THE JOURNAL OF ARTS MANAGEMENT, LAW, AND SOCIETY 2020, VOL. 50, NO. 6, 319–334 https://doi.org/10.1080/10632921.2020.1845890 A Networked Infrastructure of Cultural Equity? Social Identities in the Missions of Local Arts Agencies Rachel Skaggs The Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio KEYWORDS ABSTRACT Cultural equity; mission Increasing attention to cultural equity in the arts focuses on the statements; local arts power of the arts to address social inequity. Many also recognize agencies; social networks; that arts organizations must attend to these issues in their organiza- policy networks; arts tional practices in order to promote equity and disrupt historic organizations power structures. Local Arts Agencies’ (LAAs) structural position as key regranters of federal and local funds makes them a key site of inquiry into the sector’s approach to cultural equity. This research asks: How is attention to individual social identity dimensions of cul- tural equity patterned in mission statements of LAAs? Of the 55 LAAs analyzed, 26 have a mission statement that includes attention to cultural equity, and of these, 17 list specific social identity groups to which they attend. Empirically, the article presents network visual- izations and tabled co-occurrences of social identities toward the goal of understanding the clustering of social identity in the missions of LAAs. This study contributes to understanding how LAAs are con- sidering identity-specific dimensions of equity in the missions of their organizations, trends in the patterning of these priorities, and identify the structural underpinnings of cultural equity in institutional priorities among LAAs in the United States. Introduction Recent federal and private funding priorities forward creative placemaking as a solution toward making communities more inclusive and vibrant (Bonin-Rodriguez 2015; Frenette 2017; Markusen and Gadwa 2010). Much research in the field has, in turn, focused on creative placemaking as the empirical site of analysis for understanding the proliferation of cultural equity in the arts and attention to including and promoting the interests of underrepresented groups in local communities. Despite this emphasis on analyzing arts-based initiatives in scholarship and arts-based programming in commun- ities, structural problems require structural solutions, so attention is needed to develop a more nuanced understanding of organizational structures that will foster cultural equity as an ongoing priority. Turning toward analyses of how cultural equity is defined and prioritized across key organizations within local communities will begin to CONTACT Rachel Skaggs firstname.lastname@example.org The Ohio State University, 1813 North High Street, 231 Sullivant Hall, Columbus, OH 43210, USA. 2020 The Author(s). Published with license by Taylor and Francis Group, LLC This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/), which permits non-commercial re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited, and is not altered, transformed, or built upon in any way. 320 R. SKAGGS complement the robust body of research on creative placemaking and related program- matic efforts toward promoting cultural equity. Americans for the Arts (AFTA) has championed the cause of cultural equity in the arts in recent years. They present the following definition of the concept: Cultural equity embodies the values, policies, and practices that ensure that all people— including but not limited to those who have been historically underrepresented based on race/ethnicity, age, disability, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, socioeconomic status, geography, citizenship status, or religion—are represented in the development of arts policy; the support of artists; the nurturing of accessible, thriving venues for expression; and the fair distribution of programmatic, financial, and informational resources. (Americans for the Arts 2016, italics added) Their commitment to cultural equity is framed in, “support of a full creative life for all,” and the organization, “commits to championing policies and practices,” toward this commitment. The AFTA definition of cultural equity specifically notes that a reason they are committed to equitable practices is so that “all people” are represented in arts policy. AFTA defines equity broadly but then identifies eleven specific social identities on which they specifically focus because of these groups’ historical underrepresentation in the field of arts and culture. AFTA’s role in the field involves advocating for issues, like cultural equity, at the national level, but Local Arts Agencies (LAAs) enact their own values, policies, and practices on a local level. The most visible work of LAAs in their local communities is likely to center on practices like the programming and engagement efforts that fill LAAs’ calendars and involve interacting with their communities to facilitate arts educa- tion, participatory and collective artmaking, or staging arts events that the community is invited to attend. What is less visible but potentially more important for LAAs in their efforts toward cultural equity is their structural commitment to cultural equity as evidenced by their values and policies. The written bureaucracy that organizes LAAs, e.g., their policies and other official writings, are the structure that ultimately facilitates programming priorities. How then are LAAs attending to cultural equity in their official policies to ensure that “all people” are