Context: Our country was founded on systems and structures of power and racism that granted privilege and access unequally, resulting in a complex web of inequities and generations of unjust outcomes anchored in white supremacy culture. Within the arts and culture sector, an historic societal and philanthropic bias for European art forms undervalued the contributions of artists of color, racialized public policies and institutional practices, both conscious and unconscious, and institutionalized unequal access to education and resources ensued. Recent national events have only heightened the significance of these inequities. And Silicon Valley’s history of economic and racial disparities, its unprecedented economic success and high cost of living, and COVID-19 have exacerbated these inequities.

Response: SVCREATES began our journey to stand up for social and racial justice in February 2018 at our annual board retreat. Inspired by wanting to do the right thing and eliminate any unintentional bias in our work, we hired Equity Arts to conduct a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) audit. Over the course of next eighteen months, arts leaders of color and SVCREATES staff were interviewed, surveys were distributed and analyzed, learning workshops were conducted and review of communications, program materials, evaluations and reporting were completed. In February 2020 Equity Arts presented their findings to the SVCREATES board.

Findings: While SVCREATES has a history of serving small to mid-size multi-cultural and multi- disciplinary arts organizations and artists in Santa Clara Valley well, like all institutions we have been influenced by dominant white culture and are complicit in our silence and with our actions. Resources and opportunities have not always been equitable, our DEI intentions are not clearly defined or tracked and we have more to do and learn.

Commitment: We believe that artists are agents of change and that engagement in the arts foster an equitable society by illuminating our humanity and inhumanity, building bridges across cultures, and deepening understanding and attachment to community. Diversity and inclusion are necessary but stand hollow without equitable actions that free us from bias and favoritism and create a path for justice.

In the spirit of action, SVCREATES has formed an Equity Council to guide our work and intends to:
    • Be responsive to our community and reflective of those we serve through the composition of our board, staff and advisory leadership.
    • Dismantle any inequities within our policies, systems, programs, and services while including artists and arts leaders of color in their development.
    • Use an “equity lens” for making fair and just decisions in the creation and distribution of our programs and services.
    • Prioritize investment in capacity building for artists/arts organizations that addresses their self-determined needs.
    • Create shared learning opportunities for our board, staff and portfolio of artists and arts organizations in Santa Clara County that encourage difficult conversations about race.
    • Be a trusted voice for social and racial justice.
    • Institutionalize accountability through on-going tracking and reporting progress toward annual equity goals within a DEI dashboard.