Dear Friends,

We are committed to the vital work of cultural equity, which for us means that racial equity, diversity, inclusion, accessibility, and belonging (DEIAB) are guiding lights through recent challenges presented to the world—the pandemic, a financial crisis, and continuing racial injustice. We have brought in experts to lead cultural equity workshops for our board of trustees, staff, teaching artists, and volunteers. This key stakeholder cohort is now a formal committee of the board of trustees and meets bi-monthly in what we are calling equity jams. Together we are implementing key recommendations from an organizational cultural equity assessment, which is helping us identify, discuss, and put into action what it means to become a fully equitable organization in both policy and practice. Externally, we are seeking funding and partnerships to expand the accessibility and inclusivity of our creative aging programs in Greater Washington, D.C.

We are developing more client and partner reach with communities that are BIPOC-led and/or BIPOC reaching (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) so that we can strengthen impact with and in historically marginalized communities. We are recruiting more teaching artists with diverse backgrounds, arts disciplines, and who are multi-lingual. We are infusing our therapeutic and multi-disciplinary arts programs with more multi-sensory approaches to increase entry points for inclusive engagement with participants impacted by varying conditions in aging. While creating these collaborations and strategies is helping address some of the immediate impacts of racial inequities in health and aging that have been exacerbated by the pandemic, we’re also moving ahead with a spirit of long-term sustainability. We are maintaining community connections, robust partnerships, and inclusive co-created programs already established over our 34-year history. Progress is measured by surveying stakeholders on impact, conducting pre-and post-workshop assessments, and by comparing pre- and post-pandemic constituent reach as we build back our client base with hybrid programming: in-person, virtually, telephonically, and with home-delivered heART Kits.

Embracing a theme of Connection in 2022, in May the board adopted recommendations made by the equity cohort for revisions to our organizational statements of mission, vision, values, and beliefs. Together, we also created cultural equity statements, leveraging resources from advocates at the national level, Americans for the Arts. Our cultural equity statements reflect vital and lasting beliefs about our work together. They are foundational to Arts for the Aging’s mission, goals, activities, and ways we relate to one another. They are principles that unite us—program participants, teaching artists, board, staff, advisors, volunteers, clients, and partners. Our goal is to create an organization that is welcoming and inspires a sense of belonging at all levels to people with diverse abilities and backgrounds.

We are pleased to share our revised organizational statements and our new cultural equity statements.

Illustration: Created by Lenique Huggins and inspired by an Arts for the Aging equity jam.