included? To provide an initial inquiry into this question, I examine the mission statements of the 55 LAAs that comprise AFTA’s United Arts Funds members to account for whether they attend to cultural equity and, if so, to what (if any) social identities they commit in their mission statements. Mission statements are, for some organizations, a primary impetus toward strategic goals, while other organizations consider them to be a routine artifact of bureaucracy that is not necessarily meaningful to their organization’s operation (Pandey, Kim, and Pandey 2017). Still other research shows that formal mission statements do not always give an accurate view of an organization’s mission, rather they are a socially-constructed interpretation that guides organizational practices (Berlan 2018) and that might even make an organization too rigid to adapt to changes (Bartkus, Glassman, and McAfee 2000). Despite the potential for differing functions of mission statements across organi- zations, they are a common piece of organizational information that can be used as a high-level indicator of organizational attention to particular themes. LAAs, though individually defined by geography and regional histories (Cornfield et al. 2018), are collectively linked to one another through their common purpose and membership in larger regional and national communities of LAAs. Though not THE JOURNAL OF ARTS MANAGEMENT, LAW, AND SOCIETY 321 accountable to one another directly, LAAs may see one another as their reference group, as their work is known within their organizational community. In practice, this means that the work of one LAA might inspire another to take on similar priorities, programming, or policy given that LAAs see themselves as one among a field of simi- larly situated organizations. Given the context of the field of LAAs in the United States, I ask whether there is a shared infrastructure for cultural equity among those LAAs that are committed to this issue. That is, I ask whether attention to specific social identities toward the goal of promoting cultural equity is patterned according to common path- ways or linkages. To address this question, I seek to identify whether social identities are separated into distinct networked-linked webs of social identities that are included in the equity-focused missions of LAAs. If attention to social identity dimensions of cul- tural equity is indeed a networked phenomenon, we would expect to find that certain dimensions of social identities appear as a web, woven together according to com- mon linkages. Following the empirical analysis of this question, I speak to the importance of under- standing the structure and shape of attention to particular social identities for the fur- ther promotion of a cultural equity framework among LAAs. The implications of this research support the idea that codifying commitment to cultural equity and to attending to particular social identities as important for prioritizing and financing cultural equity practice within organizations. As key regranters of federal arts funding, LAAs and their missions are important parts of the arts ecosystem in the United States. Network ana- lysis of links between mission statements is relatively novel in arts research, but the implications of the network study speak to a potential opportunity structure for pro- moting the development of a robust “networked infrastructure” of cultural equity that is supported by attention to specific constituencies served by LAAs. Knowing which social identities are linked to one another presents an opportunity for LAAs to assess which identities might be linked together to create a tipping point toward equity and inclusiv- ity within their organizational mission and priorities. As a tool for inquiry and policy scholarship, the network approach is promising for future research, particularly toward a macro view of policy learning processes. Background Mission statements reflect organizational culture, core values, and strategies (Law and Breznik 2018) and enhance organizational performance as a strategic management tool (Macedo, Pinho, and Silva 2016). However, the effect of mission statements on what organizations actually do is complex (Patel et al. 2015), and organizations’ mission state- ments might not be reflective of their actions and policies (Bartkus and Glassman 2008). Mission statements have been critiqued for not connecting with the customer perspective or the needs of those who might want to use the statements to connect with an organization when the mission statement might actually be a good tool of building an emotional connection with customers (David, David, and David 2014). According to David, David, and David (2014), mission statements that consider the customer perspec- tive in their conception of the mission are better able to identify the value that their organization brings to their customers. Bartkus and Glassman (2008) find that 322 R. SKAGGS organizations which include diversity efforts in their mission statements do follow through with policies and actions that promote diversity, though this research was con- ducted on a sample of for-profit firms. In the case of arts organizations, the way that an organization identifies the value of art (e.g., Lena 2019) and the goals of a LAA in regranting to their constituencies in support of the arts will be important for whether they approach their work with an equity-focused mission and attention to social identity. Cultural equity in the arts The conversation