Why do we ABIDE?
We acknowledge that, as a predominantly white organization in the historically white, middle-class, cis-gendered, heteronormative, and able-bodied sector of “non-profit arts education”, the members of our organization who embody these listed traits must learn to understand the privileges afforded to them, as these privileges support biases that interrupt our ability to equitably achieve our desired mission “to champion creative learning, innovate education, and transform lives.” As Arts for Learning “envisions a future where all youth in Indiana have access to an education that is made whole by the arts,” we must acknowledge that access to the arts has never been equally distributed across boundaries of race, class, gender, sexual-orientation, or ability. We shall ABIDE with the historical truth that race, class, gender, sexual orientation, and ability-level have been reasons to separate communities of people from adequately funded arts programming and from their culture.
How do we ABIDE?
Therefore, Arts for Learning Indiana understands that we must ABIDE in continual work to ensure we stay in solidarity with communities of people that have been historically separated from adequately funded arts programming and from their culture. The systems of the dominant culture, of white supremacy, of ableism, of patriarchy, of heteronormativity, are all constantly adapting to maintain power. To ABIDE in solidarity with those historically and currently separated from power, to create programming “with” and not “for”, to foster interdependence with the communities we serve, we must continue to adapt and refine our model, striving toward justice and liberation, using the elements of Access, Belonging, Inclusion, Diversity, and Equity (ABIDE) in this process.
We define Access as both the removal of barriers and the support of systems-
We define Belonging as a feeling that each one of us is an important part of a group in which we have been included. Belonging is a sense that each has a place and space here and that we have an understanding of how the boundaries of our role fit in with those of the members of the rest of our group. When we belong, we enthusiastically consent to be present. Tenets of a culture of belonging include everyone feeling seen, valued, and a part of a common mission.
We define Inclusivity as the elevation of all voices within our internal and external decision-making processes; acknowledging our history as a predominantly White institution, in the predominantly white field of non-profit work, Inclusivity means intentional work to develop processes of elevating the voices of populations who have systemically been excluded from institutional power, within the context of Indiana, these have been majority Black and/or Brown communities. Tenets of our inclusive culture include making room for folks who speak less, recognizing and verbalizing natural power dynamics, and recruiting and hiring staff/board/teaching artists who represent the communities we are serving.
We define Diversity as the vast range of human experience, pertaining specifically but not exclusively to race, religion, ethnicity, gender identity, socio-economic status, ability, and/ or age. Tenets of our diverse culture include sharing space with people of different cultures, seeking new ideas, exposing school communities to cultures different than their own, and a growing awareness outside of someone’s own lived experience.
We define Equity as a reparative process in which every individual gets what they need to get to where they are going. As systemic injustices in the form of white supremacy, sexism, ableism, etc. have historically and continue to uphold unequal opportunities for people of privilege, “equity” cannot be reached through “equality”. Tenets of our equitable culture include transparency, collective accountability, embracing conflict as a transformative tool, and processes of restorative justice.