Listen and learn, Step up and Act & Accountability and Change

In the earlier “In Solidarity” statement that Kala released, we acknowledged historic inequities that are still apparent today in society; we rejected systemic racism and recognized the tremendous amount of work that needs to be done moving forward. We stated that as an institution we need to listen and learn, step up and act, and work together for accountability and change.

Listen and learn: A staff member of color, a Black artist in residence, and a studio assistant of color brought to our attention that our initial statement neglected to acknowledge how Kala as an institution has historically underrepresented people of color, particularly Black and Indigenous people, through a lack of diversity in our programs, staffing, and board structure. This opened up an important and necessary conversation and an invitation for reflection and action.

Step up and Act: Although we have expanded diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives through special residency programs, exhibition and public programs, and certain education programs, it is still not enough. We are identifying inequities and want to acknowledge our challenges in the following areas:

– We acknowledge that Kala’s on-site youth art programs do not match the diversity of the neighboring public schools that we serve.

– We acknowledge that long-term artists in residence are predominately white, lacking representation of  Black artists, Indigenous artists, and artists of color.

– We acknowledge that classes and studio fees are inaccessible to low income communities, which disproportionately impacts Black communities, Indigenous communities, communities of color and people of intersectional identities within BIPOC and LGBTQ+ communities

– We acknowledge that Kala’s full-time staff is predominantly white (65%) and currently does not include any full-time Black staff members.

– We acknowledge that our board is predominantly white (70%).

Accountability and change: Kala was realized 46 years ago as a way to support artists and share resources and ideas. We are identifying shortcomings and are sharing this statement with our community as a way to be held accountable. We have much to learn as an organization and much work to do moving forward.

We are committed to holding each other accountable for prejudiced and racist behavior as we work towards a holistic approach to anti-racist work that is integrated in Kala’s day-to-day operations and throughout each program.

As a community we ask that you also do the personal work to unlearn prejudice and call in peers when you see injustice. We will follow up in the coming months identifying actionable steps toward this change. We welcome your input and feedback; now or in the future.

Looking forward to the work ahead,

Mayumi Hamanaka, Archana Horsting, Gisela Insuaste, Ellen Lake, Claire McPherson, Meghan Pohlod, Nick Shick, Gabriela Yoque