About Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Accessibility (DEIA) at moCa

March 2021

The Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland (moCa) has served this city and its surrounding communities for 52 years. Supporting artists and serving communities ground this museum, which has been entrusted to uplift and advance the inspiration, curiosity, creativity, and thought leadership of contemporary art. For years, countless artists, staff, board, donors, and community members have striven to make moCa a welcoming, supportive, inclusive organization, with myriad examples of growth and success. Events have revealed, however, that the museum continues to fall short of realizing the values of equity that create an authentic space for all to belong. 

As we lean into 2021, moCa is looking back and looking ahead. This includes acknowledging that white privilege, systemic and structural racism, and bias have influenced moCa’s cultural and operational norms and impacted artists and audiences, particularly Black, Indigenous, and People of Color. We are taking responsibility to undo those negative influences. moCa also is pushing into alternate ways of working and being together that can help collectively shape a new future. In focusing on the work of healing, repair, and transformation, moCa seeks to address and eliminate exclusionary and harmful practices and move forward in just collaboration with artists and community. 

Some of the things that have happened so far include: 
  • Engaging the strategic change consulting firm PPICW to guide moCa’s process and help chart a path to a responsible culture that foregrounds diversity, equity, inclusion, accessibility (DEIA), and anti-racism 
  • Forming a joint staff and board steering committee to lead this work across every aspect of moCa’s culture 
  • Shifting and centering moCa’s internal conversations and external engagement on broadening collaboration and input, sharing power, and creating space and opportunities to elevate diverse, historically marginalized voices and practices 
  • Developing new initiatives such as the Education and Engagement Committee, artist residency programs, and regional curatorial partnerships in an effort to expand equitable access to, and influence on, moCa’s program and culture. These build upon moCa’s pre-existing Open House initiatives designed to enhance diversity and inclusion through engagement, staffing, and communications 
Some of the things that lie just ahead are: 
  • Finalizing and sharing moCa’s specific short- and mid-term DEIA goals, commitments, and benchmarks with the community 
  • Continuing to revise and update policies and procedures in areas such as HR, governance, and communications that help to mitigate bias, expand access, and center equity in its operations 
  • Increasing the representation of marginalized groups in all facets of the museum, particularly in areas of leadership and content creation 

Across the Board of Directors, the staff, and all who play a role in this creative community, moCa is committed to change; to root out oppressive biases and behaviors, and to work in step with the heartbeat of Cleveland. It is only through the support of artists and audiences that moCa exists. This community is our primary point of accountability and moCa’s focus as it works to rebuild trust and walk out the concept of equity day by day. 

We welcome your feedback. Please reach out to community@mocacleveland.org

DEIA Steering Committee Members:

Arlester Tate-El (Security Coordinator), Amy Cronauer (Interim Director of Development), Audra T. Jones (Board Member), Dick Cahoon (Board Member), Larry Oscar (Board President), Megan Lykins Reich (Interim Executive Director), Sheila Brown (Accounting Manager) 


 

May 11, 2021

moCa's ongoing DEIA work

In summer 2020, as a full staff and board, moCa made a commitment to undertake the critical work of centering equity throughout the organization. For nearly a year, moCa’s Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility (DEIA) journey has continued in earnest. This work is not new to us. However, our investment is far deeper now, with an unwavering promise to its expression in every facet of our organization. 
 
To connect you with our work and invite your feedback, our DEIA Steering Committee (more information below) will update you on how this work is expressing itself at moCa, what we are learning, and what kinds of changes you might note or feel in your engagement now and in the future.
 

New approaches to working and being together 

Who’s involved?

moCa’s full staff and board are engaged in this journey, but our DEIA Steering Committee drives us forward. Board members Audra T. Jones, Dick Cahoon, and Larry Oscar work alongside staff members Arlester Tate-El, Amy Cronauer, Sheila Brown, and Megan Lykins Reich. We meet regularly with PPICW (more below), who has been facilitating this internal work for the past year. Our work is comprehensive, from reviewing and addressing specific DEIA issues to auditing and updating policies and procedures to better center equity at moCa.
 
DEIA steering committee member Sheila Brown, moCa’s Accounting Manager, reflects, “This committee has empowered me and others to use our voices and experiences towards good change. We talk through very difficult issues with respect, openness, and mutual support. We are a true team. Our work is making a positive impact.”

Who’s collaborating?

In summer 2020, moCa hired the Atlanta-based, Black women-led firm PPICW, Inc. to support our holistic work. PPICW brings expertise in DEIA strategic change, applying broad experience, best practices, and fresh ideas from various sectors to our work. The Steering Committee meets weekly with PPICW to advance our DEIA roadmap. We will highlight other important participants in our work in future communications.

What’s happening?

A lot, but not everything is obvious “from the outside.” Much of our work so far has been internally-focused: unpacking racist or biased practices, identifying baselines to set goals against, and piloting new equity-focused practices. A key goal in this journey is to expand representation throughout the museum, but especially in areas of leadership and governance. Some examples include:

  • Creating space and time for authentic exchange: We have adapted meeting styles, revised planning cycles, and shifted calendars and timelines to allow more time and space to plan thoughtfully together. Potential goals and challenges are shared and discussed in teams. Weekly, collaboratively-run staff meetings and quarterly board meetings regularly include open discussions about racism, bias, inequity, and how to build a DEIA roadmap using best practices. Work groups open to all interested staff members give space and time to dive deeper into specific topics like equitable artist engagement or land acknowledgments. New long form residencies provide extended time for artist engagement and exchange.

  • Revising core practices, like recruitment: Our new staff recruitment process slows down, increases transparency in salary and work culture, includes collaborative input for shaping job descriptions and interviewing, broadens and deepens outreach with particular attention to diverse candidate pools, integrates redacted resume review and screening to lessen bias, applies universal design principles in communications, and emphasizes objective, measurable approaches in group interviews and assessments to ensure that all candidates are supported for success in the interview process.

  • Adapting our planning and decision making processes: Soon, moCa will share exciting news about our new Artist-in-Residency (AIR) program. This program’s review process was designed to be equity- and accessibility-focused. Including external participants from our local communities and open to all staff, the review team collaboratively selected the resident artists and made additional recommendations for how to expand the program to make it more immersive and supportive.

 
moCa is committed to working with artists, partners, and community members to address systemic racism in art and culture. Because this work involves holistic shifts, both successes and challenges are expected. Criticism is an important part of growth and it is taken seriously. How we respond to concerns and deficits through constructive actions is what matters. We will continue to update you on our plans and results. If you would like to provide feedback directly to the DEIA Steering Committee, please email us at community@mocacleveland.org.
 
We look forward to continuing to share and work together with you.
 

—moCa's DEIA Steering Committee