What can we do to make Black Lives Matter in our professional art spaces?
This week on ArtEvolve we were joined by Sean Green, CEO and Founder of Arternal, to discuss the Black Lives Matter movement in the context of the art world.
We spoke about Sean’s own experience as one of the few black executives in the art industry, as well as in what areas we can all do better – from shippers to galleries to museums to conservators, to improve diversity and bring about equality in all aspects of art.
How can we improve diversity and equality in our institutions?
- Diverse hiring. Diversity hiring isn’t just about ticking boxes, it’s about making sure you are taking the time to search for non-white candidates to join your team (who may be less visible through traditional channels). A great place to start is with an audit of your existing staff to figure out how diverse you are now and where you’d like your organization to be.
- Board members. Is your board of directors entirely white? You wouldn’t be alone, even the non-profit organizations among us have this problem. Next time you need to take on a board member, consider whether it’s time to widen your lens.
- Market accessibility. Most gallery owners make their way into the business through personal funds or strong business connections. BIPOC, due to intergenerational poverty, don’t often have these resources available to them. If you invest in art business, it’s time to think about evening the playing field for all.
- Partnering with black-owned businesses. Who provides services to your institution is just as important as who you are hiring. Every partner from your cleaning service to your software systems can be looked at and evaluated. Just like with hiring, you can conduct an audit to discover how diverse your partners really are.
- Facing our problematic history. Some of our institutions are named after or were founded by problematic historical figures – the easiest to identify among them being slave owners or slave traders. Whether it is renaming a wing or removing a statue, it’s important not to erase these figures from history but start a conversation about their impact on today’s society.
- Repatriation of art. Who does art belong to? The museum that holds it, or the culture it was removed from? Learn more about what museum’s and governments are doing about the repatriation of art here.
- Sharing art with LMICs. Many museums in LMICs (low and medium income countries, as defined by the World Bank) are excluded from important exhibition tours because of long standing, and sometimes overly strict, regulations. As Sean says in this week’s ArtEvolve, art is meant to be seen. Why not use the already established BIZOT Green Protocol to allow more countries access to famous art?
- Be a good ally and advocate. Whether you are an independent conservator or the director of an institution, there are things you can do to support equal rights and opportunities for all. Two important elements of this are doing your own research on the history and current societal implications as well as speaking up as often as you can. Starting the conversation is always a good place to start.
How can technology help organizations support movements like Black Lives Matter?
- Social Media. Speak out on your organization’s public channels. Let your audience know what you stand for and why you support BIPOC.
- Hiring Technology. One way to decrease your institution’s hiring bias, whether it’s conscious or not, is to use blind hiring software. Many hiring technologies today allow you to go through applications without knowing the name or gender of your applicant – improving the odds that your hiring process is objective and inclusive.
- Data Analysis. We can’t improve what we don’t know. But in the modern age we have access to incredible amounts of data to understand our institutions and discover what areas need improvement. Whether you use the classic excel or more robust analysis software, data is a key to success.
- Crowdfunding. Although we would all love to donate to worthy causes, not every institution has the funds. With crowdfunding technology, it’s now possible for anyone to raise money for an initiative they believe in. It’s also possible to use crowdfunding for exhibitions!
Watch the recording to learn about Sean’s own experiences and hear his responses to the live Q&A section!
A special thank you to our guest speaker, Sean Green, CEO and Founder of Arternal.