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Home / Blog / Universal Participation / Our Commitment to Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion

Our Commitment to Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion

Greg Liakos, External Relations Director

We believe it is not enough to envision a better world.  We must build it.

Bianca Leigh and MJ Rodriguez in Trans Scripts, Part I - The Women. Photo courtesy of American Repertory Theater. Image by GretjenHelene.com.
Bianca Leigh and MJ Rodriguez in Trans Scripts, Part I – The Women. Photo courtesy of American Repertory Theater. Image by GretjenHelene.com.

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.

Massachusetts is becoming a more diverse Commonwealth. The cultural sector—our nonprofit arts, humanities, and science organizations, artists, schools, local cultural councils—is uniquely positioned to ensure this diversity remains our strength. The arts, humanities, and sciences are the means through which diversity strengthens the fabric of our communities, cross-cultural conversations enhance our understanding of one another, and racism and bigotry of all kinds are identified and rejected.

As the sole state agency dedicated to supporting this sector, Mass Cultural Council is a bridge between state government, our cultural community, and the people we serve. To that end we work to promote diversity, equity, inclusion (DEI) within the agency and through grants, initiatives, and advocacy. That means Mass Cultural Council welcomes and respects our constituents regardless of age, ability, ethnicity, race, religion, philosophical or political beliefs, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, nationality, geographic origin, immigration status, and socio-economic status.

The Mass Cultural Council is proud of its accomplishments in this work. We were the first state arts agency in the country to specifically incorporate the humanities and sciences into our mission, ensuring a more inclusive definition of culture that allowed for diverse grantmaking to a range of nonprofit cultural organizations, artists, and educational initiatives. With 329 local cultural councils led by 2,500 volunteers, our investments reach every corner of Massachusetts regardless of geography. Our 25-plus years of investments in creative youth development pioneered strategies to leverage the power of the arts and culture to help vulnerable young people find pathways to success in school and life. Our Universal Participation Initiative broke new ground by helping nonprofits incorporate universal design principles to be more open and welcoming to persons with disabilities. And our EBT Card to Culture program has opened the doors to museums, theaters, music halls and more, to Massachusetts residents of limited means, through free or reduced admissions.

To support our vision for diversity, equity, and inclusion, 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
  • Grantmaking and Awards
  • Training, Technical Assistance, and Other Services
  • Marketing and Communications
  • Partnerships

To achieve these goals, the agency developed a four-year DEI plan. Read our full plan and details on our progress to date.

We recognize that we must continually adapt our goals, strategies, and tactics as our understanding of cultural equity deepens through continuous conversations with our constituents and partners.


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