Unlocking Cultural Equity in New York City: Strategies for Access and Inclusion

The chart on the right illustrates the percentage of cultural groups across the United States. Donors are striving to make sure resources are distributed equitably and fairly, and many cities have taken steps to create a more inclusive and equitable cultural environment. The Seattle Office of Art and Culture has made a formal commitment to racial equity that includes capacity-building programs, space, and grants in line with the city's Race and Social Justice Initiative. Los Angeles County has launched a cultural equity and inclusion initiative, while the San Francisco Arts Commission continues its decades-long commitment to cultural equity through its grant programs. In New York City, OneNYC and DCLA's sister agencies have made it their mission to foster a more inclusive and equitable cultural ecosystem.

Equity and inclusion were the top priorities expressed by the CreateNYC community. More than three-quarters of respondents who participated in a telephone survey conducted by the University of Siena Research Institute said they would like to be able to attend more artistic and cultural activities. Location and cost were identified as the main obstacles to equitable, accessible, and inclusive art. New York City is full of creativity, and New Yorkers highly value the arts and culture in their lives. However, for many artists and cultural workers, there is a need to expand access to creative opportunities.

Underrepresented communities continue to face historical and persistent patterns of exclusion, both as independent artists and as cultural workers at all levels of institutions. CreateNYC provides an opportunity to support disability art and ensure that it is widely recognized as an art discipline that uses disability as a tool and a source of creativity. In order to guarantee that all New Yorkers have access to the transformative benefits of culture as consumers and creators, there are several proposals on how we can achieve cultural access for all New Yorkers, regardless of where they live. The recent report of the Arts Social Impact Project (SIAP) provides compelling arguments for greater equity in cultural funding. Health systems are discovering that developing and implementing cultural competence strategies is good business practice to increase the interest and participation of both providers and patients in their health plans among racial and ethnic minority populations. Universities, student organizations, outside organizations such as GQ, are raising awareness of relevant issues in the New York community, such as the preservation of affordable housing for longtime residents and the need for role models in New York City classrooms.

Canada has required higher standards for curricular material on cultural competence than previously existed. It helped low-income cultural workers survive, develop their skills, and use their creativity to support communities. In addition to increasing the cultural competence of healthcare providers, organizational accommodations and policies that reduce administrative and language barriers to health care are also important. The French Cultural Society is a student group that promotes French culture and language at Columbia University. The Korean Student Association (KSA) provides several ways to engage all those interested in Korean and Korean-American culture.