September 2020 DEI Update

Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) Happy Hours

On July 13 and 27, the Cultural Alliance hosted two happy hour events for Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) members of the arts and culture community in Greater Philadelphia. Our goal was to create a safe space for BIPOC to be their full selves, vent, cultivate joy, and create community. Participants engaged in exchanges that centered solidarity and innovative thinking with the aim to continue together on this path of social justice. While the events were primarily a time for informal and candid conversations, they also provided the space for attendees to share their lived experiences of how it feels to be working in the arts and culture community. This opportunity shed additional light on concerning inequities in our sector that the Cultural Alliance will take into account as we move forward with our Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) work over the coming year and beyond.

Anti-Racism Conversation for White Arts Administrators

In June, as part of our recommitment to DEI work, several staff from the Cultural Alliance attended a conversation hosted by the Accomplices Leadership Institute (ALI) titled “What Can’t You Do?” It was a frank conversation for white arts administrators to do some difficult self-inquiry around what we were willing to do and to lose in order to stand up for our BIPOC colleagues and start the work of dismantling systemic racism within our sector. Because of the success of these conversations, which were for a national audience, we wanted to bring the opportunity for Greater Philadelphia white arts administrators to talk in community. On August 10, Amy Smith and Kris Smith, two of the original hosts of ALI conversations in June, joined the Cultural Alliance to facilitate just such a program. Amy and Kris held space for those seeking a supportive forum to ask questions and share motivations and strategies for the journey ahead. It served as a great first step for the 45 arts administrators who attended. Because of both the strong interest in and positive feedback from the event, we are looking to host another conversation so that additional white members of our community can have the opportunity to begin this important work.

What’s Next:

We are beginning the process of programming our Diversity, Equity and Inclusion work for the year ahead. If you want to be a part of that effort, we would love to have you involved through our DEI Affinity Group -- if you aren’t already a member, please email Lauren Gilmore at to join us! You can also stay connected by checking our Racial Justice resource page, which is updated regularly.

In 2021, we will also be facilitating our “Unconscious Bias Series: Helping Arts Organizations Understand & Breakdown Audience Barriers”, which will be a series of four workshops for arts organizations to understand how unconscious biases can impact their ability to connect and engage with their current and potential audiences. Be on the lookout for that and more from us soon!