Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Accessibility
The Umbrella's Commitment to Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Accessibility
The Umbrella Arts Center aims to enrich lives and build a vibrant and inclusive community through the arts. As such, we have developed an Action Plan to inform program decisions as we build a welcoming, equitable, and inclusive environment. We see this as just the beginning of ongoing work, and this web page will serve as a living document subject to change as our staff and programs develop new strategies.
The Umbrella DEIA Action Plan
In June 2020, the murder of George Floyd, and the protests that followed, led The Umbrella team to a series of hard conversations: How do we become an anti-racist organization? Following summer-long conversations and staff education about Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Accessibility led by Tete Cobblah, an experienced career diversity and multicultural affairs director, we established a task force that undertook a deep audit of our mission statement, discrimination policies, operational practices and strategic plan. By the fall, we presented a revised mission statement and anti-discrimination policy to the Board, who promptly approved them, as well as a resolution and several specific commitments for an application for the Mass Cultural Council’s for a Universal Participation Initiative designation.
This section summarizes some of the top-level organizational committments covered under our detailed and evolving DEIA Action Plan. We understand that we have a long way to go, but this is a step and a commitment to work towards the ideals of what we can be.
Operations and Programming Actions
- Form an antiracism task force to plan, implement, and evaluate antiracism work at The Umbrella.
- Write an antiracism policy. Train staff on the use of the policy. Post the policy widely throughout the building and website, and hold all stakeholders including board, advisory board, staff, creative team, artists, teachers, students, performers, volunteers, and audiences to that policy.
- Adopt the Mass Cultural Council principles for Universal Participation, with a Board-approved resolution committing to ongoing best practices for expanding accessibility of our programs, and join the MCC's Innovation and Learning Network. UPDATE: As of October 2021, The Umbrella is proud to be named an MCC UP Designated Organization.
- Broaden accessibility of classes, workshops and ticketed performances through implementing Card-to-Culture programs, scholarship, sliding-scale fees, school outreach and additional efforts.
- Expand outreach vehicles used for advertising, recruitment, calls-for-art and program promotions to reach more diverse, regional audiences.
- Create a budget line item for ongoing antiracism work to be applied to professional development and staff training.
- Review our policies, procedures and standard practices including hiring, budgeting, and programming through a race equity lens to identify and dismantle structures which limit access and support racial inequity.
- Build a welcoming and safe environment for BIPOC community members.
Representation of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color
- Increase BIPOC representation in our community, whether staff, board members, teachers, students, performers, or volunteers.
- Amplify and expand BIPOC voices in decision-making processes.
- Proactively seek to expand and diversify our network -- new media channels, networking organizations, organizational partnerships -- to reach a broader BIPOC audience. We wish to build a relationship based on mutual aid. Invite the new audience/community members to participate in decision-making on the advisory board/program steering committees.
- We will provide mandatory, ongoing DEI and antiracism training/workshops for staff and board members. The committee will decide what type and how frequently training will happen. Volunteers, teachers, and performers will also receive appropriate training when they work with The Umbrella.
- Regularly share anti-racism resources and learnings with our board, staff, artists, teachers, volunteers and audiences.
- Adopt land acknowledgement practices and regularly share this acknowledgement in postings throughout our facilities, on our website, and in starting official meetings, gatherings, and rehearsals.
- The antiracism task force will annually evaluate the action plan and antiracism policy. The committee will review the number of racist incidents reported and how the policy did or did not address them. We will report on the measurable impact of the policy.
- The task force will make the policy and action plan fully transparent both internally and externally to the institution to ensure accountability.
- The task force will make an annual report to the Board.
- In addition to these organization-wide actions, several of our programs will undertake additional committments and actions specific to their disciplines and constituencies. See The Umbrella Stage Company DEIA Actions for Performing Arts.
Resolution on Universal Participation
Board Approved - 11/4/2020
Consistent with our mission-driven commitment to serve the needs of our widening, increasingly diverse regional constituencies, the Board and Staff of The Umbrella Arts Center resolve to proactively pursue strategies to:
1) foster an increasingly vibrant, diverse, inclusive and accessible creative community, leadership structure and working environment;
2) promote cultural exchange and opportunities to engage with culturally diverse artwork and perspectives;
3) provide leadership in our local community as an advocate for cultural equity and social justice;
4) and conduct a top-to-bottom audit of our mission, vision, facilities, recruitment practices and strategic planning to identify ongoing opportunities to expand diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility at every level of the organization.
Photo credit: John Lewis Mural by Umbrella Artcubator Artist Julia Cseko.