among scholars, policymakers, and arts administrators around cultural equity has developed primarily over the past two decades, with increasing attention in the past ten years. Attention toward equity, diversity, and inclusion, particularly within organizations, is not unique to the field of arts and culture, but the field has generated a particularly rich body of writing and practices committed to these linked issues. Of particular note are the national funding initiatives ArtPlace America and Our Town that have responded to and shaped the discussion around community embedded cre- ative placemaking efforts and attention to benchmark arts participation measures and amendments to the SPPA that center arts participation more broadly than only in refer- ence to the benchmark arts measures (Novak-Leonard et al. 2014, 2015). Arts organizations are historically spaces that reify the values and tastes of the hege- monic majority (e.g., Lena 2019), so it is not surprising that cultural equity in this field includes efforts toward equitable participation, inclusion, and valuing artistic works, tastes, contributions, and ideas from people who are members of historically underre- presented groups. Even when overt discrimination is being addressed in and among arts organizations, structural and implicit biases and discrimination are persistent (Heidelberg 2019; Gupta 2015). Toward the importance of addressing bias and exclusion of historically excluded communities, Jackson, Herranz, and Kabwasa-Green (2003) say that even defining what counts as art, culture, and creativity depends on community members and their preferences. They go on from the general notion of values, preferen- ces, and realities for community members to promoting specific social identities of indi- viduals and groups who have been historically underrepresented: “Art, culture, and creativity at the neighborhood level include the cultural expressions of ethnic, racial, age, and special interest groups that may not be validated or adequately represented in mainstream cultural institutions” (Jackson et al. 2003, 2). In short, attention to and affirmation of social identity is key to promoting cultural equity in that members of groups with different affiliations to historically underrepresented social identities are also likely to be artistically underrepresented. As stated in the introduction, AFTA identifies eleven specific social groups because of these groups’ and their members’ historic underrepresentation in the values, priorities, and practices of arts organizations. The identities they list are: race/ethnicity, age, dis- ability, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, socioeconomic status, geography, citi- zenship status, or religion. To be sure, the organization states that this is not an inclusive set of all groups that have been underrepresented in developing arts policy, but it is a set of identities that is useful as an initial framework for inquiry into the THE JOURNAL OF ARTS MANAGEMENT, LAW, AND SOCIETY 323 issue of social identities as central to the promotion of cultural equity in arts organizations. Movement toward centering cultural equity does not end at the national level, as local and regional initiatives are the site of a number of innovations and developments in this space. It follows that cultural assets and contributions to cultural vitality should be defined by their community around salient, significant issues in everyday life relating to art and culture (Jackson, Kabwasa-Green, and Herranz 2006; Novak-Leonard et al. 2015). The “local” of LAAs is particularly important in these organizations’ ability to focus on cultural equity in ways that are relevant to the demographics, history, and needs of their community. Local arts organizations move toward cultural equity Though focused on State Arts Agencies (SAAs) rather than LAAs, Lowell (2004) identi- fies a populist turn in the priorities of arts agencies beginning in the 1970s. The report notes that many SAAs decentralized their organizational structures to favor more local organizations, changed their programming to target minority ethnic groups and rural communities, expanded attention to community-based artists, and increased support for art education. While critics of SAAs in the 1990s thought that the narrower scope of focus and local perspectives were a negative in comparison to the NEA, their narrower domain allows for them to, “understand and support their state’s ethnic, racial, or sub- cultural artistic expressions, even if these are seen as marginal or provisional by the mainstream” (Love 1991, 218). Likewise, LAAs have an even narrower scope and can focus on specific municipal contexts and respond to changing demographics and prior- ities in their communities more nimbly than can state and national organizations. Though scholarship has not focused on cultural equity in arts organizations until more recently, Lynch’s(1992) article shows that the arts administration field was well aware of the role that LAAs play in cultural equity decades ago. In response to the expansion of federal regranting of arts dollars to LAAs, Lynch said, “I am convinced that the change is in the right direction. First, public money reaches into new, under- served areas and works toward a more equitable access to the arts. It helps create the opportunity to encourage creativity everywhere in the United States” (Lynch 1992, 39). Indeed, regranting is seen as a key reason that LAAs have such high potential as bur- eaucratic