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Racial Equity Progress Report (June – Aug ’23)

Cheyenne Cohn-Postell, Program Officer

A regular report on our anti-racism work

photo of 5 women holding hands with crossed arms and laughing. Each is dressed in a different monochrome costume and hat with long fringe dangling from the wide brims, covering part of their faces
Lionesses El Atlas at the African Festival of Boston. Photo: Allison Brown.

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:

June – August 2023 Racial Equity and Access Work Highlights


  • In alignment with the Racial Equity Plan a Language Translation Working group has been formed to secure vendors and create instructions on how best to make all agency materials more accessible.
  • Mass Cultural Council leadership, supervisors, and the Disability Task Force are working with Disability consultants to ensure recommendations for a Disability Action Plan and the scale up of the disability learning hub are in alignment with the Agency’s strategic plan and is readily achievable by staff.
  • The Cultural Equity & Access team led two all-staff learning sessions on d/Deaf: condition and identity, and Multiple Intelligences; unpacking bias, recognizing systems change, consensus building, and group dynamics.

External: Engagement Highlights from FY23 Grant Making

  • Through targeted outreach and the implementation of strategic priority points, we have successfully ensured that the number of our FY23 grantees from marginalized communities significantly surpasses their proportion in our state population.
  • Among the 525 applicants newly introduced to the Agency through the Cultural Sector Recovery Grants for Organizations, 75 organizations (14%) have returned to apply for the FY23 cycle of Festivals & Projects. Efforts are underway to retain, continue to fund, and serve these applicants.
  • In FY23 we also introduced audio program guidelines and frequently asked questions. By offering both written and audio methods to convey grant program information, we hope to engage with more – and new – applicants with a variety of learning styles.
  • Our grants management system’s functionality enables directly sending emails to registered users. For example, in May 2023, an email sharing future Agency opportunities had an open rate of 80%. This incredible open rate signifies that our constituents are not only engaged, but also receptive to receiving new information about our offerings.
  • By making ADA requirements central criteria for Festivals & Projects grants, we’ve gathered insights into the sector’s understanding and educational needs. This has guided our FY24 plans for Access “office hours” to support our grant recipients, focusing on expanding access beyond architectural barriers, understanding neurodiversity, and promoting Universal Design in both its foundational principles and practical implementation as an equitable approach to accommodations.

What’s Next

  • At the end of September our Disability consultants – Open Door Arts and Art-Reach – will deliver a presentation to staff to mark the conclusion of our collaboration with them. Following this, we will be finalizing the Disability Equity Plan, enabling staff to begin putting it into operation.
  • The Racial Equity Plan’s impact continues with Disability Equity and Indigenous & Native American Cultural Equity Plans rolling out in January 2024.

Track on-going progress using our racial equity journey map.

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