Last year, I posted a report on my Arts and Culture Connection blog about the Diversifying Art Museum Leadership Initiative (DAMLI), a program established as the result of a joint venture between the Ford Foundation and the Walton Family Foundation, to diversify curatorial and management staff at art museums across the United States. Twenty institutions are participating in the program—18 at urban-area museums across the country and two at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs).
Darren Walker, president of the Ford Foundation, said the following about this joint venture: “The arts play an essential role in our society by inspiring people of all ages to dream and to imagine new possibilities for themselves, their communities, and the world. To ensure the future health and vibrancy of the arts in America, we need more arts leaders who understand and relate to the deeply varied perspectives and life experiences that weave the rich fabric of our nation,”
Now there’s more news: I recently read on the Culture Type blog, that at there are “28 Art Curators to Watch,” who are of African-American and African descent. These newly appointed arts leaders will personify what Darren Walker described—they’ll bring their “varied perspectives and life experiences” and “imagine new possibilities” for their communities and the world.
According to the blog post, which I highly urge you to read, these recently appointed curators will be working at major art institutions throughout the United States and Europe and contributing to the mounting of major exhibitions, biennials, special shows and/or art fairs. The Culture Type post includes photographs and brief biographies about each one of them, as well as related links.
According to a New York Times report last year, museums and cultural institutions are beginning to recognize that they will need to be able to respond to the nation’s changing demographics. Consequently, they are teaming up with foundations and universities to ensure that the next generation of curators, conservators, educators and leaders includes people of color. According to a Mellon Foundation report cited in the article, African-Americans currently represent only four percent of the people in these positions, and Latinx represent 3 percent..
Clearly, we still have a very long way to go. But I believe it’s important to make note of and celebrate every step that advances our efforts to achieve diversity, equity, inclusion and access to culture and the arts.