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Our Commitment to Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion

DEI Plan (FY18-21)

Culture is intrinsically valuable and unique in its ability to lift the human spirit. Cultural diversity is as necessary for humankind as biodiversity is for nature.

Mass Cultural Council must be a leader in making Massachusetts a place of diversity, equity, and inclusion.

In order to build a place of equity and inclusion we will:

  • Honor the breadth and diversity of cultural expression across Massachusetts,
  • Fairly and equitably invest our financial, programmatic, and informational resources, and
  • Recognize that listening to all voices is not enough. We must activate what we hear.

This is not a goal with a perfect end. It is an imperfect process demanding constant attention. We know that this work is hard.  But we are committed.

To support this vision we are working through a multi-year process that began with a yearlong learning and assessment process in FY18. During that process we identified five areas of focus and related goals, based on our own organizational structures and relationships with our constituents:

Internal Culture: Agency processes and practices

  • Goal: Cultivate a culture of equity and inclusion within the Mass Cultural Council

Grant Making and Awards: Direct financial support and recognition given to artists and cultural organizations

  • Goal: Encourage full participation in Mass Cultural Council-supported programs

Training, Technical Assistance, and Other Services: Workshops, site visits, designations, and other services provided beyond grant making

  • Goal: Encourage full participation in Mass Cultural Council-supported programs

Marketing and Communications: Language, images, and platforms used to describe Mass Cultural Council’s work and impact across the state and in specific communities

  • Goal: Expand our reach in ways that encourage an applicant pool that reflects the diversity of our Commonwealth

Partnerships: Relationships with key groups, including the Council and legislators

  • Goal: Leverage relationships and engagement efforts that deepen and broaden effective advocacy on behalf of cultural equity

DEI Plan (FY18-21)

To achieve the above goals, the agency developed a four-year plan. To organize the plan, agency staff took part in a collaborative prioritization process. Staff recommended cross-agency working groups that allowed for inclusive leadership opportunities as the best method for working toward these goals.

The agency also recognizes that the scope of many of the areas of focus will take more than a fiscal year to work through. Each working group will identify their scope for the year and any unfinished work will be carried forward into the following fiscal year. Staff also acknowledged that future work would necessarily be influenced by what the agency learns and accomplishes as the work continues.

Staff and leadership also acknowledge that this work has no end point and is a continual process.

Progress to Date

Between July 2017 and June 2019 the Mass Cultural Council:

  • Now includes pronouns in staff business cards, email signatures, and on the website.
  • Includes staff photos on the website.
  • Expanded the number of nonprofit cultural organizations committed to adopting universal design principals through our Universal Participation Initiative.
  • Addressed salary standardization and documentation per the new pay equity law.
  • Removed unnecessary academic qualifications from job postings and shifted focus to relevant experience.
  • Grown the number and range of nonprofit cultural organizations offering free and reduced admission to low-income residents through EBT Card to Culture.
  • Revised language used on website to describe programs and services that is accurate, easily understandable, and welcoming.
  • Launched a new, responsive web site. As part of this build we consulted with National Center for Accessible Media at WGBH to ensure the site’s accessibility and included Google translate to engage with non-English speakers.
  • Invested in the Network for Arts Administrators of Color by funding their Mentor/Sponsorship Pilot Program.
  • Systematized our process to ensure accessibility of our large public events, smaller meetings, and other public gatherings.
  • Facilitated meaningful interactions between constituents and legislators to show the diversity of communities served (e.g., youth, social service organizations, artists, cultural organizations).
  • Continued, successful efforts to ensure that the diversity of Mass Cultural Council staff reflects the diversity of the Commonwealth. This includes outreach and promotion of open positions through networks that encourage diverse candidate pools.
  • Provided in-depth training to our staff and provided free trainings to nonprofit cultural organizations on best practices to prevent and address sexual harassment and discrimination.
  • Raised the visibility of traditional artists representing diverse cultural traditions through two showcase concerts.
  • Provided in-depth staff trainings on racial and gender equity practices.


