Beth Tobey

Arts Commission focuses on Equity, Inclusivity and Environmental Justice

Beth Tobey @ 4/5/2018

At a retreat in February, 2018 the Arts Commission had a workshop, facilitated by local expert Hannah Garcia, regarding cultural and racial equity. This discussion inspired excitement about a more intentional focus on how the Arts Commission could be equity leaders moving forward –impacting the artists and community members we work with as well as setting a positive example for the City’s managers and elected officials. We examined our implicit biases, asked uncomfortable questions, and educated ourselves about the history of marginalized groups and the struggles these groups face today. Beth Tobey, the City's Arts Program Manager, positioned this as foundational step prior to revising the City’s Arts Master Plan. The Arts Master Plan lays out 5-10 year vision for the City’s investments in arts and culture and establishes a focus for ongoing partnerships and programs. 

Irene At Beach Flats

The most impactful and beautiful projects we have worked on in the last few years have all touched on themes of equity, inclusivity and environmental justice –such as the Beach Flats Mural, the Diversity Center Youth Mural and the sponsorship of the annual Guelaguetza by Senderos and the Mole & Mariachi Festival. All touched on themes of equity, inclusivity and environmental justice – and have deepened our understanding of the importance of this focus. We also understand and acknowledge that it requires intentional efforts to change systems and structure of inequality. 

We also understand and acknowledge that it requires intentional efforts to change systems and structure of inequality. Without intentional efforts the structures that disenfranchise and limit are replicated over and over again. Such disparities do not make for healthy communities nor for a thriving arts and culture experience.

One of the first steps to inform our efforts will be to assemble an Ad Hoc Council – a group of people that we can consult regarding programs, projects, and outreach efforts. We imagine inviting at least one representative from the following groups: Amah Mutsun Tribal Band, Santa Cruz Diversity Center, and Clarity Arts as well as local artists representing a range of cultures and languages.    

I believe the outcomes of this retreat will set us up nicely to start revising the Arts Master Plan for the City which will be our next BIG project. The Arts Master Plan establishes a 5-10 year vision for the City’s investments in arts and culture in the City and provides guidance regarding our ongoing partnerships and programs.

— Beth Tobey, Arts Program Manager
Photo 4 Centeotl Y Cis Guel 2017

According to the Americans for the Arts:

  • In the United States, there are systems of power that grant privilege and access unequally such that inequity and injustice result, and that must be continuously addressed and changed.
  • Cultural equity is critical to the long-term viability of the arts sector. 
  • We must all hold ourselves accountable, because acknowledging and challenging our inequities and working in partnership is how we will make change happen.
  • Everyone deserves equal access to a full, vibrant creative life, which is essential to a healthy and democratic society. 
  • The prominent presence of artists challenges inequities and encourages alternatives.