ArtsMemphis recognizes that Equity, Inclusion and Access to the arts for all members of our community are critical for the vitality of our city. We acknowledge that our organization, founded in the era of segregation in 1963, has much work to do. Further, we understand that the art and culture traditions for which Memphis receives global recognition – Rock ‘n’ Roll, Blues and Soul, BBQ and Jookin’ – all originated within African American culture. To honor this legacy and continue to propel the art forms authentic to Memphis, we want to ensure that people of all heritages, orientations, backgrounds, and abilities are proportionately represented in ArtsMemphis, in the artists and organizations we support, and in the art produced and presented in our community.
We acknowledge that ArtsMemphis and the local arts sector, while vibrant and innovative, are not representative of our community. Arts organizations led by people of color are a minority in a city whose population is majority African American, and these organizations continue to be underfunded. Boards and staff of our and other arts organizations are not representative of our community’s population. Yet, despite these failings, our arts ecosystem is rich and collaborative, ambitious and full of promise. The historical art forms and organizations that anchor this sector have given rise to new art forms and new organizations, who are creating a new Memphis culture and cultivating the next generation of artists and citizens.
We believe that the arts are the soul of our city and that we have an obligation to ensure that all members of our community, particularly those who have been historically underserved and underrepresented, have access to arts experiences that have relevance to their own lives, and are available in their own communities and neighborhoods. We believe we are obligated to cultivate, nurture, and empower organizations that serve and represent historically underrepresented people so that these organizations may succeed in their missions and goals. We believe that through respect, openness, and transparency, we can create an organization and a community that celebrates the richness of our diversity, embraces inclusion and develops a dynamic support structure for our arts sector. We believe that in meeting this obligation, Memphis will grow as a place that attracts and retains talented people and sustainable arts organizations, attracting diverse artists with sustained opportunities to create and perform and ensuring the arts are an integral part of the quality of life of the members of our entire community.
This statement of our commitment to Equity, Inclusion and Access articulates ArtsMemphis’ commitment to arts investments (grant-making and programs) that advance equity, inclusion and access through and to the arts. It also serves as our foundation for our Equity Work Plan addressing specific actions and goals (under development fall 2020).
Please download our full Equity, Incusion, Access Statement here.
Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 is the federal law that prohibits discrimination based on a person’s race, color, or national origin. All Tennessee Arts Commission grantees are subject to compliance with this and other applicable federal laws.
If you believe you have been subjected to discrimination or to request an accommodation, contact Kim Johnson, Director of Arts Access at 615-532-9797 or the Tennessee Relay Center at 1-800-848-0298 (TTY) or 1-800-848-0299 (Voice).
No person on the basis of race, color, national origin, disability, age, religion, or sex shall be excluded from participation in, or be denied benefits of, or otherwise be subject to discrimination of services, programs, and employment provided by ArtsMemphis.