Leading Racial Justice Nonprofit Race Forward Launches Racial Equity in the Arts Innovation Lab in New York City

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Leading Racial Justice Nonprofit Race Forward Launches Racial Equity in the Arts Innovation Lab in New York City

Seeking sixty local arts groups to participate in a yearlong training program to improve racial equity in the arts and culture sector

April 4, 2017 (NEW YORK, NY) – Leading racial justice non-profit Race Forward: The Center for Racial Justice Innovation today announced the launch of the Racial Equity in the Arts Innovation Lab – a yearlong deep dive into racial equity interventions for 60 New York City arts and cultural organizations. Race Forward is accepting applications for the program now through April 30th.

The Racial Equity in the Arts Innovation Lab will include a multi-component training series tailor-made for arts organizations in the city. Funded through The New York City Cultural Agenda Fund in The New York Community Trust, the Innovation Lab will recruit, train, coach, and provide a stipend to 60 diverse arts organizations from various corners of New York City’s arts sector.

“The arts and culture field, like many other sectors, has historically over-emphasized diversity and audience engagement strategies. In our current political climate these interventions are more crucial than ever – yet still don’t go far enough when it comes to truly building racial and cultural equity,” said Nayantara Sen, Culture and Content Project Manager for Race Forward. “With this Lab, New York City arts organizations have an unique opportunity to develop actionable strategies for interrupting structural racism and building power for communities for color.”

Race Forward’s training and coaching team will guide participants in identifying, developing, and implementing specific racial equity strategies both within their organizations and beyond. The Lab is open to organizations that focus on music, theater, performing arts, dance, horticulture, zoology, history, science, and other fields within the arts and culture sector.

The Lab is launching just as the city’s most ambitious intervention in the cultural sector to date – the Create NYC Cultural Plan – is being released, and arrives on the heels of New York Department of Cultural Affairs (DCA) survey results that revealed a lack of diversity in New York City’s cultural institutions.

“The Cultural Agenda Fund is both thrilled and proud to be funding such an important effort to build the racial equity capacity of our sector,” said Kerry McCarthy, Program Director for Thriving Communities and Arts and Historic Preservation at the New York Community Trust. “This Lab will support organizations to move beyond quantitative representation and diversity metrics to taking concrete actions for equity in art-making, arts presenting and producing, community-building, and cultural organizing.”

The Lab will serve as a timely and strategic intervention in meaningfully producing racial equity in the arts and culture sector while enhancing visibility, positioning, and access for participating groups as they engage with the new Cultural Plan.

Throughout Race Forward’s history, the organization has explored the significance of arts and culture as a means for social transformation and transcending barriers. The creation of the Racial Equity In the Arts Innovation Lab demonstrates the group’s commitment to elevating the role of arts and culture in movement building and advancing racial equality.

Race Forward has a 35-year legacy of racial justice advocacy and experience helping organizations incorporate real strategies that address structural racism and advance racial equity. Services include training and consulting, strategic coaching, and organizational development.

The Racial Equity in the Arts Innovation Lab eligibility guidelines and application can be found at https://raceforward.submittable.com.

For more information, contact [email protected].   


Race Forward advances racial justice through research, media and practice. Founded in 1981, Race Forward brings systemic analysis and an innovative approach to complex race issues to help people take effective action toward racial equity. Race Forward publishes the daily news site Colorlines and presents Facing Race, the country’s largest multiracial conference on racial justice.

Since 1924, The New York Community Trust has been the home of charitable New Yorkers who share a passion for the City and the suburbs—and who are committed to improving them. With its donors, The Trust supports an array of effective nonprofits that help make the City and suburbs vital and secure places to live and work, while building permanent resources for the future.

Established in 2014, The New York City Cultural Agenda Fund is a collaboration of seven funders that seeks to strengthen the City’s arts advocacy network and advance cultural policy and equity.