Dear ArtYard Community,
In June 2020, like many arts institutions across the country, ArtYard shared a statement of solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement in the wake of the tragic killings of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, and the many others whose lives were taken. This statement included an acknowledgment of the art world’s historic profiting of Black art and creativity, and its reinforcement of white supremacy through the exclusion of people of color from positions of power; and ArtYard’s commitment to undergo a deep scale of examination and reckoning, as well as a pledge to take action both within our own organization and within the larger arts community. We write to you six months later to share what we have done so far at the staff, board and programmatic level in this continuing process, as well as our commitment moving forward. In sharing this, we seek to hold ourselves and fellow allies in our community accountable and welcome collaborative action and effort in affecting needed change and reparations.
At the staff level, ArtYard’s entire team took part in a virtual two-day training with The Racial Equity Institute (REI), an alliance of trainers, organizers and institutional leaders who help individuals and organizations develop tools to challenge patterns of power and grow equity. Our staff took part in Phase 1 of the three phases of The Racial Equity Workshop, whose two-day program is designed to develop the capacity of participants to better understand racism in its institutional and structural forms, through a historical and cultural lens. We’ve included the link here for any individuals, organizations, or community leaders who are interested in taking part or offering such training. The workshop provided vital reflection on white privilege, and a thorough look at the historical context of ongoing patterns of inequity and oppression; a history that has been intentionally silenced and censored from broad American consciousness.
At the Board level, ArtYard is honored to welcome Sharnita Johnson, Program Director for the Dodge Foundation’s Arts Program, as our newest member. To learn more about Sharnita’s distinguished career and our Board as a whole, please visit our Board of Directors page. As we work to expand our Board, we are doing so with a commitment to making ArtYard more diverse, equitable and inclusive. We welcome Sharnita Johnson’s expertise and guidance as we further ArtYard’s mission to serve as an incubator for creative expression and a catalyst for collaborations that reveal the transformational power of art.
At the programmatic level, since reopening our doors in September, ArtYard has intentionally sought to commission, curate and program collaborations and projects that amplify Black artists in order to further our prior efforts in diverse programming. Since its founding, ArtYard has made a conscious effort to seek out, engage and lift-up the voices, leadership and art practices of people of color at all programmatic levels: curatorial, exhibition, poetry and performance; however, our heightened intentionality in the recent months comes from an acknowledgment and pledge to do more in the art world and within our own organization. Our recent focus in diversifying our programming marks our continued dedication to use ArtYard’s platform to augment BlPOC artists, and to fulfill our mission with attentiveness to racial equity. To learn more about our recent programming and the distinguished artists, writers and musicians we have had the privilege to collaborate with and present, please visit our website.
These actions at ArtYard’s staff, board and programmatic level mark the first steps of a continuing process and growing commitment to being an anti-racist organization. Looking ahead, ArtYard plans to prioritize diversifying our staff as we seek new candidates for future hiring opportunities, and to partner with Black-led organizations and arts institutions with shared values and visions so that we can broaden our audience, network and collaboratively incubate new innovative work.
We thank you for your support of ArtYard in our efforts to grow and do more, and look to our audiences and fellow allies in our community to work together collaboratively to forge a more equitable future. If you have any thoughts as to how ArtYard can do more to effect change, we want to hear from you. Please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Black Lives Matter.
The ArtYard Team