organizations that can support local cultural interests (Dorn 1995). LAAs can be municipal agencies or nonprofits, with most being divisions or offices within larger municipal agencies (Mankin et al. 2006; Mulcahy 2002). Dorn comments on LAAs and their work to “address social problems, such as racism and substance abuse” that accompanied a paradigm shift from LAAs as arts presenters to their role in the “delivery of a community cultural product” (Dorn 1995, 183). The cultural product that LAAs deliver is consistently revised according to community need and budget availability, and their programming takes on a wide variety of forms. Lynch underscores LAAs’ programmatic depth, saying that they, “are key in ensuring cultural diversity and equity, providing technical assistance to artists and arts organizations, managing cultural facilities, engaging in community cultural planning, initiating international exchange and collaborations, and contributing to school curriculum design” (Lynch 1992, 39). 324 R. SKAGGS LAAs and the people who run them are central to whether an equity mission becomes a priority. In 1987, Paul DiMaggio examined attitudes toward the missions of arts organizations, and of the most important characteristics to board members, none explicitly focus on equity. This is not surprising, since the word and concept are charac- teristic of current policy and rhetoric, not that of the 1980s. Of the survey items included, two items reflect what DiMaggio calls “concern with pluralism and social goals,” which are most closely related to the equity-focus of the current study (DiMaggio 1987, 81). The two items are: commitment to education and outreach and representativeness of the community’s racial and ethnic groups. Twenty years later, a study of executive directors of LAAs showed a more administrative than equity-specific focus. When asked about what others should do to prepare for leadership as the execu- tive director for a LAA, “civic involvement important” (5.9%) was the characteristic most in line with a cultural equity mindset in leadership. Most other advice categories centered on bureaucratic skills (e.g., “communication skills” (5.9%), “study public administration” (11.8%), “learn to delegate” (5.9%), or interest and experience in the arts (e.g., “need passion for the arts” (23.5%), “be an artist first” (11.8%) (Mankin et al. 2006, 101). Linking individual identities and organizational missions Rather than organizations like LAAs being independent in terms of their programming, policies, and values, they know of one another and exist as each other’s reference groups, that is, comparable peer groups to which individuals or organizations may com- pare themselves (Turner 1956). In Paul DiMaggio’s writings about arts administrators, he points out that they attend conferences to “develop their professional skills and extend their professional networks,” and additionally engage in their occupational com- munity through professional reading of relevant arts-related periodicals and by main- taining close friendships with professional colleagues (DiMaggio 1987, 56). For LAAs, the larger ecosystem or landscape includes membership in national organizations like AFTA, but relationships are also forged through employees moving from a job at one LAA to another, shared alumni status from the same higher education program, and, as DiMaggio notes, attendance at regional and national conferences. Just as these people and organizations have a shared network ecology in their per- sonal and professional lives, so too does the policy, programming, and priorities that the organizations make. The policy learning framework asserts that particular ideas and practices diffuse through a variety of means amongst members of policy-making com- munities, though the degree to which any policy will take hold depends on myriad fac- tors, including the networks structure of the community of interest (Bennett and Howlett 1992; Stone 1999; Moyson, Scholten, and Weible 2017). This process is surely happening between LAAs to some degree as they expand and refine their organizational bureaucracies to account for the shift toward cultural equity. Due to the shared network ecology of LAAs and their staff members, the programming, policy, and priorities of one LAA is likely to be affected by that of other LAAs in the network. For example, when an LAA in Maine finds out about an effective program that an LAA in Louisiana has undertaken, Maine may implement a similar program. It is because of the THE JOURNAL OF ARTS MANAGEMENT, LAW, AND SOCIETY 325 knowledge and information embedded in the network that Maine was able to develop the program. A synthesis of the previous scholarship leads us to assume that as cultural equity has emerged as a priority in the arts and culture field in the US that it would have diffused through policy networks or among LAAs that consider one another as part of their ref- erence group, but what is the result of this process? I ask to what degree cultural equity has emerged as part of the explicit mission statements of LAAs, if there is a cultural equity policy infrastructure, and how social identity dimensions of cultural equity are patterned among the LAAs that focus on a cultural equity mission. Data and analytic strategy The data for this article were collected as part of the Cornfield et al. (2018) study from November 2017–March 2018. As a member of the research team for that project, I con- tributed to developing a coding framework and subsequently coding the websites