Equity at the Arts Council
Our living commitment to identify and respond to barriers arising from bias or structural inequities.
Our Commitment to Equity
We seek to deliberately and continuously address systemic barriers to opportunity and are committed to promoting equity and inclusion for all Santa Cruz County residents. We believe our impact is enhanced when people from different backgrounds with unique perspectives are engaged in our activities and decision-making processes. We strive to increase equitable opportunities and outcomes by building a board and staff that reflect the communities we serve.
We acknowledge that historically and currently, institutions and systems of power grant privilege and access unequally, especially on the basis of race/ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity, citizenship status, socioeconomic status and disability status. The more that these barriers converge, greater limitations to opportunity exist. We recognize our role in supporting large and pervasive disparities in access to the arts and are committed to taking the actions required to eliminate these disparities and advance equity in our organization and in our community.
Equity in Action
Arts Council is dedicated to the county’s full arts community, acknowledging that art and artists are essential to the County's cultural and economic success and well being. We support and deliver programs where residents of all backgrounds can experience arts and culture that’s relevant and meaningful. In action, that means we intentionally focus our resources in culturally rich and historically neglected communities to ensure that they are elevated and celebrated, and well-resourced and well-positioned for their important work. Some recent steps.
EQUITY COMMITTEE: Formed a six-member Equity Committee made up of community artists and advocates who inform organizational programs and policies. Members are offered a stipend.
BOARD & STAFF: Built the first majority BIPOC board in our 40+ year history. Our board chair and vice chair, together, represent Watsonville, women, and BIPOC communities.
ARTS EDUCATION: Invested 100% of Arts Education programs in schools where 60+% of students either qualify for free/reduced-price meals, are English Learners, or Foster Youth. Expanded partnerships to include alternative education schools serving juvenile justice system-involved youth.
ELEVATE GRANTS: Assembled a cohort of 100% BIPOC-led, Watsonville-serving organizations that receive multi-year funding and professional development, up from 20% five years ago.
WATSONVILLE: Leased a dance studio in response to an expressed need for reliable, affordable space. Occupancy is 100% BIPOC-led and serving organizations with 100% of communications offered in Spanish and English.
ADVOCACY: Led advocacy efforts that resulted in a new arts funding stream in the City of Watsonville.
GRANTS program retooled: Our grants this year represent the most diverse pool of recipients that the Arts Council has ever supported, thanks to a multi-year effort to increase our support to underserved and underrepresented artists and communities.
The land on which we gather is the unceded territory of the Awaswas-speaking Uypi Tribe. The Amah Mutsun Tribal Band, comprised of the descendants of indigenous people taken to missions Santa Cruz and San Juan Bautista during Spanish colonization of the Central Coast, is today working hard to restore traditional stewardship practices on these lands and heal from historical trauma.
Pronunciations: Amah (Aaa-Ma), Mutsun (Moot-sun), Uypi (You-P), Awaswas (Aaa-Was-Was)