Seeking cultural equity

Arts leaders talk diversity and inclusion

At the same time that “economic justice” is a buzzword these days, there’s also more attention to “cultural equity.”

The two principles are linked in some ways. This year, the city is putting together a plan for inclusive economic development that lifts all neighborhoods and ethnic groups. Last year, the City Council adopted a Creative Edge plan that calls for providing arts education to all Sacramento children and youth, advancing cultural equity for all groups and infusing all neighborhoods with arts and culture.

At an all-day event on January 16, more than 150 artists, public officials and leaders of arts groups and nonprofits gathered at Clunie Community Center to discuss how to take cultural equity from an idea to action. One session examined how to go from marketing and outreach to actual engagement with underrepresented groups. Another focused on approaches to diversity and inclusion.

Priscilla Enriquez, chief impact and strategy officer at the Sacramento Region Community Foundation, told them that the arts are important to the economy, but that entire ethnic groups are largely excluded. To stay relevant, she said, arts organizations must fix that, attracting a wider group of patrons and supporters.

While Sacramento prides itself as being one of the most ethnically diverse cities in America, it’s very difficult to tell if you attend performances of many major cultural groups.

The group at Clunie also heard from an embodiment of diversity—Khalypso, the Sacramento arts commmission’s youth poet laureate, whose self-description is “fat, black, neurodivergent, queer and an agender badass.”

She read two poems on black women and diversity. She got a standing ovation.