AREAS OF PRACTICE
Civic, cultural, and organizational facilitation to synthesize and co-create unique solutions.
Cultural Policy is the intersection of the public and creative sectors. Cultural policy is most often overseen by a Local Arts Agency (LAA) at the municipal, county or state level. Since the establishment of the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) in 1965, hundreds of LAAs have been legislated. Historically they have implemented cultural policy primarily in the areas of grantmaking to non-profit cultural institutions, commissioning and maintaining public art collections, producing and presenting cultural programming, and operating publicly owned arts facilities. As both the civic and cultural sectors grew more complex, new approaches to cultural policy emerged. In the 2000’s the sector renewed a pursuit of arts education as a significant area of emphasis. Since the turn of the century diversity, equity, and inclusion have become an area of increased focus for both the public sector generally and the cultural sector specifically. The last decade saw the emergence of creative economy as an area of growth within both LAAs and Economic Development more broadly. The creative placemaking and placekeeping movements also introduced cultural policy that intersected with planning and community development. Finally, the COVID-19 pandemic saw the rise of multiple streams of funding and practice in local government that responded both to the financial crisis it created, and the unique role artists and creatives have played in recovery.
Creative Economy is the intersection of cultural and economic development. Prior to the COVID 19 pandemic, it was among the largest and fastest growing sectors in the national economy according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis. There are many definitions of Creative Economy, made up of a variety of industries, but creative work is central to all of them. Most often it is comprised of – but not limited to - film and media, visual and performing arts, fashion and design, culinary arts, and creative technologies. Unlike extractive sectors, creative economy is not finite; it can therefore be a powerful tool for economic opportunity self-determination. The creative industries are also more ‘future proof’ than most sectors, as creativity, empathy and storytelling cannot be automated or outsourced.
There are many major and valid critiques of the current state of the creative economy. The most obvious challenge is the legacy of underinvesting critical resources in artists, more specifically BIPOC creatives, which leads to continued inequitable practices and unstable labor systems. By design, artists and creative practitioners have become hyper vulnerable to poverty and deprivation due to governmental policies and a lack of adequate safety nets. These
challenges and inequities have been magnified by the pandemic and individual artists and creatives continue to bear the brunt of the COVID-19 fallout.
Today, there are movements happening across local, state and regional levels calling for artists and creative workers to be treated as self-determined humans with the working rights and labor protections other industries are afforded. It is time to shift focus to people and center equitable rights. Future strategies and economic models can support self-determined artists and creative workers with supportive systems, while reassessing the relationship between policy and investment. This can create more regenerative funding systems, reframing and redefining arts funders roles and responsibilities, and moving toward long term commitments to power sharing.
Racial Equity is the condition that would be achieved if one’s racial identity no longer predicted, in a statistical sense, how one fares. Racial equity is one part of racial justice. Therefore, we also include work that addresses root causes of inequities and not just their manifestation. This includes elimination of policies, practices, attitudes, and cultural messages that reinforce differential outcomes by race or fail to eliminate them. It also includes the development of new policies, plans, models, and narratives that allow for more equitable opportunities. We believe that the pursuit of racial equity is an act of strategy, not an act of compliance. The more people feel a sense of agency and self-determination, the stronger and more resilient a community or an organization can be. Racial equity, if achieved, would be to the benefit of all people, including white people. Racial Equity is a lens, an approach, and a practice, and is central to how we approach our work.