Rebuild, Reconcile, Reimagine:
A List of Demands for Centering Black Women’s Leadership in Arts Education

The NYC Arts in Education Roundtable wishes to extend a special thanks to the following people for their extensive work and authorship of this list of demands: Brittany Applewhite, Asari Beale, Judith Insell, David King, Jorjina Amefia-Koffi, Toya Lillard, Heather McCartney, Gary Padmore, Josephine Winfrey, PHR, SHRM-CP, and Kendra S. Williams.

CALL TO ACTION: Complete the form below to add your name to show your support for "Rebuild. Reconcile. Reimagine. Centering Black Women: List of Demands".

REBUILD, RECONCILE, REIMAGINE — TESTIMONIALS

Traci Lester

Executive Director, National Dance Institute

Toya Lillard

Executive Director, viBe Theater Experience

Rachel Watts

Executive Director, ArtsConnection

Rachel Kara Pérez

Artist & Educator

Monique Letamendi

Artistic Director, viBe Theater Experience

Funmilayo Chesney

Artistic Director, Fusha Dance Company

Video Credit: Ezekiel Clare (IG: @ghostnostalgia) & Chance Johnson (@folkdrawn)

We invite you to share your story here, which will be amplified and made part of the campaign to Rebuild, Reconcile, and Reimagine, and to address the inequities experienced by Black women in the arts and culture field.

 

Backround

This initiative is informed by letters released by We Are A.R.T./New York and We See You WAT, and Building Movement Project’s seminal research reports Race to Lead: Obstacles and Opportunities in Addressing the Nonprofit Racial Leadership Gap (2016) and Race to Lead Revisited (2019)all of which address multiple inequities in the arts.

Why Black Women?

Black women have shouldered and performed inordinate amounts of labor–emotional and otherwise–in service to the arts education field in New York City. Despite 10+ years of rhetorical dedication to equity, diversity, and inclusion at large, Black women have been shut out of leadership positions (Race to Lead), and excluded from power shifts (Nonprofit Quarterly) that have occurred within the cultural sector. Under the umbrella term “BIPOC” (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color), Black women are too often left “holding the handle” and kept in positions that require them to labor on behalf of others. In addition, there is a perceived “Black ceiling” that exists for Black women seeking Leadership roles. 

Data provided by The Fed and the Brookings Institution demonstrates underrepresentation of Black people in leadership positions in the arts, and underrepresentation of women within senior leadership, when compared to the percentage of women working in arts and culture. In addition, data consistently shows pay disparities among both women and Black people in comparison to white male counterparts. Black women, at the intersection of both of these groups, earn less and receive fewer opportunities for advancement. Black women live and work at the intersection of the Racial Wealth Gap (Brookings), and the Gender Pay Gap (AAUW). 

Since the COVID-19 pandemic, which overwhelmingly affected Black communities, PPP Loans were taken out by many nonprofits under the guise of keeping Black and POC workers employed, only to lay off those workers first (NPQ)compromising lowest paid staff in order to save executive paywhen the PPP loans ran out. 

Most recently, it has been widely reported that “women” accounted for 100% of job losses in December 2020; however, when fact-checked, it was revealed that Black women carried the brunt of job losses (PolitiFact), and white women actually made gains during that time. For these reasons, our list of demands intentionally centers around Black women.

Specifically, we ask organizations: 

How are you supporting and cultivating the leadership of Black women?

 

Who We Are

We are a coalition of Black cultural workers, arts educators and administrators called together through Affinity Groups held by The New York City Arts in Education Roundtable that all know, support, and advocate for Black women teaching artists, administrators and executives in this field. 

We demand that there be more intentionality behind power and cultural shifts in the arts, and that cultural organizations rethink their infrastructure, mission, and core values, and the degree to which they center and support Black women’s leadership. 

We insist that predominantly white-led cultural institutions (PWIs) and mid-to larger-sized cultural institutions that may be BIPOC-led invest in Black women: their expertise, their cultural and intellectual capital, and improvements to their quality of life. Investments should include, but not be limited to, recruitment, fair compensation, mental health care, mentorship, career advancement, professional development, and equal opportunities.

