Community Vision for An Equitable Future at YoungArts

The following vision statement calls on YoungArts to center equity, diversity and inclusion as a fundamental part of their institutional work and professional development in both the short and long-term. This vision statement was written with the ideals of accountability, growth, empathy and meaningful, intentional action.

YoungArts has broken the trust of its community. YoungArts has a well-documented pattern of shutting down plans for anti-racist structural reform,
no matter how detailed or urgent the plan presented. In the past, YoungArts has also treated those who push for structural change—particularly BIPOC individuals—with institutional disregard and negligence. Only in stopping the silencing of these critical voices can YoungArts build a path towards trust and restitution. 
YoungArts must understand that these actions are the bare minimum institutional commitment to be made. We wrote this vision statement to sustainably protect the radical joy and liberation of artists of color. This vision statement outlines ways in which that joy and liberation can be celebrated, prioritized and sustained. YoungArts, we request your humble and joyful participation in this process of accountability, active listening, learning and growth.

We call on YoungArts to commit to a shift in its internal practices and external engagement through adopting the following short-term actions:

  • The creation and distribution of a detailed, transparent, accountable, and empathetic response to the open letter published 05.30.20 and addressed
    to the National YoungArts Foundation. This response is to be released IMMEDIATELY and to be hosted on the YoungArts website in perpetuity.

  • Proof of immediate engagement with a non-YoungArts affiliated consultant who specializes in anti-bias training. A dedicated, annual commitment to rigorous, anti-bias and anti-racist training institution-wide, including
    training of part-time employees and contracted employees brought on for programmatic purposes.

  • The establishment, within 14 days, of an equitably accessible, online, platform for community members to share impact statements detailing their experiences with discrimination at YoungArts. It is important that those submitting these impact statements have the option to do so anonymously. This initiative must be managed by a non-YoungArts affiliated, qualified, facilitator who has been trained in organizational accountability practices. Within these same 14 days, YoungArts must send at least two community-wide e-communications alerting the public to the existence of this platform.

  • The presentation, within the next 30 days, of a public forum or series of public forums wherein these submitted impact statements can be shared transparently by a mediator with the full YoungArts community. The participation of the entire YoungArts staff, including senior leadership and Board members must be mandatory.

  • A written statement signed by Jewel Malone, COO and YoungArts HR Representation pledging publicly that YoungArts will begin to follow laws surrounding confidentiality and the protection of whistle-blowers. This statement must also publicly acknowledge that YoungArts has failed to
    uphold its legal obligation to confidentiality in the past. It must be posted
    on the YoungArts website in perpetuity.
  • Termination of employment for Stacey Glassman Mizener AND/OR reconciliation of her wrongdoing in a restorative justice format.
    Appropriate actions to undertake are:

    a)  A public, detailed apology to the YoungArts community, demonstrating accountability and understanding. To be released in video format.

    b)  A personal donation of at least 1% (no less than $1,570) of her annual salary at YoungArts to be pledged publicly to a black-owned nonprofit or organization doing anti-racist work.

  • The temporary reallocation of funds from alumni programs such as the Alumni Microgrant Program, Up Next Symposia & Showcase, exhibition at the PULSE Art Fair and Sundance Ignite Fellowship to a YoungArts-run endowment created with the sole goal of providing financial resources for BIPOC members of the YoungArts community to pursue mental health counseling from qualified professionals. This community is inclusive of staff, part-time workers, current winners, alumni and part-time/contracted staff. These funds must be reallocated for the entirety of YoungArts Fiscal Year 2021

  • The abolishment of the U.S. citizenship requirement for YoungArts applicants. We recognize that YoungArts is the sole nominating body for the U.S. Presidential Scholars in the Arts program and that those eligible for this program must be U.S. citizens. That should not deprive undocumented
    youth of access to YoungArts programming. 

We call on YoungArts to further commit to structural change through adopting the following long-term actions:

  • The creation of a community task-force to examine and challenge implicit bias in the practices of YoungArts’ annual competition. This task force should be made up of a wide-ranging group of community members (staff, alumni, board members, master teachers/panelists) and should be publicly accountable for its progress to the community on a quarterly, or, at the very least, bi-annual basis. The task-force must be assembled and meet at least twice prior to National YoungArts Week 2021.

    a) The members of this task force must be paid equitably and competitively for their labor.

    b) The members of this task-force must be invited to the annual board meeting that takes place during National YoungArts Week. Any costs incurred in task force member’s attendance and participation (airfare, housing, food) must be covered financially by YoungArts.
  • The creation of a detailed, written institutional statement on YoungArts’ strategic plans for diversity, equity and inclusion to be approved by the board of trustees prior to National YoungArts Week 2021 and distributed publicly.

  • A public, written commitment to increasing diversity at the highest levels
    of senior leadership and board participation to be approved by the board of trustees prior to National YoungArts Week 2021 and distributed publicly.

  • A quarterly report detailing the organization’s progress on each of these
    long-term efforts and reporting on their success. To be distributed publicly
    on the YoungArts website starting now and continued in perpetuity.