Cuyahoga Arts & Culture is committed to equity.
In all areas of our work, CAC is striving to promote equity and inclusion.
Our Value of Equity
We recognize that our society is challenged to overcome a complex web of inequities, and we believe that CAC is responsible for operating with an awareness of legacies of privilege and power that have effects on opportunity, access and resources. This awareness will inform all of our policies and practices, including funding criteria, program development, hiring, and resident engagement.
Our Commitment to Equity
CAC's Vision: All Cuyahoga County residents experience a meaningful cultural life.
To achieve our vision, the Cuyahoga Arts & Culture staff has developed a set of equity commitments. These principles ensure that our values and actions are aligned. The commitments serve as guides to day-to-day decision making and help ensure that equity threads through all that we do. To that end, we have stated the following:
Through the work of CAC, we strive to:
- Reflect and serve the racial and cultural diversity of Cuyahoga County.
- Deliberately share power with (partly through investing time and money in) people of color, recognizing that CAC is responsible for operating with an awareness of legacies of privilege and power.
- Include and engage historically-excluded individuals and groups in our work.
- Racial and cultural diversity = “A value that brings unique perspective of life experience to the decision-making table, focusing particularly on racial and ethnic groups, LGBTQ populations, people with disabilities, and women.” (D5 coalition)
- Historically-excluded = “CAC strongly encourages applicants who have been historically marginalized or underrepresented. Priority funding goes to artists that foster artistic expression deeply rooted in and reflective of historically marginalized or underrepresented communities.
Informed by the Grantmakers in the Arts’ “Racial Equity: Statement of Purpose,” these communities include: African and African American; Latino/a; Asian and Asian American; Arab; Native American; Pacific Islander; lesbian, gay, bisexual, queer; transgender and gender variant people; people with disabilities; and women. Cuyahoga Arts & Culture also recognizes that some marginalized communities may not be listed here and encourage applicants to articulate and provide supporting evidence about the marginalization of any community or ethnic/people group not named above. Marginalized communities do not include fringe artistic disciplines.” (CAC guidelines)
How We Got Here
In 2016, the Cuyahoga Voices & Vision community listening project invited County residents to help shape our future. Planning for the next decade helped us see our need to focus on not only the groups we fund, but the residents that we ultimately serve. As a result we updated our organizational values, naming equity as an integral part of CAC’s identity. These new values help guide how we do our work, but also affirm our commitment to serving the entire community through everything we do.
What We're Doing Differently
Here are some steps we have taken over the last two years to put our value of equity into action:
- We developed the equity commitments above as a team and have been using them in all aspects of our agency's institutional work, including grantmaking, hiring and communications.
- We expanded our definition of "public benefit," our most heavily-weighted funding criteria in our grant guidelines, to include the lens of "respect" for one's community.
- In 2018, we worked with Erica Merritt from Equius Group LLC to develop content focused on equity and inclusion for our application workshops and panelist trainings.
- We used our equity commitments above to guide the selection of Artist Network Leader contractors.
- We used explicit language to stress our commitment to equity on a call for partners to support artists:
CAC and its partners will strongly encourage applicants who have been historically marginalized or underrepresented. Priority funding goes to artists that foster artistic expression deeply rooted in and reflective of historically marginalized or underrepresented communities.
- We mapped equity practices of our grantees using individual meetings, surveys collected at CAC gatherings, and other modes of research. This data provided us with a better understanding of how we can best serve our community’s cultural ecology.
- We devote time to discussing how we can further act on our value of equity at weekly team meetings.
- We partner with various local and regional organizations to expand our reach into diverse communities.
- All staff and board members participated in Racial Equity Institute training and we offered free access to this training and Latinx Challenges workshops to staff and board of grantee organizations (see Racial Equity Institute Training section below for more information).
- A staff member completed Philanthropy Ohio’s Putting Racism on the Table, a six-month program with funders from across the state committed to identifying and addressing systemic racism in their work. Jill also serves on this grantmaking association’s diversity, equity and inclusion committee.
- We participated in a training through VSA Ohio, which focused on how arts organizations can be more inclusive for people with disabilities and their support networks.
- We are always learning more through training and reading:
Racial Equity Institute Training
CAC is partnering with Cleveland Neighborhood Progress to offer the Racial Equity Institute (REI) GroundWater and Phase I training to its cultural partners.