A few days ago I found out that my day job is going to receive an honor that recognizes their efforts to bring diversity to the stage and the audience.
This isn't the first time that such efforts have been recognized but it is still nice to see that others notice. It has also been nice to play a small role in helping bring in a diverse audience.
Over the past few years I've moved away from a lot of the arts/diversity talk. The issue is still very important to me. In fact, I think the nonprofit arts sector general challenge to recognize and empower people of color, younger people and just those with different ideas is the elephant in the room.
Any successful field reflects the future and all too often the arts reflects the world that was.
But I also think that the blueprint for success is there. There are plenty of organizations and industries that have tackled these challenges. Those who want to learn from those lessons can do that.
At the core, it's a very simple idea. You open the door. You share power and responsibility with those who don't necessary look or think like you. You continue to do this until it becomes an institutional habit.
I've never seen an organization who honestly wanted a different, more robust, more diverse culture fail at the task. It doesn't happen overnight but it always happens.
I've never seen a token, bullshit effort, win over the long term. That's just how it is.
But I've got to admit, it breaks my heart when I see some well meaning person making a "case" for diversity in the arts. It's almost 2012. If people still need a case before they embrace where the world is clearly going then they are already in a lot of trouble.
I truly wish that those who care about diversity in the arts would stop making cases and instead look for the raised hand.
Look for those who raise their hand and say "we get it, come help us."
Let's use our limited time and energy to assist those who want to embrace the future. Let's assume that embrace is authentic until it is proven otherwise.
I think that's the obligation we have.
Help those who want it. Ignore the rest.