AHCMC Strives to Set National Example in Equity and Inclusion

Dear Colleagues,

Earlier this week we were thrilled to learn that (for the 4th year in a row) our Silver Spring-Frederick-Rockville, MD Metro Division is officially ranked #8 on the list of top 20 most arts vibrant large communities, according to the National Center for Arts Research (NCAR) Arts Vibrancy Index, proving once again that the inclusion of and investment in our County’s diverse communities contribute directly to our burgeoning creative sector’s $183M economic impact and serves as a model for our nation.  According to NCAR Director Zannie Voss, “…today’s climate of uncertainty makes it more important than ever to acknowledge and celebrate the essential role that arts and culture play in making communities…more vibrant places to live and visit.”

We are especially grateful for the entertainment, folk, and ethnic festivals produced in our Silver Spring, Bethesda, and Wheaton Arts & Entertainment Districts every year; we know that they add to the County’s vibrancy. AHCMC is proud to support these efforts and as a show of support, I encourage you to share this wonderful accomplishment!

As we strive to deepen our arts vibrancy and investment, we also endeavor to set a national example in equity and inclusion and learn from others. Recently, the Montreal Jazz Festival faced severe backlash for a controversial stage show, SLAV, featuring African-American slave songs performed by a largely white cast. The show’s performances were eventually canceled due to public protests and reproach of what many viewed as cultural appropriation. And historically in the musictheatre, and film/TV industries, the vast majority of featured artists and/or arts leadership directors are white men. This lack of inclusion leaves many voices and stories left untold, contributing widely to structural/historical racism and its effects on ALAANA communities in the arts. Considering the County Council’s Racial Equity Resolution adopted in April 2018, we know that the time is now to lead by example in Montgomery County. Our 2,000+ artists and scholars and 500+ arts and humanities organizations deserve nothing less.

In FY19 AHCMC is taking the necessary steps to realize our goal for more equitable grantmaking countywide. To that end, AHCMC is embarking on a fruitful partnership with Leadership Montgomery for the purposes of providing Racial Equity Training to our entire board and staff. Like our colleagues at  Arts, we believe this intentional examination of racial inequities will help us better understand root causes and systems, inform our understanding, and create solutions to address historical inequities in funding African, Latinx, Asian, Arab and Native American (ALAANA) artists, communities and arts organizations.  As we strive to achieve our Strategic Plan Goals, this expansion of our knowledge base will benefit all residents of Montgomery County without exception.

Whether mixing classical Hindustani music with beatbox, bringing a traditionally-costumed Chinese opera to local residents, or examining issues of mixed-race identity through memoirs, our FY19 grantees are producing innovative and community-minded programs and initiatives. So take a look at our FY19 Grants Brief to learn more and get out in our community to experience the plethora of multicultural offerings through CultureSpotMC.com!

Onward!
Suzan Jenkins,
AHCMC CEO
Suzan Jenkins is the CEO of the Arts and Humanities Council of Montgomery County.

Leave a Reply