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Strategic Equity Plan

Letter from Our Board of Directors

At ArtWalla, our board recognizes that Walla Walla is not exempt from histories of systemic racism. The structures of racial inequity that threaten Black and Brown lives across America have, and continue to exist, in our community. While we understand that it should not have taken instances of police violence to manifest this action, we are committed to and passionate about fostering an equitable arts community in the Valley we love. We stand in solidarity with the international Movement for Black Lives and Black Lives Matter Walla Walla - the activists seeking to combat police brutality, white supremacy, and systemic racism in our community. Black Lives Matter is not an opinion, nor a political tool - it is a statement of fact.

For years ArtWalla’s guiding principle has been “Art for All”- we see equity as vital to fostering an arts culture of excellence. However, as an organization, our work has not always moved us towards that goal. We recognize that arts communities, including ours, are unequal. Artists often struggle to make ends meet, however there are specific historical and structural obstacles to accessing art resources, gallery exhibitions, and funding opportunities for Black and Indigenous People of Color (BIPOC). Moving forward, ArtWalla is committing unequivocally to equity throughout our organization. Addressing disparities means understanding and combating the historic oppression against members of our community based on race, gender, class, sexual orientation, ability, age and other identities. It means actively shifting power, resources, and privilege. And it means understanding our role in perpetuating inequities through our work as an organization. We commit to embedding equity into our culture on every level: our leadership, operations, programs, and partnerships. 

Specifically at ArtWalla, in the past, we have not always equitably served the Latinx, Black, and Indigenous artists and art lovers in our community. Historically the entirety of our leadership, and a majority of members have been white visual artists. Our programming has been limited in scope and reach. Our leadership and feedback have most often been pulled from our own echo chamber. As an all-white board, we also recognize the privilege our racial identity has afforded us. We will work to build community relationships based on trust where we have failed or neglected to before. We aim to address these issues with a sense of deep urgency, which requires long-term, sustainable work. We will move forward intentionally, recognizing that DEI efforts are not singular; they must be made in conjunction with other actions.

Toni Cade Bambara said, “the role of the artist is to make the revolution irresistible”. Arts communities are ideal environments for civic engagement. We believe that art is essential in our lives, and in our fight for transformative change. As artists, we are taught to think critically, question our environments, and challenge our audiences’ and our own ways of thinking. These lessons do not end with art, and we are committed to engaging critically with our organization and community. Shifting culture inside and outside our walls is hard, often uncomfortable work, and a lifelong commitment. We are making this commitment both as an organization and as individuals, understanding that we all are in different places in our anti-racism work. Together, we stand equally committed to engage in reflection and take action. We invite you to join us in our commitment to pursuing equity, both personally and in our collective spaces. Through this work, we hope to truly embody our slogan, “Art for All.”


Sincerely,

The ArtWalla Board


Natalie Lyons-Cohen

Hannah Bartman

Patty Gardner

Tricia Harding

Greg Tate

Lynn Woolsen

Sarah Leighty

Katy Rizzuti


What’s Next | In 2021 we are working on: 

Equity Self- Assessment

  • As a first step our board has embarked on a racial equity self-assessment. The goals of this self-assessment are to identify 

1) barriers to engagement 

2) key areas for growth

3) mechanisms to receive feedback and increase transparency

4) a timeline for continued antiracism commitments

  • We are a volunteer run organization with a small operating budget, in the future we hope to dedicate funds specifically for DEI trainings and assessments


Strategic Planning

  • Structured timeline for anti racism work

  • Brainstorming for new programming in 2021


Outreach

  • Make all subcommittees available for public membership 

  • Make volunteering options more widely available

  • Reach out to build partnerships with BIPOC centered organizations in WW

2020-2021 

Revise ArtWalla Governing & Board Policies

  • Revisit & reassess mission to include Diversity, Equity and Inclusion [DEI] training for Board members 

  • To ensure that board membership is possible for anyone who wants to volunteer, we need to first create board policies and structures that:

    • Increase the number of board members to 10

    • Identify and remove barriers of engagement

    • Recognize that volunteering time and resources is a privilege, and make accommodations

  • Reassess and structuralize board policies

    • Accommodate for different levels of participation

    • Clarify expectations and commitments for membership

  • Create DEI focused subcommittee

  • Set up volunteer programming 


Transparency

  • Transparency report on leadership, programming, and membership

  • Annual strategic plan available to the public on website

  • Track participation data to understand underserved demographics

  • Conflict reporting system/feedback for public use on our website


Programming

  • Complete evaluation of existing ArtWalla programming (Art Squared, FFAT, Education Grants, Dia de los Muertos, Creative Network) using Equity Lens


Budget

  • Budget assessment

    • Create annual budget item for accessibility and translation services

  • Fundraising specifically to reduce barriers to entry, particularly for working artist members 

“This is precisely the time when artists go to work...There is no time for despair, no place for self-pity, no need for silence, no room for fear. We speak, we write, we do language. That is how civilizations heal. 

I know the world is bruised and bleeding, and though it is important not to ignore its pain, it is also critical to refuse to succumb to its malevolence. Like failure, chaos contains information that can lead to knowledge-even wisdom. Like art”

— Toni Morrison


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