Cultural Equity Statement
To truly achieve ASC’s vision of “Culture for All,” all Charlotte-Mecklenburg residents must have equitable opportunity to participate in the cultural life of our region as audiences, volunteers, artists, administrators, board members and donors.
- Systemic, inequitable access to opportunity has led to generations of unjust outcomes for those who have been historically marginalized in mainstream arts and cultural funding, discourse, leadership and resource allocation.
- Inequity – based on, but not limited to, race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, geography, educational status, ability, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, age, religion, immigrant status, language, family structure and physical appearance – must be continually addressed and changed.
- Cultural equity is critical to the long-term viability of the arts and cultural sector.
- Despite the efforts of many people who have focused on equity in various forms for decades, Charlotte-Mecklenburg has significant work to do in this area.
- Everyone has cultural traditions that are inherently valuable.
- Artists, scientists and historians play a unique role in challenging inequities and inspiring human understanding, justice and opportunity for all.
- Cultural equity embodies the values, beliefs, policies and practices that ensure all people are represented in the:
- Development of arts, science, history and heritage policy;
- Support of artists and cultural creators;
- Nurturing of accessible, relevant and innovative venues for expression; and,
- Just distribution of programmatic, financial and informational resources.
- Champion policies and practices that empower an inclusive and equitable community to support the role of all arts, science and history providers in achieving cultural equity.
- Embed a commitment to cultural equity in all ASC investments, governance and administrative policies and practices.
- Invest in cultural competency training for staff, board, volunteers and other key stakeholders.
- Expand the diversity of leadership within our board, staff, volunteers and advisory bodies.
- Review and edit our grant, education and public art practices and policies to ensure that more underinvested and underrepresented communities can compete equitably for artist commissions, grants and other financial investments, and that resources are distributed in a way that aligns with the realities of Charlotte-Mecklenburg’s diverse population.
- Commit to continual agency-wide honest reflection, dialogue and evaluation about diversity, inclusion and equity that leads to organizational change and report annually on our progress.
ASC Cultural Equity Statement Background & Process
ASC’s Community Investment Committee, composed of (7) ASC Board members and (5) non-members who are broadly representative of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Community, drafted the initial Cultural Equity Statement for ASC in FY19 with the goals of crafting a working definition of cultural equity to guide the future work of ASC, creating a framework to set organizational policies and practices and providing external visibility for the organization’s commitment to cultural equity.
The Equity Statement was approved by the ASC Board on June 19, 2019.
Cultural Equity Report
Systemic, inequitable access to opportunity has led to generations of unjust outcomes in Charlotte-Mecklenburg for those historically excluded from mainstream arts and cultural funding, discourse, leadership and resource allocation – particularly Black residents, Black-led organizations and residents and organizations of color. ASC has been complicit in upholding funding practices that elevate certain cultures, creative traditions, identities and art forms above others. This is unacceptable and can no longer remain the case.
Our intent is that this report honestly reflects the steps – and missteps – we have taken on our path to becoming an organization where our commitment to equity is reflected in everything we do, from our investments in the cultural community to the make-up of our staff and board. This analysis will direct ASC’s cultural equity journey in the coming year and guide decision-making in all aspects of our work, while also providing a framework for measuring our progress year-over-year and holding ourselves accountable to the community.
It is our hope that our voice and actions relative to diversity, equity, inclusion and access will encourage others – both in our sector and in the broader community – to begin and/or continue dismantling oppressive systems in pursuit of a more just, inclusive Charlotte-Mecklenburg for all. Working for a more equitable cultural community is not only the right thing to do – it is critical to ensuring that Charlotte-Mecklenburg is a place where our full cultural and creative ecosystem can thrive.
We realize that we will make mistakes on this journey and ask that YOU – our community – hold us accountable along the way.
Beyond the Sound Bites
Virtual Community Listening Sessions
ASC hosted Beyond the Sound Bites with the goal of sharing ASC’s equity journey, listen to residents’ feedback and incorporate that learning into ASC’s work. Below is the recording of the session hosted by Dr. Tom Hanchett, historian, History South and Janeen Bryant, director of operations, Center for Racial Equity and Education.