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Expanding the Leadership Pipeline for BIPOC Talent Across the Cultural Sector

Carmen Plazas, Communications & Community Engagement Manager

NAACBoston’s Mentorship & Sponsorship Program 2.0

a photo of two people talking, one with their back to the camera, the other is smiling
NAACBoston’s 2022 Mentorship & Sponsorship Program Cohort celebrated shared accomplishments and reflections at culminating event in May. Photo: Sam Johnson.

Mass Cultural Council is working to help create a cultural sector where racial diversity flourishes, decolonization is perpetuated, and inclusion is the norm. We understand that Initiatives like the Network for Arts Administrators of Color (NAACBoston) with their vision of a cultural sector that amplifies the contribution and dignity of all voices in a majority minority city, are vital in achieving this goal.

Created to address the lack of representation of people of color in decision-making roles and dispel false narratives regarding the absence of qualified candidates in Greater Boston, NAACBoston today includes over 400 arts administrators and practicing artists of color. NAACBoston, an initiative of ArtsBoston, creates platforms for connection, learning, and mutual support. It fosters professional growth and widens the leadership pipeline for BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) arts administrators.

In FY22, Mass Cultural Council funded NAACBoston’s Mentorship & Sponsorship Program. This program connects BIPOC arts administrators to empower and prepare them to navigate a reemerging sector and to foster careers that bring about positive social change.

a photo of two people laughing. The person in the background has long braids, some colored a dark blue. In the foreground, the person has long, dangly earrings, a cropped hairstyle and a black mask pulled down to their chin.
NAACBoston’s 2022 Mentorship & Sponsorship Program participants laughing. Photo: Sam Johnson.

“It is true in the cultural sector – as in all other industries – that inclusion, representation, and the raising of diverse voices makes the work better, deeper, and more resonant,” said Yvonne Cain, SVP, Group Media Director, MediaHub and program participant.

The Mentorship & Sponsorship Program, which recently wrapped up its second cycle, provides a six-month, in-depth experience for a learning cohort of 20 BIPOC professionals in different stages of their professional development, as well as a learning cohort that is open to all NAACBoston members. It includes one-on-one-meetings, career counseling, panel discussions, professional development workshops, and networking events.

“I have been fortunate to have key individuals help me move forward in my own career, through mentorship opportunities, connections, and support. It is an honor to be a NAACBoston sponsor this year, where I have the chance to connect and learn from my sponsee and everyone in the cohort. The opportunity to meet, support, and learn from other arts leaders of color is rejuvenating and inspiring,” said Ruth C. Mercado-Zizzo, Vice President of Programs and Equity, EdVestors.

NAACBoston’s Mentorships pair five early-career professionals with mentors for individual support, guidance, and role modeling. Their Sponsorships pair five mid-career professionals with sponsors who can tap into resources of power and open doors. All participants receive an honoraria.

“The arts sector needs programs like NAACBoston because being an arts administrator of color can be an isolating and challenging experience. We face particular challenges around culture, interpersonal communication, and promotion that require a specific set of skills and awareness. The Mentorship & Sponsorship Program is a great way to address those challenges with smart matches and deep sharing of knowledge and networks,” said Jazzmin Bonner, Programs Manager, StageSource.

a group photo of 13 arts administrators and artists of color
Program participants, organizers, and Mass Cultural Council Executive Director Michael J. Bobbitt at NAACBoston culminating event in May. Photo: Sam Johnson.

Meet the Mentorship and Sponsorship Program 2.0 Participants

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