RAMA’s Ongoing Progress Report of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility (DEIA) Efforts
Institutional Focus on Craft
Since 1990, when Racine Art Museum Association, Inc. (RAMA)’s Wustum Museum decided to focus 40-50% of its efforts on collecting and exhibiting works in craft media, the general operating principle has been one of accessibility. Theoretically, even to this day, craft is not wholeheartedly accepted as a viable framework for creative endeavors in all corners of the art world. By choosing an emphasis on craft—in a state that has shown a strong interest in the approach and in a regional area that supports craft as a mode of handwork and as reflective of diverse ethnic backgrounds—RAMA establishes itself as a space that can support people and approaches that have been historically underrepresented and undervalued. Future endeavors can and should build on this perspective—not only addressing accessibility as a metaphor but further working to create spaces that are accessible in terms of race, socio-economic status, gender, and any other factor that impacts participation in a community.
The following is a listing of actions taken in most recent years that exemplify RAMA’s commitment to these efforts.
Collections and Exhibitions
Installation view of RAM Showcase: Objects
Photography: Tyler Potter
- Began an ongoing review of organizational language that addresses diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility.
- Began an ongoing internal audit regarding the heritage of artists in the collection. Will establish a statement that will be published on website collection pages regarding this process.
- Introduced signage that lists artists of color (as well as artists who identify as women who make up 41% of artists represented in the collection) whose works are included in each exhibition.
- Introduced portfolios (collections of images and information) on the website that highlight artists of color and artists who identify as women from the collection.
- Developed exhibitions programming that showcases artists of color including a semi-permanent “showcase” space at Wustum.
- RAM Showcase: Objects, open December 15, 2021 through May 28, 2022.
- Established an expanded and diverse pool of potential jurors for the RAM Artist Fellowship/Emerging Artist program and juried exhibitions.
- Began asking artists who participate in juried exhibitions to share if they identify as a person of color with the option of answering with yes, no, or prefer not to answer.
- Continued a commitment made in 2010 to pay interns who work on the permanent collection to make these positions accessible to broader groups of students.
- Drew from an expanded jury pool to employ two artists of color to select work for two separate Wustum exhibitions.
- Worked with University of Wisconsin-Parkside faculty on collaborative programming opportunities related to artists of color.
- Partnered with the Black Arts Council of Racine to organize Wustum exhibition, Cultural Reflections.
- Introduced internationally-known Haitian artist to local audiences via exhibition inclusion and outreach programming.
- Introduced black Chicago area artist to local audiences via exhibition inclusion and outreach programming and subsequently added his work to RAM’s collection.
- Established partnership with Art Bridges that allowed/will allow for expanded artist representation and outreach support for future exhibitions and programs.
- 24 of 42 social media posts produced by Exhibitions Department addressed artists of color.
- Added the work of seven artists of color to RAM’s collection via support of Windgate Foundation grant and newly established Artists of Color Acquisition Fund.
- Established an Artists of Color Acquisition Fund to acquire the work of artists of color for the collection, primarily of those not yet represented at RAM.
- Marketing Department developed a website page dedicated to the artists-of-color RAM Showcase exhibition series.
- Continued work on ongoing internal audit regarding the heritage of artists in the collection. Will establish a statement that will be published on website collection pages regarding this process.
- Continued spotlighting artists of color and women featured in exhibitions through separate signage.
- Continued RAM Showcase exhibition series—focused on highlighting and maintaining the presence of artists of color at both campuses.
- Continue ongoing review of organizational language that addresses diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility.
- Drawing on community response, modified the process for asking artists who participate in juried exhibitions about their heritage.
- Of the 232 individual artists whose works were shown at RAM in 2022 (so, primarily artists represented in the collection), 116 were women and 70 were artists of color. Of the 302 individual artists whose works were shown at Wustum in 2022 (so, primarily artists loaning works), 188 were women and 47 were artists of color.
Educational Programs and Outreach
RAM on the Road program
Photography: RAM Staff
- Focused on diverse artists in the collection and around the world through Outreach 5.
- Created new program content for RAM on the Road Second Grade program and focused on story telling specific to artists of color in the collection.
