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Embracing Arlington Arts Releases Second Segment Of DIVERSITY AND CULTURAL EQUITY Podcast Series

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"We are so thankful to these EDI voices and their practical insight and thoughtful responses to the BIPOC demands," they shared.

Embracing Arlington Arts Releases Second Segment Of DIVERSITY AND CULTURAL EQUITY Podcast Series

Embracing Arlington Arts is airing the second segment of its "Diversity and Cultural Equity" as part of the organization's Theater/Arts Management Education Series. "We are even more excited to release this segment which features EDI experts, consultants and theater specialists that offer specific insight, action items and best practices tools to help theaters start their cultural equity journey," Janet Kopenhaver, President of Embracing Arlington Arts explained. "There is so much advice packed into these three interviews that listeners will want to hear them several times to process all the valuable information," she added. (Click here to listen to, and get summaries and more information about these interviews.)

Last week Embracing Arlington Arts aired interviews with five leading BIPOC voices for the theater industry who were asked their thoughts on the most important changes needed in the arts industry to make it more equitable on stage, in the boardrooms and in the audience (link to Press Release). In this second segment, our Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) guests directly respond to those demands. These guests are Lisa Richards Toney, President of the Association of Performing Arts Professionals; Dr. Monica Almond, President of The Almond Group; and Ouida Maedel, Theater Specialist for the National Endowment for the Arts.

"We are so thankful to these EDI voices and their practical insight and thoughtful responses to the BIPOC demands," Kopenhaver asserted. "This expertise should prove invaluable to non-profit theaters beginning work on improving equity and diversity in their organizations."

Among some of the pieces of advice and insight:

a-? Equity and diversity change is a long-term commitment. "One off" training, token representation on a Board, and impersonal involvement by leaders will not lead to better equity and diversity improvements.

a-? Non-profit theater organizations first and foremost need to represent and serve the community in which they are located. That is why non-profits were formed. Power sharing among theater leaders, the Board and community leaders should be equitable.

a-? Not only should several people of color be invited to the table, but they also must be listened to, called on for their opinions, have an equal voice and be part of the organization's decisions.

a-? The arts industry needs to offer fair and more generous benefits to its staffs and artists in order to keep up with other industries. Several measurable actions can be taken to achieve this including paid internships, better family life benefits, changes to rehearsal schedules, and transparency in terms of pay and hiring.

a-? Training is essential, but care needs to be taken about how this training is conducted. Shaming and blaming does not work, nor does "one size fits all" training and sporadic sessions.

a-? Boards need to be diversified, and this can be done by going outside normal circles, designating spots on the Board for certain demographic groups and community leaders, elimination of "give or get" requirements, and reaching out to BIPOC community leaders for help. Also, organizations need to review their mission statements to ensure that BIPOC persons would want to serve on a Board with their stated goals.

Although each EDI guests made many insightful statements, here are memorable ones from each:

Ouida Maedel: There is no better time than now for strategic planning, radical collaboration and bold visioning for the future of the industry.

Lisa Richards Toney: White American Theater leaders - if you don't hear someone speaking up, ask them their views. Don't just listen to the usual suspects.

Dr. Monica Almond: Tokenism does not move the needle at all.

Embracing Arlington Arts also wants to thank our BIPOC guests for appearing in this series: Raymond Caldwell, Artistic Director, Theater Alliance; Natalie Graves Tucker, Founder, Blackstage DC; Chil Kong, Artistic Director, Adventure Theatre; Elena Velasco, Co-Founder, Convergence Theater; and Deb Sivigny, Scenic and Costume Designer.

This series, and all future ones, can be heard on several podcast platforms: Libsyn, ApplePodcast, Google Podcast, and Spotify.

Embracing Arlington Arts is a non-profit organization whose mission is to enhance the vibrancy and health of arts and culture. Interested supporters are encouraged to "follow" and "like" us on Facebook; and follow us on Twitter.

For more information, contact Janet Kopenhaver at janetk@embracing-arlington-arts.org.


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