of the 55 LAAs that are affiliates of AFTA’s United Arts Funds. Members of the United Arts Funds have the primary function of raising and regranting funds to arts and culture groups within their municipality. We collaboratively developed a coding framework on which to assess each LAA’s digital presence inclusive of: mission statement and about page, explicit diversity policy, front-page general descriptive text, prominently displayed programmatic content, and operating budget. We did not code digital content deemed ephemeral (e.g., social media posts, calendar events), as we were looking to assess prom- inent information that the LAA chose to present in a more permanent digital structure or official document. Initial interrater reliability between the team’s five coders was 80%, and we subsequently conducted two rounds of coding reconciliation in which the group came to total agreement. In this process, each coder amended his or her discrep- ant score after independently finding the information on an LAA website that they had missed or miscoded in earlier iterations of the coding process. Methodologically, this article takes the previous content analysis described above and applies network analytic techniques to the data. Similar empirical methods have been used to examine the networked properties of mission statements using data from con- tent analysis (Breznik and Law 2019; Law and Breznik 2018). The study of networks is a broadly applicable theory and method for understanding the patterned occurrences of phenomena as diverse as neurons, friendships, smoking behaviors, and happiness (McPherson, Smith-Lovin, and Cook 2001; Watts and Strogatz 1998; Fowler and Christakis 2008; Mercken et al. 2010). Network analysis often takes place in a “one- mode” analysis that examines the ties between a group of actors (e.g., friendship ties, collaboration ties). Alternatively, a “two-mode” analysis shows the relationships between one group of actors (the first mode) through their shared membership, attendance, or affiliation with another thing (the second mode). Examples of two-mode network stud- ies include analyses of people (first mode) who attended the same parties (second mode) or a group of students (first mode) and the classes they sign up for in a given semester (second mode) (Borgatti, Everett, and Johnson 2013). Collapsing a two-mode study into a one-mode study then shows the extent to which members of the group of interest are tied to one another on the basis of their affiliation with the second mode 326 R. SKAGGS Table 1. Frequency of occurrences of social identities in the missions of 17 local arts agencies that attend to social identity dimensions of cultural equity. Social identity Frequency Race 11 Age 10 Ability 10 Socioeconomic status 9 LGBT 9 Gender 8 Ethnicity 8 Religion 5 Citizenship 4 Gender identity 4 Language 1 Appearance 1 variable, though they may not know one another or engage with one another frequently. This paper uses a two-mode analysis approach to first show how LAAs (first mode) are linked to social identity groups (second mode) and then uses a one-mode approach to represent the ties between the modes. This particular method of collapsing a two-mode network of actors (e.g., LAAs) and events (e.g., attention to social identities) into a one- mode network of ties is at the forefront of understanding patterns in society (see e.g., Anderson 2017). Toward the purpose of this article, mapping the networked patterns of attention toward specific social identities in the missions of LAAs, I created a two-mode network visualization of LAAs and the social identities they attend to in their mission statements or prominent text on their “About” page of their website that indicated the organiza- tion’s mission and approach. Next, I collapsed the two-mode network into a series of two one-mode networks, thereby representing the pathways by which different social identities are linked through the cultural equity missions of LAAs. This visual, descrip- tive approach is meant to provide initial inquiry into the structure of equity across LAAs. Findings As established in Cornfield et al. (2018) research using this data, 26 LAAs have a mis- sion statement that includes cultural equity, and of these LAAs, 17 implicate at least one specific social identity in their mission statements. Table 1 shows the occurrence of each of the 12 social identity categories that appear in these 17 organizations’ mission statements. The proportional distribution of cultural equity missions across this sample of LAAs indicates that 47% do consider cultural equity as central to their mission. The 17 LAAs that do mention social identity as part of their commitment to cultural equity make up just over 30% of the sample of LAAs. A series of chi-square analyses showed that the 17 LAAs that do mention social identity in their mission statements do not dif- fer from the 38 that do not in terms of their status as a government entity or nonprofit or in terms of having a population above 500,000 or above 1,000,000 people. At this point in the analysis, I will shift focus away from the 29 LAAs that do not have an equity mission and away from the 9 LAAs that do have an equity mission but that do not attend to at least one social identity group in their mission. THE JOURNAL OF ARTS MANAGEMENT, LAW, AND SOCIETY 327 Figure 1. Two-mode network visualization of local arts agencies and their attention to social identity groups in their mission statements. The LAAs include in their mission statements