The City Council of the City of West Hollywood unanimously approved an item at its regular meeting on Monday, April 5, 2021, to receive and file an Arts Division and Arts and Cultural Affairs Commission Cultural Equity Statement as recommended by the City’s Arts and Cultural Affairs Commission.
City of West Hollywood staff began preparations for cultural equity training and the development of a Cultural Equity Statement with the City’s Arts and Cultural Affairs Commission in mid 2019. The 2020-2021 work plan for the Commission included the development of a Cultural Equity Statement. In spring 2020, the City partnered with The Aspire Group, arts and equity consultants who have worked with many municipalities and arts organizations, to provide training and guidance in the development of the statement. The creation and drafting of the Cultural Equity Statement took place over a seven-month period and community members provided public input and feedback regarding the formation of the statement, which was adopted on February 25, 2021.
The right to freely participate in the cultural life of the community and enjoy the arts is recognized globally as a basic human right, as noted in Article 27 of the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Furthermore, “arts and culture have the power to enhance diversity, inclusion, and belonging, and contribute to positive outcomes across dimensions of civic life in the human, community, and economic development” as noted in a Cultural Equity Policy, adopted by Los Angeles County in June 2020. Cities that adopt policies and practices of cultural equity demonstrate empowerment of people to create just, inclusive, and equitable communities.
The City of West Hollywood Arts Division and Arts and Cultural Affairs Commission Cultural Equity Statement is as follows:
“The City of West Hollywood’s Arts Division and Arts and Cultural Affairs Commission believe that all people in the City of West Hollywood have the right to celebrate and engage in meaningful and relevant arts and cultural experiences. Each member of the community should have access to the arts which reflect and nurture individual identities, affirm personal value, and foster belonging in the community. Arts and culture are foundational to quality of life and vibrant and resilient communities. Arts and culture have the power to enhance inclusion, engagement, and diversity, and contribute to positive outcomes across civic life. The right to participate freely in the cultural life of the community is recognized as a basic human right.
“The Division and Commission’s definition of diversity includes all ways in which people differ, including but not limited to, race, ethnicity, gender, socioeconomic status, education, age, gender identity, gender expression, sexual orientation, ability, geography, citizenship status, religion, language, physical appearance, and the intersection of these various identities. (If the City of West Hollywood adopts an official City-wide definition of ‘diversity’ it will supplant the definition included in the Cultural Equity Statement.)
“We commit to ensuring cultural equity in all arts policies and practices. To implement the principles of this statement, the Division and Commission will:
- Advocate for equitable outreach and engagement resources to intentionally support and serve diverse populations.
- Actively seek out opportunities to acknowledge past exclusions and change perceptions by being mindful of ways to encourage participation of artists from groups who have experienced prejudice in the past.
- Reflect on and take action to address and correct any implicit biases that may lead to preferences for one artist or artform over another.
- Provide equity and access through systemic change that will remove barriers, thus improving access, empowerment and representation in the development and distribution of arts policies and resources to diverse communities and individuals.
- Remain accountable through ongoing evaluation and review of the effectiveness of cultural equity practices and procedures and by making public the results of cultural equity audits.
“The Arts Division and Arts and Cultural Affairs Commission commit to using this statement to inform funding, decision-making, leadership, staffing, resource allocation, policies, partnerships, and programs.”
The City of West Hollywood is committed to providing accessible arts programming for residents and visitors. The City delivers a broad array of arts programs including: Arts Grants, Art on the Outside (temporary public art), Urban Art Program (permanent public art), Summer Sounds, Winter Sounds, the WeHo Reads literary series, Free Theatre in the Parks, Library Exhibits and Programming, the City Poet Laureate Program, Human Rights Speakers Series, and the One City One Pride LGBTQ Arts Festival. For additional information, please visit www.weho.org/arts.
For additional information about the City of West Hollywood’s Cultural Equity Statement, please contact Mike Che, the City of West Hollywood’s Arts Coordinator, at (323) 848-6377 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit www.weho.org/arts. For people who are Deaf or hard of hearing, please call TTY (323) 848-6496. For up-to-date news and events, follow the City of West Hollywood on social media @WeHoCity and sign up for news updates at www.weho.org/email.