 

Yes, We’re Talking to You

The list is directed to funders and senior leadership at PWI arts education and cultural institutions. It also applies to mid- to larger-sized cultural institutions that are BIPOC-led. The list was created in recognition of and in response to the shared lived experiences of people participating in the NYCAIE Roundtable Black Affinity Group.

In order to address the inequities experienced by Black women, institutions need to put their money behind their stated intentions. Budgets must be reflective of the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion arts organizations say they care about.

We demand the subsequent actions in order to not replicate harm.

 


 

Demands

These demands are based on the following key points explicitly and unapologetically meant to set up Black women to flourish in leadership and vision:

  • Pay equity
  • Promotion/Advancement
  • Healing 
  • Hiring, investing in, and trusting Black women
  • Including budget lines for every item on this list

Arts education and cultural organizations dedicated to uplifting Black women must:

  • Create dedicated budget lines for hiring Black women in leadership positions. 
    • Ensure equity in pay, especially taking into consideration the emotional labor that Black women undertake and the unique cultural capital they bring to an organization.
    • Offer compensation packages that really benefit Black women, including wellness/mental health, coverage for children, retirement plans, severance packages. Create a true-cost budget (Propel Nonprofits), reflective of the “true cost” of providing a living wage, full benefits, compensation policies, and employee incentives that many nonprofits overlook.
    • Create a blueprint/policies that support mentorship, coaching, self-care, and hold space for self-advocacy around issues like promotion, salary increase, and other investment in advancement.
    • Advocate for living wages for folks in entry level and mid-career positions. 
    • Encourage policies that limit exorbitant pay gaps.
    • Address lack of pension for elders.
      • Provide post-career/retirement resources: counseling, incentives to save, matching in 401(3)b, etc.
  • Ensure opportunities for promotion/advancement.
    • Fund executive coaching/mentorship, whether by someone within the organization or by an external consultant. For Black women hired into leadership positions, ensure that they have the support needed to avoid the “Glass Cliff” (The Today Show). 
      • Make salary negotiations easier via policies (e.g. annual cost-of-living increase).
      • Build in interview and compensation negotiation coaching.
      • Remove the degree requirement from all job postings.
    • Fund ongoing professional development, including for Black women interested in pursuing executive careers.
  • Recruit Black women as teaching artists and for executive leadership and board positions. 
    • Develop a plan for intentionally recruiting Black women to all levels, including staff leadership and board positions.
    • Create training opportunities for Black women pursuing careers as teaching artists, senior executives, and board members.
    • Recruit where Black women are.
      • Include and engage working class Black women on your boards.
      • Hire more Black women to do curriculum development, and compensate them for this specialized work.
    • Create a community-based, executive position dedicated to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, including cultural competency, to be held by a Black/Brown person.
  • Prioritize healing.
    • Fund retreat opportunities for Black women, restorative time to heal themselves beyond PTO.
      • Sponsor/support retreats for Black women, such as the one being coordinated through the NYC Arts in Education Roundtable.
    • Allocate funds toward mental health needs beyond the Retreat: Most therapists, especially Black therapists, are “out-of-network” and not covered by health insurance plans.
    • Compensate employees beyond their salary (e.g. as consultants) for their emotional labor: For example, when employees are asked to lead conversations on race, to write DEI policies or messages on behalf of the organization, or weigh in on hiring decisions related to race.

 

Accountability

  • Organizations should center Black women when self-assessing or being assessed by a third party. They may use this list of demands in self-assessment.
  • We recommend that The NYC Arts in Education Roundtable partner with a public policy organization to conduct in-depth research and track data among its constituents so that we can establish a baseline and track progress toward the objectives stated in this list of demands. The Roundtable and public policy partner should survey and track organizations’ progress on each of the demands, as well as assess the infrastructure capacity/needs of organizations in order to put these practices into place.
  • Any progress reports should be public-facing. For example, the Roundtable should publish an annual or semiannual scorecard tracking what/how organizations are doing, examining data points such as how many arts & culture organizations have Black women in executive leadership and board positions.

 

Sincerely,

The Black Affinity Group et al.