- Featured a diverse group of artists and created art using recycled materials for the new Zero Waste Eighth Grade Art program, critically highlighting how communities of color are often impacted negatively by plastic pollution and environmental hazards such as Environmental Racism.
- Instituted a program to specifically work with Family & Community Engagement Centers/Family Empowerment Series (FES).
- Provided art programs, take home art projects, and online activities, many of which focused on artists of color
- Partnered with FES to provide programs during Family Days at a variety of Community Schools:
- National Hispanic Heritage Month
- Martin Luther King Day
- Black History Month
- Women’s History Month
- Partnered with the Black Arts Council of Racine to provide collaborative programming and support with the goal to build a stronger network of artists of color in the area by providing free art making activities for families.
- Created and provided a variety of online, at-home family activities that are inspired by and showcase artists of color or women from the permanent collection.
- Formed a partnership with Scott Terry and Mahogany Gallery to identify future ways to collaborate including RAM participating in the Black Expo, as well as hosting several meetings with Scott to grow relationship.
- Hired artist of color to teach classes.
- Hired one person of color as a General Museum Assistant.
- Offered over 20 on-site free community programs at both campuses with a DEIA focus. Programs related to a loaned piece by Haitian-born artist Edouard Duval-Carrié entitled, Lost at Sea, and the Wustum exhibition, Cultural Reflections were centered on the work of and artists of color from the collection and in current exhibits. These included:
- A Poetry Night at Wustum partnering with Black Arts Council of Racine and Family Power Music
- A two-day workshop with visiting artist Paul Andrew Wandless.
- An Artists Talk with Scott Terry and Paul Andrew Wandless at Mahogany Gallery
- A special Lost at Sea-inspired program for The Longest Day with the Aging and Disability Resource Center and Alzheimer’s Association.
- Kids Day at Wustum
- Free Summer Drop In for Arts
- Free First Friday family programs at RAM
- A SPARK! poetry day led by a poet of color who received compensation; facilitated a program with business owner of color; and hosted four SPARK! programs related to Cultural Reflections.
- Continued to partner with Black Arts Council of Racine.
- Created 12 social media posts with at-home art projects inspired by the work of artists of color.
- Over twenty RAM on the Road programs were focused on women artists and artists of color in RAM’s collection, as well as the featured summer loan work, Lost at Sea. Topics covered such as Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Black History Month, Women’s History Month, Haitian Day, Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, National Hispanic Heritage Month, National Native American Heritage Month. These included:
- RAM on the Road free community art-making events with the Racine Unified School District Family Engagement Centers, Community Schools, and City Parks and Recreation.
- SPARK! on the Road programs
- Offered online engagement trainings with Edouard Duval-Carrié’s Lost at Sea as one of the featured artworks.
- Facilitated 80 second and fifth grade programs that heavily focused on artists of color and women artists.
- Revamped the Eighth Grade Zero Waste program to include more artists of color who work with recycled materials.
- Children’s summer art classes and camps used the Cultural Reflections exhibition as inspiration for projects and artistic endeavors.
- Offered an accessibility training session with docents and other museum professionals at the annual SPARK! conference and training.
- Created an internal education documenting system of tracking.
- Partnered with other Midwest Museum Professionals in Zoom discussions to identify areas of concern and start investigating better inclusivity practices.
- RAM partnered with ArtRoot to identify artists of color to include in local art selection for Hotel Verdant.
Group tour of All in the Family: Featuring Kelly and Kyle Phelps
Photography: RAM Staff
- Developed DEIA Statement and shared it with diverse constituents for feedback and further revision.
- As part of the Strategic Plan, completed the first phase of an institution-wide salary survey and analysis that resulted in pay increases for staff members whose compensation levels were significantly below median levels for the field, region, and discipline.
- Provided access and encouraged staff to use working hours to participate in the Racine County United Way Diversity Challenge-Parts One and Two.
- Provided access and encouraged Board and volunteers to participate in the Racine County United Way Diversity Challenge-Parts One and Two.
- Offered and encouraged diversity and equity training through educational programming such as the SPARK! virtual conferences.
- Explored and implemented new networks to reach a more diverse pool of candidates for open staff positions and volunteer and docent recruitment.
- Met with local college art professors to explore people of color as possible candidates for education-oriented roles such as teachers, general museum assistants, and education assistants.