all but one (geography) of the social identity categories defined by AFTA, but they refer separately to race and ethnicity and add both language and appearance as other specified social identities, in total adding up to 12 social identity categories. The entire list of 12 social identities present in LAAs’ mission statements are, in order of frequency: race, age, ability, socioeconomic status (SES), LGBT, gender, ethnicity, religion, citizenship, gender identity, language, and appearance. Table 1 details the frequency distribution of the social identities. A key concern of this article is in assessing whether there is a networked infrastruc- ture of cultural equity among LAAs that is created by patterned attention to particular social identities. To investigate this question, I examine the co-occurrences of social identities across LAAs. Figure 1 shows a two-mode network visualization of LAAs (circles; numbered rather than named, to preserve anonymity) tied to the social identity groups that they mention in their mission statements (squares). The shape of the network diagram is organized using an algorithm generated by UCINET, a social network analytic software, based on the pattern of ties between LAAs and social identities. The figure shows that some LAAs and social identities are closely linked and tied together into a dense web in the center of the figure while other LAAs and social identities are more peripheral in terms of their linkages to the central, dense center. This shape makes it apparent that the attention to the 12 social identities is uneven across the field of 17 LAAs. Were attention to particular social identities uni- form, we would see each LAA mention each social identity and the shape of the figure resembling a ring or wreath, but this is not the case. Likewise, none of the LAAs attend to each of the 12 social identities, indicating that there is no one leader or agenda setter among the LAAs when it comes to cultural equity missions. Taken together, these inferences from the two-mode network visualization show that there is unevenness in the giving of attention to social identities (since no LAA attends to 328 R. SKAGGS Table 2. Combinations of social identity categories in local arts agencies’ missions. Frequency Combination of social identities 3 Race 2 Age 2 Race, Age, Gender, SES, LGBT, Ability, Citizenship, Religion, Ethnicity 1 Race, Age, Gender,SES,LGBT, Ability, Citizenship, Religion,Ethnicity,Gender Identity, Language,Appearance 1 Race, Age, Gender, SES, LGBT, Ability, Citizenship, Religion, Ethnicity, Gender Identity 1 Race, Age, Gender, SES, LGBT, Ability, Religion, Ethnicity 1 Race, Age, Gender, SES, LGBT, Ability, Gender Identity 1 Race, SES, LGBT, Ability, Ethnicity, Gender Identity 1 Race, Gender, SES, LGBT, Ability, Ethnicity 1 Race, Age, Gender, SES, Ability, Ethnicity 1 Race, Gender, LGBT, Citizenship, Religion 1 Age, SES, LGBT, Ability, Ethnicity 1 Age, Ability Figure 2. One-mode network visualization of co-occurrences of social identity groups in the equity missions of local arts agencies. each social identity group) and in the receiving of attention (since no one social identity receives attention from each LAA). Figure 1 shows that five LAAs only attend to one social identity group, most LAAs mention only a few of the social identities, and two LAAs men- tion a disproportionately large selection of social identities. To bring this into clearer detail, Table 2 details the combinations of social identities by frequency of occurrence in LAA mis- sion statements. Beyond these initial findings, it is necessary to further transform the data into a series of one-mode network visualizations for further insights. Following the two-mode network visualization presented in Figure 1, the set of two one- mode network visualizations in Figures 2 and 3 show the links between social identity groups across the missions of LAAs and the links between LAAs based on their shared atten- tion to particular social identity groups, respectively. The visualizations also indicate the strength of ties between social identities and between LAAs. Identity groups in Figure 2 that are more frequently linked to one another in terms of the number of LAAs that attend to THE JOURNAL OF ARTS MANAGEMENT, LAW, AND SOCIETY 329 Figure 3. One-mode network visualization of links between local arts agencies through attention to social identities. both social identities are indicated as such with a thicker line. Likewise, in Figure 3, LAAs that have a higher number of social identities in common are tied to one another with a heavier line. Linkages that are less frequent in the data are indicated by a thinner line. Note that in each of these two figures, there are no isolates, that is, no one social identity or LAA is disconnected from the larger network. In both figures, there is only one component, that is, only one structure, which links together all of the nodes in the networks. Even of the LAAs that only attend to one social dimension of cultural equity, they are linked to other LAAs in the network through the crossing of ties, which in each case creates a densely linked structure that appears to weave the field together. In Figure 2, there are 12 social identity nodes tied together by 132 ties. The ties repre- sent linkages due to LAAs, the reciprocal of the network shown in Figure 2. These links show the web of connectivity between social identities, giving insight into the way that concepts are commonly connected across mission statements. The average