To the North Carolina arts community:
The death of George Floyd and the protests across the state and nation in response have again brought into stark relief the inequities that exist in our society. Those of us who work in the arts take solace in the fact that the work of artists from diverse backgrounds has long brought the issue of race to the forefront of public discussion. Through theater, literature, visual arts, dance, and music, North Carolina’s artists have focused attention on injustice and on the contradictions between the narrative of America as a land of opportunity and disparities in our justice system, healthcare, housing, education, and employment that are the outcomes of racism.
While the arts community here is justifiably proud of the work we do as a catalyst for insight and change, we must see that the demands for equity and justice also apply to us.
It is painful to acknowledge that the network of arts organizations and artists that receives support from the North Carolina Arts Council does not reflect the diversity of our state. The Arts Council has to admit that we are not sufficiently engaged in strong partnerships with people of color to ensure that those communities participate when the arts are used to revitalize downtowns, educate our youth, or foster economic growth through the state’s creative industries.
With the full support of staff and board, the North Carolina Arts Council will pursue the goals of diversity, equity, and inclusion with increased resolve and urgency. Even though the world is in the midst of a pandemic, we will strive to realize fully our founding mission of “arts for all people.”
This work is formidable, because it will require us to question fundamental assumptions about how we define and support the arts. Even so, the journey is necessary and vitally important to undertake. It is my great hope that you will be on that journey with us.
Wayne Martin, Executive Director
North Carolina Arts Council