- Continued Free First Fridays (since 2008) and provided family guest passes to be checked out from the Racine Public Library and used by anyone for free admission at any time (since 2016).
- Recruited/Invited 12 Latino or African American artists and chefs (16-total) who were featured at SAVOUR—RAMA’s annual premiere fundraising event.
- Reached out to the following potential community partners to explore new relationships and initiatives with the following:
- ArtRoot, a committee of artists and arts advocates working to revitalize Racine through the arts
- Nicole McDowell, Executive Director of Engagement and Equity, Racine Unified School District (RUSD)
- Family Engagement Center staff, a support center for local people of color
- April Harris, Black Arts Council of Racine
- Kristina Campbell, Art for Uptown
- United Way of Racine County/RUSD Community Schools
- Kristina Wantanabe, Wings of Fire Consulting and Phoenix Wellness Center, Gateway Technical College
- Scott Terry, Mahogany Gallery
- René Amado, RAM Emerging Artist Fellowship Recipient
- Lisa Marie Barber, University of Wisconsin-Parkside, RAM Artist Fellowship Recipient
- Lisa Bigalke, Carthage College, RAM Artist Fellowship Recipient
- Deontrae Mayfield, the Main Project and Café
- Tasia White, TaejaVu’s on Main
- Angela Zimmerman, Executive Director, Racine Public Library
- Midwest Museum Equity Group
- Mallory Umar, Assistant Director of Curriculum and Instruction, RUSD
- Added Martin Luther King Day to the museum calendar as a staff holiday.
- Re-iterated institutional support to staff and encouraged scheduling flexibility to celebrate religious and other holidays that are meaningful to them.
- Continued implementation of scholarships for studio art classes for children and adults to encourage participation regardless of the socio-economic status of the participants.
- Installed and maintained content on an iPad at Wustum Museum with images of work on the second floor galleries to accommodate visitors who cannot use the stairs.
- Board approved RAMA’s Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility (DEIA) Statement and Progress Report.
- RAMA’s DEIA statement and progress report were add to RAM’s website.
- Board approved RAMA’s Artists of Color Acquisition Fund policy.
- Some members of Exhibitions and Education staff attended DEIA professional development workshop, A Morning with Deanna Singh: Steps to Becoming an Inclusive Workplace.
- Staff and volunteers attended an introductory meeting and relationship-building afternoon at Racine’s Mahogany Gallery.
- Investigated grants and funding opportunities to help support DEIA initiatives.
- Education, Exhibitions and Marketing monthly meetings to discuss inclusivity and equity building programming.
Artist Scott Terry at his work at the SAVOUR 2022 Live Auction
Photography: Lori Potrykus
- Featured three artists of color as a 2022 SAVOUR artist, and one queer artist.
- Three of the SAVOUR restaurants featured and highlighted were people of color.
- All artists and restaurants received payment to participate.
- Offered free event tickets to each of the artists and the restaurants to bring a guest.
- Event committee focused on driving a diverse group of attendees to the event.
- Hired and paid two artists of color to provide art activities as mini SAVOUR events.
- Featured artist of color and Pakistani restaurant staff in local television spot.
- Investigate a hybrid model for paid short-term staff, volunteers, and interns that establishes a more diverse volunteer pool, allowing those who want to contribute their time to do so and those who want to help but need financial support to do so to participate as well.
- Develop a plan to organize regular (probably quarterly) all-staff meetings that would include external voices from a variety of backgrounds in order to address a variety of DEIA-related topics.
- Investigate ways of retaining existing funding and locating new sources of support for internal and external DEIA efforts.
- Re-evaluate entire internship program to ensure broad-based equity.
- Review compensation measures for artists lending works to exhibitions and engaging in outreach programming.
- Investigate the feasibility and implementation of scholarship opportunities for juried exhibitions as a means to encourage participation regardless of the socio-economic status of the participants.
- Investigate the feasibility of making portions of the collection more accessible through engagement opportunities such as presenting study materials for hands-on learning.
- Contemplate the efficacy of having links on the website addressing social justice, equality, and/or diversity and how it relates to artists or artists of color.
- Improve gallery accessibility through interactive outreach, gallery signage, and artwork arrangement.