Turning Commitment into Action

Turning Commitment into Action (TCA) for arts and cultural organizations is a free racial equity learning cohort designed to give organizations of all kinds and sizes the tools they need to turn their commitments to racial equity - both within their organizations and in partnership with the community - into institutional and structural change.

While many organizations and institutions have diversity and inclusion initiatives, fewer are explicitly working to address institutional and structural racism. TCA participants learn how to move beyond diversity, inclusion and equality models to enact and communicate a pointed focus on racial equity. TCA teaches groups why, in working to achieve the best possible outcomes for all people, we center race as we lead, name and frame with a racial equity lens.

Cohort Participants

In 2015 -16, a total of 30 arts and cultural organizations participated in three TCA cohorts. Each TCA cohort consisted of two intensive, ten-hour training days and spanned six sessions. Individual participants and organizational teams were assigned homework between sessions. Staff from ARTS and the Office for Civil Rights provided coaching and technical assistance throughout, and consultants co-facilitated training sessions.

Organizations were asked to send three representatives from different areas of the agency (e.g. human resources, education, artistic production, board, etc.) including at least one organizational decision-maker in a leadership position with the authority to implement changes and hold all areas of the organization accountable (e.g. an executive director, managing director or deputy director).

2015-16 list of cohort participants

TCA Curriculum Overview

Each TCA cohort is designed to:

  • build the capacity of participating organizations through collaborative learning activities, hands-on training sessions, technical assistance and coaching;
  • provide specialized tools and resources to address institutional and structural racism within and across organizations, and in the community;
  • provide organizations with the tools to conduct a racial equity assessment of their organization;
  • develop and support the implementation of a racial equity plan for each participating organization.

TCA Objectives

  • Examine how race is socially constructed.
  • Discuss manifestations and patterns of institutional and structural racism facing artists, arts and culture administrators, funders, arts educators, cultural organizers, audience/participants and communities - both those working within the arts and cultural sector and those using arts and culture to support transformation in other areas (e.g. housing, criminal justice, transportation, education).
  • Identify perceived and real barriers to racial equity in arts and cultural organizations and the sector as a whole.
  • Understand your own and others' social identities and social positions, and why we approach equity through the lens of race to achieve structural transformation.
  • Explore how we can create the change needed to build racial equity. What does it mean to be a change advocate? What does it take for groups/institutions to change and/or to sustain racial equity as their core work? How can we work structurally, across organizations and sectors, to achieve racially equity? How are the roles of people of color different from the roles of white people in creating structural change?
  • Articulate a clear, compelling story for your group's evolution that you can share with stakeholders, including co-workers and others connected with your group.
  • Use an assessment tool to understand the steps your group must take to address race-based disparities and build racial equity.
  • Learn from local leaders who have led and participated in racial equity change processes: What worked? What didn't? What were the most important lessons learned? How are the challenges facing advocates of color different from those of white advocates?
  • Incorporate what you've learned to outline your plan to build racial equity.
  • Receive feedback and coaching from facilitators and City of Seattle Race and Social Justice Initiative (RSJI) staff, and peer support on plan implementation - successes and failures forward.
  • Practice applying racial equity tools and learn about additional resources for ongoing support.
  • Share and examine best practices such as calls for artists, racialized content in artistic productions and leveraging arts-based strategies for community change.
  • Workshop strategies and tactics for overcoming institutional and structural barriers as part of each organization's racial equity plan development. 

Arts & Culture

Gülgün Kayim, Director
Address: 303 S. Jackson Street, Top Floor, Seattle, WA , 98104
Mailing Address: PO Box 94748, Seattle, WA , 98124-4748
Phone: (206) 684-7171
Fax: (206) 684-7172

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The Office of Arts & Culture promotes the value of arts and culture in, and of, communities throughout Seattle. It strives to ensure that a wide range of high-quality artistic experiences are available to everyone, encourage artist-friendly arts and cultural policy.