Studying diversity in arts and culture organizations

Supported by the foundation, a New York City initiative will review the diversity of the boards, staffs, and audiences of cultural organizations in the city—part of an effort to make diversity a priority for these institutions. “This isn’t about racism or purposeful exclusion of people,” the Ford Foundation's President Darren Walker told the New York Times. “This is about sophisticated leaders of boards simply not knowing who to turn to for help, because when they look among their own friends, their business associates, their neighbors, they don’t see much diversity.”

Published in the New York Times | March 3, 2015
New York City plans to study the diversity of its cultural groups
By Robin Pogrebin


In a major study to be undertaken this summer, the de Blasio administration will review the diversity of the boards, staffs and audiences of New York City cultural organizations, such as museums, orchestras and dance troupes.

“If you’re living in a city like we are in New York—with 65 percent people of color right now—maybe we’re missing out on some of the talent if we don’t have diverse audiences, staffs and boards,” said Tom Finkelpearl, the city’s commissioner of cultural affairs, whose department will commission the study.

Mr. Finkelpearl said there was no good data on the racial, ethnic or gender makeup of New York cultural organizations and their audiences, and that the study, to be done by an outside vendor, would help make clear that diversity should be a priority for institutions when it comes to naming trustees or hiring employees

“Over 90 percent of staffs at museums nationally are white,” Mr. Finkelpearl said.

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The Ford Foundation is an independent, nonprofit grant-making organization. For more than 80 years it has worked with courageous people on the frontlines of social change worldwide, guided by its mission to strengthen democratic values, reduce poverty and injustice, promote international cooperation, and advance human achievement. With headquarters in New York, the foundation has offices in Latin America, Africa, the Middle East, and Asia.