Nashville’s Office of Arts & Culture (Metro Arts) believes ALL Nashvillians should be able to participate in a creative life; and that the arts drive a vibrant and equitable community.
The mission, programs and policies of Metro Arts have been leading the agency toward equity work for a long time. Since 2014, the move to examine agency policy and practices and center equity in our work has been more intentionally emphasized and accelerated by the adoption of a strategic plan and theory of change that articulated a new mission “To drive a vibrant and equitable community through the arts.” Our Board of Commissioners have also adopted our cultural equity statement that articulates our agency’s values around equity and we have a stated commitment to becoming an antiracist organization.
Cultural equity embodies the values, beliefs, policies and practices that ensure that all people can fulfill their rights of cultural expression and belonging, participation, learning, and livelihood within the arts ecosystem. This includes specific commitment to people who have been historically underrepresented in mainstream arts funding, discourse, leadership and resource allocation; including, but not limited to, people of color, people of all ages, differently abled people, LGBTQ people, women, and the socio-economically disadvantaged.
Metro Arts believes:
- The ability to express, celebrate and champion cultural tradition and heritage is elemental to honest civic discourse and the well-being of democratic society.• Artists and cultural creators have a unique role in challenging inequity and imagining new and more just realities.
- The health of the future cultural ecosystem is contingent on dynamic inclusionary practices that move towards cultural plurality.Metro Arts acknowledges:• Inequity is pervasive and historic. Disparities and discrimination are daily occurrences that are rooted in long-standing majority privilege and power inside and outside of the cultural arts.
- Inequity occurs within systems at all levels within the cultural/creative ecosystem.
- Equity moves past inclusion and representation; accepting that power has created uneven starting points for some communities and individuals. Simple diverse representation does not dismantle the unequal nature of voice, resource allocation and visibility that exist in the arts and cultural ecosystem.
- We hold ourselves accountable by acknowledging that equity does not currently exist in the arts.
- We commit to exposing and unraveling it through our own leadership, practices and policies.
- We commit to holding up examples and practices that facilitate equity and those artists and creators who are equity champions.
Specifically Metro Arts will:
- Commit to frequent and on-going, agency-wide honest conversations about race, class, age, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, age and income status.
- Pursue formal and regular cultural competence training and discussions with staff, board, and volunteers.
- Expand leadership and employment positions wherever possible with under-invested and under-represented communities.
- Continually review and edit our grant and public art practices and policies to ensure that more under-invested and under-represented communities can compete equitably for artist commissions, grants and other financial investments. This will be ongoing with a view towards transformation of our programs and larger community systems.
- Encourage the broader development of policies and practices that drive equity in Nashville.
We have chosen to center racial equity in our practice because across all other indicators and outcomes racialization is at play. Focusing on racial equity provides the opportunity to introduce solutions that can also be applied to other areas of marginalization.Simply put, systems that are failing communities of color, are failing all of us.