Mass Cultural Council logo
Home / Blog / Universal Participation / Racial Equity Progress Report (Apr – Jun ’23)

Racial Equity Progress Report (Apr – Jun ’23)

Cathy Cheng-Anderson, Senior Director of Business Operations and Chief Financial Officer

A regular report on our anti-racism work

photo of children doing a craft project with clay and string
BOO at the Stone Zoo

In 2021, Mass Cultural Council launched a three-year Racial Equity Plan outlining some of the internal and external steps we will take to support and encourage an anti-racist cultural sector in the Commonwealth. As part of the plan, the Agency has committed to sharing our progress on this work each quarter:

Equity at the Forefront of the Agency’s FY24 Strategy

In January 2024, the Mass Cultural Council will roll out two new equity action plans: a Native & Indigenous Culture Equity Plan and a Disability Access Plan. The two new equity action plans represent an expansion of the Agency’s equity goals which kicked off with our Racial Equity Plan. Together they present a comprehensive intersectional approach to advancing equity in the cultural and creative sector.

The Native & Indigenous Plan will address the unique experiences and systemic barriers faced by Native American and Indigenous peoples within the Massachusetts cultural and creative sector. The plan is geared towards relationship building; elevating visibility, and representation; cultural education and language review, and refining our grant making strategies to better serve Native and Indigenous communities.

The Disability Equity Plan will address the unique experiences and systemic barriers faced by individuals with disabilities within the cultural and creative sector. The plan will outline action steps to refine our grant making strategies and outreach to better serve and welcome individuals who identify as being Deaf or Disabled, and to improve the Agency’s support and accommodations.

The new equity action plans recognize the complex intersectional layers of identity and the overlapping systemic barriers that different communities encounter. To ensure our strategies are responsive and relevant, the Agency continues to invite contributions from cultural organizations and individuals belonging to these communities to help shape our plans for the communities we aim to serve.  In future years, we will build and adopt a rural equity plan, immigrant/citizenship equity plan and others.

If you would like to learn more about getting involved, please contact us.

April – May 2023 Racial Equity and Access Work Highlights


Strategic Plan (2024-2026)

  • UP Designated Organizations: As we enter year 2 of the new 5-year Innovation Fund, our focus will be on integrating the UP Designation into agency-wide granting priorities and Equity Points.
  • Staff Working Group: actively focusing on agency-wide priority and equity points to ensure alignment with our strategic objectives.

Disability Equity Plan

  • The UP Innovation Learning Network will continue to be paused in FY24, while Open Door Arts works to build up the program and we search for its new host and agency partner.
  • Our Disability Equity consultants, Art-Reach and Open Door Arts, are in the process of collecting data and drafting action steps. The Agency timeline for public announcement is planned for January 2025.

Racial Equity Plan

  • BIPOC-Centered Organization Self-Identification: We have made significant progress with over 300 organizations self-identifying as BIPOC-centered, and we expect this number to grow with rolling submissions.
  • Staff learning session held on Unconscious Bias.


  • Access Consultations: Cape Ann Plein Air, Museum of Russian Icons,Umbrella Arts Center, The Jar, Boston Symphony Orchestra, SpeakEasy Stage,Historic New England, Peabody Essex Museum, and Art of Mass Gatherings for the Boston Area Music and Soul Festival.
  • Bi-monthly Check-ins: Connecting with ADA coordinators from New England State Art Agencies in collaboration with the New England Foundation for the Arts.
  • UP Office Hours: We held informative sessions in April and May, covering topics of American Sign Language in cultural settings, d/Deaf distinction,and Innovation Fund requirements, opportunities, and reporting.
  • Berklee Institute for Accessible Arts Education Advisory Board Annual Meeting.
  • Festivals & Projects: Office hour hosted focusing on the BIPOC-Centered Organization Self-Identification.

What’s Next?

  • Disability Consultants: We have engaged Disability Consultants to map disability data (Census Bureau 2022) and cultural funding (Mass Cultural Council). This information will help us better understand the landscape and identify areas for improvement.
  • Research: We are currently researching options that will enable artists with disabilities living in poverty to accept award funds without impacting their benefits and assistance status. This initiative aims to provide equitable support to all artists, regardless of their circumstances.
  • Leadership Exchange in Arts and Disability (LEAD) Conference: The conference will take place in Boston from August 27-31. The agency’s participation will involve joining the Host Committee, conducting workshops,leading a think tank, hosting a peer learning session, and offering partial scholarships to Massachusetts cultural workers.

Track on-going progress using our equity journey map.

Back to Top