List of Demands Authored By: Brittany Applewhite, Asari Beale, Judith Insell, David King, Jorjina Amefia-Koffi, Toya Lillard, Heather McCartney, Gary Padmore, Josephine Winfrey, PHR, SHRM-CP, and Kendra S. Williams

 

Philip Alexander, Board Member, NYC Arts in Education Roundtable

Ronald K Alexander, Administrator/ Teacher/ Choreographer

Jorjina Amefia-Koffi, Teaching Artist

Emily Baldwin, Teaching Artist

Aileen Barry, Senior Director of Education & Outreach, National Dance Institute

Asari Beale, Executive Director, Teachers & Writers Collaborative

Roslyn Biskin, Advisory Director, TAMPD facilitator, Together in Dance

Alex Chadwell, Teaching Artist

Andrew Chapman, Founder & Director, Mobile Dance Film Festival

Lisa di Liberto

Andrea Dishy, Arts Administrator

Polly Garcia, Theatre Artist/Teaching Artist

Catherine Gonçalves, Student

Adriana Guzman, Program Facilitator, Community Word Project

Jessica Handrik, Adult Education Advisor & Advocate

Chris Heller

Javan Howard, TAP Lead Facilitator for Curricula & Internships

AnJu Hyppolite, Artivist/ Teaching Artist

Arielle Jennings, Student Program Manager

Nancy Kangas, Teaching Artist, Ohio Arts Council

Sobha Kavanakudiyil, Program Director

Emily Keating, Director of Development and Education, Kunhardt Film Foundation

Kinsey Keck, Programming & Membership Manager, NYC Arts in Education Roundtable

David King, Program Director of School & Community Partnerships, Community-Word Project

Ava Kinsey, Director of Education, Brooklyn Academy of Music 

Alex La Torre, Administrator and Educator

Traci Lester, Executive Director, National Dance Institute

Toya Lillard, Executive Director, viBe Theater Experience

Tamar MacKay, Family Programs Coordinator/ Lead Museum Instructor, Brooklyn Museum

Megan MacPhee, Teaching Artist/ Program Coordinator, Rosie’s Theater Kids

Taryn Matusik, Teaching Artist, Lincoln Center Education

Steven McIntosh, Director of Family Programming, Brooklyn Academy of Music

Kyla McKoll, Program Manager

Ginger Meagher, Director of Education, TDF

Traci Molloy, Artist, Collaborator, and Education Activist

Kimberly Olsen, Executive Director, NYC Arts in Education Roundtable

Brennan ORourke, Program Manager

Ayo Oti, Board Member, NYC Arts in Education Roundtable

Gary Padmore, Director, Education and Community Engagement, New York Philharmonic

Katie Palmer, Executive Director, Together in Dance

Caroline Patterson, Executive Director, Bitty City Players

Rashaad Parker, Community Outreach Coordinator, Flower City Arts Center

Malena Pennycook, Teaching Artist

Jessica Polaniecki, Education Manager

Joy Prentice, Arts & SEL Equity in Education, Groove For Good

Diane Ramo

Jacqueline Raymond Wegman, Teaching Artist/Co-Founder, Intl Girls Ensemble 

Blair Reavis-Tyler, Administrator, Alvin Ailey Dance Foundation

Nick Robertson, General Manager, Brooklyn Children’s Theatre

Nikaury Rodriguez, Performer/Teaching Artist

Alexander Santiago-Jirau, Director of Education, New York Theatre Workshop

Katie Schuessler, Teaching Artist

Gaven Trinidad, Community Engagement Associate & Education Dept. Team Member, New York Theatre Workshop

Ania Upstill, Teaching Artist, Lincoln Center Theatre

Michael Wiggins, Teaching Artist

Brian L Thompson, Music Teacher, Brooklyn Conservatory of Music

Simon Rubey, Teaching Artist & CCNY Theatre Education Student

Marissa Ontiveros, Teaching Artist

Jacqueline Zemba, Service Member, The Institute of Music for Children

Paul Murphy, Teaching artist and Musician; Decoda, Juilliard, New York Philharmonic

