Letter From Our Board
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.”
The ArtWalla Board