degree central- ity in the network is 11, as all nodes are linked to one another by at least one co-occur- rence in the mission statements of LAAs. Despite the fact that each node is connected to each other node, some nodes are connected fewer times; the lighter lines leading to citi- zenship, language, gender identity, and appearance, for example, show that these are con- nected to other social identities less frequently than are social identities like race and age. Figure 3 shows a network with 17 LAA nodes and 234 ties linking the nodes together. Among these linkages, there is an average degree centrality of 13.77, meaning that each of the LAAs represented by the nodes are tied to an average of just under 14 other LAAs by virtue of their mutual attention to social identities. These linkages allow us to see how tightly the field of LAAs are connected. The connectedness, representing mutual attention to social identities is visible in the heavier lines connecting nodes that are more centrally located in the figure. The high degree of connectedness between these LAAs indicated that they are likely to be leaders in the arena of cultural equity, at least in terms of their structural approach to encoding equity into their organizational missions. 330 R. SKAGGS We see in the figures that LAAs and social identities are linked into an interrelated field, but which social identities cluster together in this data? When it comes to distinct patterning of LAAs’ attention to social identity groups there are three collective patterns and ten unique combinations of social identities. First is a set of three LAAs that only attend to race. Second is a set of two LAAs that only attend to age. Third is a set of two LAAs that attended to race, age, gender, SES, LGBT, ability, citizenship, religion, ethnicity. The ten remaining LAAs were unique in the combination of social identities to which they attended. Despite the count of direct overlap between social identities in the missions of LAAs, the network evidence indicates the potential strength of there not being uniform atten- tion to social groups. This strengthens evidence for a networked infrastructure toward cultural equity since alone the distribution of LAAs is not patterned into only a few approaches to attending to the identity dimensions of cultural equity. In aggregate we uncover a densely connected web that gets closer to intentionally including groups that have been marginalized than any one LAA alone does. Discussion What are the implications of mapping attention to dimensions of cultural equity across LAAs? If LAAs see one another as their reference groups from one LAA to another, perhaps they would be open to seeing the field as a whole as their reference group. The fact that there is uneven application of social identity groups in the missions of LAAs provides many potential resources, approaches, and experiences from across the United States that could strategically come together to build a stronger infrastructure for cul- tural equity in the arts. Since there is no one codified approach to who counts in our efforts to include “all people” in the values, policies, and practices of LAAs, there is still an opportunity to amend the field’s approach. It in inefficient and insufficient to only look toward a peer organization when considering how to promote cultural equity in local communities, and attending to the field’s networked infrastructure of cultural equity would give a more complete picture to organizations working toward this goal. The network visualizations show that there are a variety of linkages and co-occur- rences that weave an interconnected web of attention to social identity dimensions of equity. So though no LAA attends to each social identity, each organization is no more than 1–2 “steps” from another LAA which does attend to each other social dimension of cultural equity. Though the web of cultural equity appears densely woven, remember that the 17 LAAs that attend to a particular social identity in their equity-focused mis- sion statements are part of a larger sample of LAAs, of which 9 attend to cultural equity themes but do not list particular social identities in their missions and 29 that do not have a cultural equity theme at all in their organizational mission. Conclusion This article takes a macro view of cultural equity mission statements, using a network methodology to discern co-occurrences of social identities that group together among LAAs. The analytical leverage that I apply in this analysis is toward establishing the THE JOURNAL OF ARTS MANAGEMENT, LAW, AND SOCIETY 331 underlying structure that will support cultural equity in the arts within the United States. As engines and hubs for nonprofit arts and artists in cities, LAAs, and implicitly, their missions, set the tone for the direction and purpose of arts in their communities. Cities with LAAs focused on a mission of cultural equity might be expected to make different choices about investors, public space, and community engagement than might a city with an LAA that is more focused on community engagement, tourism, or on managing arts facilities. Pulling attention toward greater understanding of LAAs and their role in cultural equity in local communities enhances our understanding of the role that LAAs hold. The implications of this analysis are pulled into clearer focus when considering the sample from which this data was collected. The AFTA United Arts Funds member LAAs are key regranters within the larger field of Local