Rachel Watts, Executive Director, ArtsConnection

Jillian Greenberg, Director of Education, USDAN Summer Camp for the Arts

Quanice Floyd, Founder, Arts Administrators of Color Network

Kara Fischer, Teacher

Audrey Thao Berger, Arts Administration and Dance Teaching Artist

Monique Letamendi, Artistic Director, viBe Theater Experience

Lissette Martinez, Network and Learning Manager, National Guild for Community Arts Education

Lana Meyer, Program Manager, Arts In Education, Alvin Ailey Dance Foundation

Sheri Gottlieb, Associate Director, Music Partners Program, Brooklyn Conservatory of Music

Kimberley Jackson-Brown, Managing Director of Elementary Programs, LEAP

Melissa Caballero, Arts Administration Graduate Student at CUNY Baruch College

Eve Wolff, Deputy Director, Dancing Classrooms

Alicia Kubes, Associate Director, Center for Applied Liberal Arts, NYU School of Professional Studies 

Spencer Hale, Senior Manager of Teaching and Learning, Little Kids Rock

Michelan Le’Monier, Director of Operations, viBe Theater Experience

Donna Walker-Kuhne, President/Founder, Walker International Communications Group, Inc.

Kati Koerner, Arts Administrator, Educator and NYCAIER Board Member

Alissa Blate, President, Black Dog Strategies

Jennifer DiBella, Director of Education, Roundabout Theatre Company

Kelly Donovan, Director of In-School Programs, ArtsConnection

Hector Rivera, Arts Administrator

Kaitlin Hines-Vargas, Corporate and Foundation Relations Manager, Education Through Music

Dorothy Savitch, Director of Music Partners; Director of the Brooklyn Conservatory Community Orchestra, Brooklyn Conservatory of Music

Rubi Fregoso, Arts Education Administrator/Director

Rachel Kara Pérez, Artist & Educator

Jhanelle Gopie, Senior Associate Director, Fund Development, Youth INC

Lisa Mitchell, Arts Administrator/ NYCAIER Board Member

Josie Whittlesey, Executive Director, Drama Club

Deborah Lohse, Teaching Artist

Kim Grier, Teaching Artist & Arts Administrator, Rod Rodgers Dance Company

Anu Annam, Founder/Director, SEA of Visibility

Amanda Newman, Evaluation and Special Projects Manager / Teaching Artist, Community-Word Project

Kirsten King, Youth Programs Director 

Hannah Berson, Director of Programs, Exploring the Arts

Alexis Morant, Operations Analyst

Kathleen Dorman, Education Director, Theatre for a New Audience

Kat Geng, Artist

Alexis Morant, Operations Analyst

Al Valentín, Teaching Assistant, Rutgers University

Gillian Adler, Principal, Socio-Ecological Solutions, LLC

Nancy Agabian, Writer, Teacher, Literary Organizer

Courtney Surmanek, Teaching Artist/Professor, Ping Chong + Company/Virginia Tech School of Performing Arts

