There is already evidence that organizations trying and failing to show a commitment to diversity and inclusion publicly reiterated so many of them during the 2020 Racial Justice Bill.
Such is the case with the Indianapolis Museum of Art in Newfields, which last week launched a vacancy for a new director who “would attract a wider and more diverse audience while maintaining the museum’s traditional core white art audience,” reported the Indianapolis Star.
I am sure you can tell what is wrong with this sentence. Why does a call to attract a diverse audience have to be qualified with a statement that “white” core people should remain in the group? Are white people driven away by the mere presence of non-white people or something? (That is a rhetorical question).
In both cases, the management of the museum did not seem to find any problems with the language in the publication – until it caught on on the Internet and earned a lot of side eyes.
Charles Venable, CEO and president of the museum, told the Indianapolis star, in response to outraged responses to the listing, that the controversial phrase’s intent was to show that the institution wanted to add people to its audience, not subtract anyone.
Unfortunately for Venable, the museum’s board of trustees and board of governors seemed to believe that his subtraction from the equation was necessary. Venable resigned from his post on Wednesday, according to NBC News. In one letter, the museum directors said in a letter that “Newfields must become the cultural institution our community needs and deserves”.
The story goes on
Of course, the museum also says it will take steps to address its diversity and inclusion.
From NBC News:
“We will appoint an independent committee to conduct a thorough review of the leadership, culture and own board of trustees and Board of Governors of Newfields with the aim of fully representing our community and its full diversity,” it said.
Newfields will also expand “curatorial representations” of exhibitions and programs by, for, and by blacks and Latinos, women, people with disabilities, the LGBTQ community and “other marginalized identities,” the letter said.
The museum will also include additional free or discounted days to improve accessibility, form an advisory panel composed of artists, activists and members of color communities “whose primary role is to hold leadership accountable for these goals”, and continue to oppose racist education for its boards, staff and volunteers.
Kelli Morgan, a former curator of the museum’s Black Associate, Kelli Morgan, followed the troubled line in the job posting, which has since been updated to read only “traditional core audiences,” and said the listing reflected the lack of real investment in the Institution reflected in diversity.
“The entire job description is full of diversity languages, but it is completely independent of what that language actually means, because if you’ve been invested, if you care about it, right, if you’re familiar with all of this DEI (Diversity (Justice and Inclusion) that you got up and that sentence would never have been there through that job description, “Morgan told the Indianapolis Star.
Morgan, who was hired by the museum to promote culturally diverse arts, left the institution last year after saying it was a discriminatory environment where people with color fail.