Update and Revise Mass Cultural Council Human Resources (HR) Policy Manual

  • Formally document all current Mass Cultural Council HR policies by updating the formal handbook
  • Update Mass Cultural Council organizational chart so it appropriately reflects the nature of the organization and provides guidance on appropriate lines of communication
  • Share revised policies with constituents to model behavior
  • Enhance Mass Cultural Council hiring practices through HR
  • Add language to job descriptions that outlines how you create an inclusive environment
  • Send job announcements to arts centers and nonprofit organizations skilled in accessibility and inclusion planning efforts

Examine Application and Review Process

  • Reconsider the timeline and process for grant and award submissions
  • Consider how long applicants have to wait to hear a response on applications
  • Reconsider the length of the applications
  • Consider what is suitable for submissions and reporting requirements
  • Consider how expanding submission formats (e.g., in person interviews, video submission, submissions in different language) can improve understanding of proposed projects
  • Consider whether the non-panel programs are serving their intended audiences well with the selection processes that they have
  • Offer technical assistance in a variety of ways
  • Ensure that review processes and panelists do not inadvertently value grant writing skills above project benefit
  • Convene user experts to provide feedback on timeline, application length, and language
  • Reconsider and revise the application process and format based on user expert feedback
  • Consider strategies for broadening the applicant pool, including engagement of Mass Cultural Council staff with broad networks
  • Continue to supply applicants with feedback and panel comments in order to strengthen future applications
  • Regularly review the balance of program funding allocations

Create More Cross-Program and Cross-Experience-Level Conversations and Working Groups to Encourage More Collaboration

  • Expand the working group model to bring together staff from across the agency to work collaboratively on a problem, program, or initiative and to facilitate sharing communication, data tracking and sector trends
  • Incorporate additional opportunities for cross-agency conversations into existing practices, including power of lunch and 411 presentations
  • Consider increasing budget for professional development for all staff


Examine Grant Panel Review Process

  • Diversify grant panelists, using strategies such as recruiting through channels used to post open positions
  • Go beyond existing networks and relationships
  • Promote available opportunities through community-specific networks and service organizations
  • Revisit the requirements to be an effective grant panelist to only include what is truly required
  • Note opportunities for panel service on the Mass Cultural Council emails and social media sites
  • Review panelist requirements and recruitment language, adjusting to ensure they align with panel needs
  • Survey panelists to understand their experience with the process
  • Determine where else youth panelists could serve in addition to the Amplify panel and develop a pipeline of opportunities for youth panelists
  • Review the various ways panelists are trained and identify and standardize current best practices across panels.

Build in Ways to Track Progress with Accountability and Data
Internal HR Policies and Practices

  • Job application referrals by source (e.g., Mass Cultural Council website, other website, networks)
  • Leadership opportunities offered throughout the year
  • Grievances filed by staff

Panelist Information

  • Establish which metrics should be tracked agency-wide and which should be tracked on a per-program basis
  • Number of panelists, by diversity categories
  • Number of panelists, by program-specific qualifications (e.g., expertise in artistic discipline, experience in education, financial knowledge)
  • Update the agency-wide database of panelist information to ensure it captures the agreed upon metrics
  • Develop a pipeline of panelists to use across programs

Applicant and Grantee Information

  • Establish which metrics are currently should be tracked agency-wide and which should be tracked on a per-program basis
  • Number of applicants, by diversity categories and number of applications submitted
  • Number of successful applicants (grantees), by diversity categories and percent of successful applications

DEI-focused Programs and Services

  • Number of grantees who receive training, technical assistance, or other services

LCC Applicants and Universal Participation Initiative Participants

  • Number of applicants, by diversity categories
  • Number of successful applicants (grantees), by diversity categories
  • Number of grantees who become UP network member and/or receive designation
  • Number of UP program participants who become grantees

FY21 and Beyond

Areas of focus will largely be determined by FY19 and FY20 results, but will include:

  • Description of services and technical assistance
  • Outreach
  • Sharing and promoting successful DEI strategies with constituents
  • Continue a practice of transparency
  • Advocacy and communication
  • Community engagement

For feedback, ideas, suggestions, please contact Jenifer Lawless.

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