Cultural Equity with Karen Baxter
Tuesday, July 6, 2021
Tuesday, July 6, 2021
Thoughts on cultural equity and teaching with Karen Baxter, new online Cultural Equity in the Arts instructor.
When defining “cultural equity,” Baxter noted that “it isn't one thing for everybody. And it doesn't look the same necessarily for everybody. How you would talk about cultural diversity in Yiddish theater, for instance, or Kabuki theater, or even in Black theater.” Asking questions including “ What does that mean on the stage and what does it mean in the audience? What does it mean for the Board of Directors?” Baxter added “I don't think performing arts organizations can ignore what their audience demands...and that may fly in the face of what we think cultural diversity should be.”
Furthering the discussion, Baxter offered that “arts organizations are like churches. Churches say everybody’s welcome, but not everybody wants to go to a Catholic service or to a Baptist service. You’ve got to find your church.”
She encouraged organizations to explore how they can “develop an artistic doctrine, so that you can attract like-minded people who are culturally diverse. And, you know, all kinds of diversity: age, economic income, ethnicity. And should you?”
When asked about changes in the field she added that “there really aren't measurements that are interesting to tally. You know, we can look at all the bar graphs and the kinds of graphs that show organizational change or not, change in income or whatever. But really it boils down to the individuals and the people.”
Baxter provided important discovery points emphasizing that organizations can show that they have “added X number of people of color over the last 10 years to their board and they've changed their program to include at least one August Wilson play. But really what you can't measure is what has that done for its audience, what have they begun to think about perhaps that they didn't think about before? What have they learned? Can you get a crossover audience that isn't an all Black audience for August Wilson, and then your subscribers for everything else, and the Black people never come back until next year.”
The Arts Extension service is so honored to welcome Karen Allen Baxter to our instructors and we look forward to the journey Baxter and her students will take this fall as they dig into some of the most critical issues facing our field today.
Register for Cultural Equity in the Arts today!