Increasingly, museums, theaters, and other cultural institutions across the US face growing critique from communities they aim to serve. The questions are wide-ranging, including what art is presented, by whom, and for what audience. Also being questioned are funding ecosystems that skew both public and private resources toward large, Eurocentric institutions while chronically underinvesting in organizations led by and serving people of color. Questions are being raised too about why art collections, artistic staff, and endowments often are prioritized over direct service to community, and why regional and national marketing to affluent audiences often gets more attention than addressing economic and social distress in the art institutions’ own neighborhoods.
For institutions that have historically enjoyed a certain level of prestige, these calls for reexamination of (and accountability for) their charitable purposes may be disorienting. For some, the impulse might be to retreat further, to protect their reputations and their leadership, to ride this out. But we hope this will be a time of honest soul-searching that will ultimately leave arts organizations far b