Arts Agencies in the United States. As the connector of federal and state arts dollars to local commun- ities, they are a keystone in the national arts field. Because of the structure of arts funding in the US, most public art funding that impacts local communities and programs is funneled through LAAs. Thus, the missions and funding priorities of LAAs are important on both a local and national scope. Given the important structural roles that LAAs play in the arts landscape and the number and dispersion of them across the United States, there is rich potential for LAAs as a site of scholarly research and policy intervention. Following the extensive work of Maria Rosario Jackson and her colleagues (e.g., Jackson, Herranz, and Kabwasa-Green 2003; Jackson, Kabwasa-Green, and Herranz 2006), there is potential for cultural equity indi- cator development at the LAA level, particularly as they would contribute to a frame- work for understanding how identity-based dimensions of cultural equity might map out the opportunity structure for policymakers, LAAs, and other arts organizations to consider opportunities for creating a more expansive and inclusive framework for cul- tural equity. Subsequently, such an expanded mission statement would provide the structural framework for shifting funding and programmatic decisions toward cultural equity. Understanding how to shape these toward relevant dimensions of cultural equity are key to prioritizing funds and efforts toward community groups and constituents. Despite efforts to be inclusive through funding initiatives, programmatic attention to art from and for a diverse citizenry, and pushes toward hiring and maintaining arts workforces that support diversity, equity, and inclusion as vital to strong organizations, cultural equity is not ubiquitous in the missions of LAAs. The result of not encoding cultural equity into organizations means that efforts toward equity will be unevenly dis- tributed within organizations, and those working toward it are likely to be people from underrepresented backgrounds. For example, scholarship on Women of Color arts lead- ers, people in relatively structurally powerful positions in their own fields, shows that the invisible burden that comes from the intersection of their social identities often neg- ates their voices in the institutions and programs that they are meant to lead (Acuff, Lopez, and Wilson 2019). It cannot be the role of funded artist grantees, community programming participants, or even LAA employees from historically underrepresented backgrounds to bring cultural equity to the arts. Rather, we must understand that organizations themselves must be restructured to reflect cultural equity. This research is just a beginning to further inquiry on the topic of LAAs’ commit- ment to cultural equity from an organizational and networks perspective. As such, it 332 R. SKAGGS has limitations. Chiefly, one might wonder if a particular LAA is doing equity-focused programming, does it matter that their mission statements do not codify this commit- ment? Indeed, it is likely that changing a mission statement to reflect new organiza- tional commitments, like one to promoting cultural equity, would not be codified until after it is actually part of an organization’s practices. As such, it is likely that this research undercounts the proliferation of cultural equity as a priority among LAAs. Despite this caveat, it stands that the work of eliminating structural bias should be reflected in organizations’ guiding principles and documents. Despite more organiza- tions potentially enacting equity-promoting practices and programming in their com- munities, a commitment to cultural equity will be more solid and long-lasting if codified in organizational policies that would subsequently guide decisions around fund- ing, board membership, community programming, and strategic planning. Based on literature from the field (e.g., Americans for the Arts 2016), we can say that the attention to defining and prioritizing cultural equity in the missions of LAAs is grounded in a larger moment in the arts field. Future research should seek to develop a predictive model that accounts for which LAAs are most likely to support cultural equity missions and what organizational predictors contribute to LAAs being more or less likely to adopt an equity-focused mission. Likewise, it is essential to couple this quantitative approach with theoretically-grounded qualitative inquiry into the drivers of cultural equity within particular LAAs. Understanding internal organizational impetus and field-wide predictors that contribute to the adoption of a cultural equity mission will give policymakers, LAA leaders, and scholars further footholds toward developing consistent and effective organizational structures to support cultural equity in the arts. Cultural equity, particularly attention to structural racism, is now in the forefront of conversation in the United States. Following the 2020 protests and expansion of the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement, organizations that had not been responsive to BLM and other such equity and structural inequality-focused movements are now being forced to publicly recon with their stance on entrenched bias. 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"The Journal of Arts Management, Law, and Society"
– Taylor & Francis
Published: Nov 1, 2020
Keywords: Cultural equity; mission statements; local arts agencies; social networks; policy networks; arts organizations