An anti-racist arts and culture sector is both possible and necessary.
Like other institutions across this country, Chicago’s arts and culture sector is upholding white supremacy and other systems of oppression. There are stark disparities in funding, leadership, access, and representation, especially across racial and ethnic lines. These inequities hurt us all, and keep us from realizing our fullest potential.
We are at a critical turning point in our society in which we must break free from the frames of racism and oppression. We have the lived experiences, the skills, the resources, the love and the joy that we need to achieve radical transformation and create sustainable environments of equity and justice. We must tap into our collective wisdom and imagination to shape an anti-racist future — a future where Chicago’s arts and culture sector not only survives, but thrives.
We will :
Center ALAANA/BIPOC voices
It is essential that this vision, and the process by which it is shaped, centers the voices of those most impacted by structural inequities. These are the leaders of yesterday, today and tomorrow who actively practice radical imagination, despite the fact that they are systematically excluded from conversations about our sector’s future.
Create space for collective creativity
We aim to convene artists, cultural practitioners, administrators, educators, students, community-based organizations, funders, and supporters of the arts to share stories and ideas for transformational change. We will lean into our inherent creativity to spark new connections that can help us move towards liberation.
Share ownership and accountability
This vision will be held in shared ownership with a community of practice and a community of support. This will support mutual accountability to both activate and actualize the vision with concrete changes in the short term, and collective impact over time.
The resulting vision will serve as the foundation to cultivate a community of practice. Our ultimate goal will be to hold Chicago’s arts and culture sector accountable to realize the vision and the promise of art itself — to heal, to connect, and to self-actualize.
Our work began in earnest in February 2021. The timeline below outlines where we have been and where are planning to go. More dates will be released throughout the course of the project.
Research and Groundwork
We began our work by exploring and analyzing the landscape of relevant work to date at the intersection of anti-racism and the arts, both in Chicago and around the country. This learning helped us to build our team of ambassadors, artists, and advisors, and will inform our tools, materials, and outreach for community co-creation.
During this 8-week period, we will host and facilitate a series of group-based workshops for Chicago’s arts and culture community to come together, share stories, and imagine ideas for an anti-racist future. We will also invite the community to contribute their own ideas through our website, and provide tools for hosting your own co-creation workshop with people in your community.
Synthesis and Share-out
We will look across all of the ideas and organize them into a living vision with actionable strategies and collective outcomes to be shared back to the community. This vision will be shared publicly via the website and through a series of community showcases (dates TBD) to build momentum and commitment towards a Community of Practice.
Community of Practice
The resulting vision will be held in community trust and will serve as the foundation to cultivate a community of practice that can activate and hold Chicago’s arts and culture sector accountable to realize this vision through to action.