Beata Moon, Teaching Artist

Parris Whittingham, Photographer and Creative Director, From Parris with Love

María José Maldonado, Artist

Cassandra Raimundi, Supporter

Anna Stefanic, Teaching Artist

Erin Orr, Puppetry curriculum specialist, ArtsConnection

Sarah Branch, Arts Administrator

Melissa Beth Birnbaum, Arts Educator, NYC DOE 

Kerrien Suarez, Executive Director, Equity in the Center

Theodore Wiprud, Composer and Consultant

Andrew Plumley, Director of Inclusion 

Natalie Correa, Arts Administrator 

Wade Handy, Associate Director of Education, Manhattan Theatre Club

Sheilah Mabry, Therapist, Leadership Coach, Artist, Consultant

Hayley Sherwood, Program Manager / Teaching Artist 

Grace Stewart, DEAI Project Manager

Sheilah Mabry, Therapist, Leadership Coach, Artist, Consultant

Yvonne Curry, Choreographer

Erika Atkins, Executive Director, Bloomingdale School of Music

Laura Borgwardt, Teaching Artist

Erin Loughran, Associate Director DELLTA Programs, ArtsConnection

Rosemary Taylor, Artist Educator, Guggenheim/ CUNY 

Olander Wilson, Teaching Artist/Actor

Michelle Lopez, Access, Education and Community Engagement Consultant

Nichole Talbott, Founder/Creative Director, Asé Arts

Nancy Kleaver, Executive Director, Dancing Classrooms

Karyn Kloumann, Artist

Elizabeth Chapin, Artist, Midterms Matter

Aqiyla, Manager of Community Engagement, American Documentary/POV

Tobie Stein, Professor and Author

Heather Lanza, Director of Education, Waterwell

Erika Myers Hyde, Development Director, DreamYard

Madelyn Murphy, Producing Associate, Waterwell

Fran Van Horn, Deputy Director for Development, ArtsConnection

Sabrina Alamo, Teaching Artist

Kate Bell, Teaching Artist, Theater Development Fund, Park Avenue Armory, Brooklyn Arts Exchange, City Lore, Marquis Studios

Madison Hoyos, Manager, Development and Partnership Operations, LEAP

Aviva Jaye Mitchell, Arts Administrator/Teaching Artist

Ronald Chironna, Teaching Artist, Studio in a School, Marquis Studios, Community Word Project, Arts For All, Center for Arts Education

Kierah Thompson, Arts Educator & Business Owner, The Vybe Lounge, LLC

Rosemary Williams, Arts Administrator

Caeli Smith, Teaching Artist/Violist, New York Philharmonic; Ensemble Connect; MusicAlly

Keith Kaminski, Director of Education, BRIC

Gabrielle Gilliam, Board Member, The Bechdel Group

Danielle Hilkin, Education & Outreach Director, Wyckoff House Museum

Meggan Gomez, Former executive director

Patrick Ferreri, Teaching Artist

Scot Maitland, Development Associate, Education Through Music

Emalie Mayo, Project Coordinator, Yale School of Drama

Maria Schirmer, Teaching Artist

Stefanie Siegel, Executive Director and Founder, Bailey’s Cafe

Piper Andrson, Founder/President, Create Forward 

Nicola Giardina, Program Director, Studio in a School

Saul Chernick, Director, Professional Development, Studio in a School

Shireen Dickson, Director, OKRA Dance Company

Kevin James, Founding Director, Arts and Learning Initiatives

Alexandra López, Associate Director of Education, Lincoln Center Theater

Lulu Fogarty, Project Manager / Arts Educator, Bridging Education and Art Together

Meghan Grover, Teaching Artist

Jessica Klonsky, Teacher

Josh Roth, Music Industry

Kim Tranell, Editorial Director

Anna Gold, Director of Communications, A child welfare org based in NYC

Adam Arango, Director of Development, Education Through Music

Brenda Maloy, Associate Director, Bridges Program, ArtsConnection

Laurine Towler, Teaching Artist, Lincoln Center Theater

Michelle Fletcher, Company Manager, Camille A. Brown and Dancers

April Biggs, Dance Artist / Teacher / Writer 

Blanca Esquivel, Researcher

Elizabeth Bishop, Director of Strategic Initiatives, CUNY SPS Youth Studies

Jennifer Kessler, Executive Director, International Contemporary Ensemble

Chesray Dolpha, Consultant, Kreatif Studio

Helen Wheelock, NYC AIE Roundtable Board Member

Yanira Castro, Artist

Courtney J Boddie, Arts Educator/Podcast Host

Anastasia Colzie, Previously Manager of Family and Community Programs

Angie Pittman, Artist and Educator

Sandrine Dupiton, Director of Education & Human Potential 

Sheila Kerrigan, Teaching Artist–Mime

Heather Hughes, Actor/Director/Teaching Artist

Katie Fanning, Education Project Manager, New 42

Alanna Pittard, Manager of Government Relations and Compliance, BRIC Arts Media

KeriAnne Murphy, Board Member, NYC Arts in Education Roundtable

Jean Oliver-Cretara, Manager, Teaching and Learning, New York Philharmonic

Marcus Johnson, Director of Programs, Opening Act

Paul Brewster McGinley, Director of Teaching & Learning

Traci Lester, Executive Director, National Dance Institute

David Shookhoff, Director of Education, Manhattan Theatre Club

Polly Garcia, Teaching Artist/Community Engagement Producer

Justin Daniel, Associate Director of After School Programs, Opening Act

 


 

References

 

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NYC AiE Roundtable