Diversity is the new Black! Everyone lately seems to be having conversations about Diversity, Inclusion, and/or Equality vs. Equity. Heated discussions have been in the news on these topics and have been more often than I would like on issues in the film industry (the Oscars), the alarming number of unarmed African-Americans killed by the police, deportation of “illegal immigrants,” and a disturbing number of hate crimes occurring in our communities (particularly in neighborhoods that tend to have a dominant group of people).
I personally feel that no matter who you are, we all can find ourselves in a “minority” group depending on our age, race, gender, ethnicity, income, religion, disability, and sexuality at at least one time or another in our lives. Throughout U.S history, there have been a number of movements fighting for equal rights. Today in 2016, I do believe progress has been made, but there is still work to be done.
The New York City Department of Cultural Affairs (DCLA), launched a diversity initiative with the goal in mind to create a diverse and equitable cultural workforce in NYC. This was inspired by Mayor Bill de Blasio’s vision of a more inclusive and equitable city. As part of this effort, DCLA with support from the Ford Foundation, Mertz Gilmore Foundation, and the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, worked with research firm, Ithaka S+R, to collect demographic data on race/ethnicity, gender, disability, age, job type, and level of seniority from nearly 1,000 arts and cultural organizations.
The results show that the workforce in our cultural sector, is not as diverse as the City of New York- which is consistent with national trends. Here are some key statistics I wanted to share:
67% of New Yorkers identify themselves as non-white while, 39% of NYC nonprofit cultural workers identify as non-white.
The number of diverse workers declines as the level of seniority increases.
The number of women in the NYC nonprofit arts sector tends to be evenly split across the board.
The number of workers who identify as having a disability according to this report was so insignificant that no data was provided.
From this report, DCLA is rolling out a number of new programs and initiatives being implemented:
The NYC Department of of City Planning’s Theater Subdistrict Council is looking to provide $2 million in grants to support the development and training of theater professionals, with a preference on programs that look to encourage participation from groups that are underrepresented in the field.
DCLA will also look to commit $1 million for the Cultural Institution Group (CIG) to fund and support proposals diversity initiatives in and for the cultural sector.
DCLA is wanting to partner up with City University of New York to build new programs to create internship and employment opportunities at cultural organization and develop diverse leaders in the field.
The city wants to hear your thought, opinions, feedback, and any recommendations you may have. Make your voices known! Please click here, and complete the form.
To learn more about this report, please check out this link here!
For a closer look at the survey results, check out this link!
This is a topic that is very near and dear to my heart. My family has a history of breaking down barriers and opening up doors, particularly for those who look like us. No, we are not in the history books, but I am proud of our many accomplishments. We have done things that was historic for its time when not many people like us was able to such as own property in the 1800s, getting a college education in the 1940s, working in industries such as television in the 1970s, climbing up the ladder in Corporate America is the 1990s and early 2000s, to having recognition for these accomplishments today. I personally am involved in some diversity initiatives such as the Diversity & Inclusion think tank for the Dance/NYC Junior Committee, and the Young Professionals National Urban League movement.
When it comes to diversity in the arts, I feel the cultural sector often lags behind. It is 2016, and we are just having a number of first achievements and things that have never been done before, particularly in dance (ie. Misty Copeland, Brooklyn Mack, Amar Ramasar, Michaela DePrince, Dance Theatre of Harlem’s Let’s Dance Together program, and the International Blacks in Dance Annual Ballet Audition for Women of Color).
I am curious to hear what you think of the survey results, the new initiatives to come from this report, and whether or not this will be successful or just a waste of time, money, and resources.