Friday, August 14, 2009

Should Greater Cincinnati Art Organizations Better Strive for Diverse Hiring?

Bay Area curator, Anuradha Vikram presents a discussion about the hiring and management of art organizations. She offers links to a few different articles that explore a lack of diverse hiring practices in the arts and its effect on funding. This is not a debate about race, but about the role of art organizations to serve their communities. If administrative hiring does not reflect the diversity of their regions, attracting patrons of the community in which the organizations reside results in an otherwise unnecessary battle for funds and ultimately isolation.

As Vikram shows, one way to address this isolation is a proposal to abandon degree certifications like those of Art History and Museum Studies as hiring criteria. The argument suggests these degree programs are not diverse enough to be part of a hiring pool. As an art historian (of Latino decent), I strongly disagree. I'm part a a very large pool of ethnically diverse art historians. Vikram too disagrees though presents a much more nuanced argument that seems to focus more on the defined roles of these institutions in their communities rather than their administrators.

How can Cincinnati, with its large number and variety of art organizations, apply this debate for increased patronage. Will understanding the role each plays in the community result in more diverse hiring practices thus less isolation? Further, do local arts funding practices discourage defining these roles and does this make our own arts organizations inferior in their competition for state or national grants?