Leading Black Trustees Come Together to Diversify Art Museums

“Tokenism is no longer acceptable and there will be an internal mechanism that holds the museums accountable.”

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Arts
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A group of powerful Black trustees in the stateside museum sector have joined forces in an effort to facilitate change and elevate diversity across programming, hiring practices and more in predominantly white-led institutions. The new advocacy group, called The Black Trustee Alliance for Art Museums, is seeking to further the spotlight of Black artists, curators and directors in the United States in lieu of the country’s social unrest and the ongoing Black Lives Matter protests.

The steering committee met for the first time last month. The group includes prominent collectors such as AC Hudgins who is on the board of the Museum of Modern Art, Denise Gardner from the Art Institute of Chicago and Troy Carter from the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. “This is a different moment,” said Pamela J. Joyner to the New York Times, a member of the alliance’s steering committee who is a trustee at the Getty Trust, the Art Institute of Chicago, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and the Tate Americas Foundation. “I don’t see anybody who isn’t focused on moving a process like this forward.”

The alliance’s mission, as described in a public statement back on September 18 is “to increase inclusion of Black artists, perspectives and narratives in U.S. cultural institutions by: addressing inequalities in staffing and leadership; combating marginalized communities’ lack of presence in exhibitions and programming; and incorporating diversity into the institution’s culture.”

The Mellon Foundation and the Ford Foundation are funding the efforts of the alliance. “There has always been a token on these boards,” said Darren Walker, the president of Ford who was appointed as the first Black trustee at the National Gallery last year, the same institution where the controversial Philip Guston show was set to launch in June. “Tokenism is no longer acceptable and there will be an internal mechanism that holds the museums accountable.”

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