performances by two very well known dance companies. While I was at both shows, I was pleasantly surprised by the diversity both on the stage and in the audience. And I personally have gone to see these two companies perform many times before, but level of diversity in the room was something I probably would not have seen even five years ago.
However, as much as I love the fact the dance field is starting to become more diverse, there are just some moments when I feel some people are not with the program.
A few months ago, I was speaking with a colleague, who told me about a great mentorship program she completed and thought I should apply for the next year. I did some research about the organization, thought it all sounded great and was considering to submit an application for the program. I then decided to sign up to their email list to keep informed about the mentorship program as well as other events.
Two weeks ago, I got an email that the portal for applications was open and I was very excited. I downloaded the guidelines and forms to later come across some confusion on the qualifications. In one place it had one set of guidelines and in another place a different set of guidelines were listed. I emailed the contact that was named on the website and was very disappointed at the answers I received.
In order to apply into the program, your employer must have an active membership with them, which it is my understanding to be a very expensive membership fee. Being that I work for a small nonprofit, they cannot afford to be a member. The benefits just don’t outweigh the cost to make it worth it. An individual membership is available but is only if your employer is also a member.
For me, I thought this was ridiculous! I am a member of a few professional organizations and I have never seen or heard of such requirements. Why should my membership be contingent on my employer? Also, I found the individual membership fee to be quite high as well. I probably couldn’t afford to do it anyway.
I was told that benefits of program are reserved exclusively for their members, but with these high fees and many restrictions on their qualifications, I thought to myself, “Wow, what’s with the inequity?”
To me, it sends out a message that not all people are welcome to be a member of this organization. I think it’s unfortunate. Although I’m sure it’s not done with the intention to keep people of color out, they are. I looked at photos on their website and saw very little diversity and felt “Well with these exclusive requirements, they will never be diverse.
I was very upset and frustrated. I thought we were all making progress here, but I guess not everyone realizes that making your membership exclusive will attract the same people and leave out the same people.
Have you ever experienced a similar situation where you were unable to participate because exclusive requirements as part of the qualifications? Please comment below! I would love to hear about it!