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Racial Equity in Arts Leadership (REAL)

Racial Equity in Arts Leadership (REAL)

A project sponsored by the Metro Nashville Arts Commission, Scarritt Bennett Center, and The Curb Center at Vanderbilt

In 2015, REAL brought together twenty arts leaders, including individual artists and representatives of the Nashville Symphony, Frist Center for Visual Arts, Nashville Opera, Nashville Repertory Theater, Tennessee Performing Arts Center, Nashville Ballet, National Museum of African American Music, DancEast, Tennessee Jazz and Blues Society, Nashville in Harmony, Intersection, Southern Word, and SeedSpace. These leaders met for intensive workshops each month at the Curb Center and grounded their discussions in an innovative curriculum that reviewed research and leading practices in the field on racial and cultural equity. These discussions revealed the impact of racism on organizations and art forms and created a peer network dedicated to positive change.

Since 2015, the Curb Center has partnered with the Metro Nashville Arts Commission (Metro Arts) to develop and implement the Racial Equity in Arts Leadership (REAL) program, a series of workshops and seminars designed to drive racial equity in Nashville’s arts sector. The program brings together arts administrators, executive leaders of cultural institutions, community-based arts organizations, and individual artists for regular seminars and organizational workshops that provide insight into how institutional practices such as hiring processes and arts programming choices can advance racial equity in our community. REAL participants meet regularly to address challenges they encounter as they work to build more equitable practices in their institutions.

As part of the REAL program, the Curb Center also sponsors public conversations with national leaders in the fields of arts-based civic engagement and cultural policy to address matters of racial equity. Read more about how the cadre is organized, characteristics of cadre members, and questions and topics posed. A third learning cadre will be launching in early 2018.




REAL Community Partners

Scarritt Bennett Center is a nonprofit educational center and conference and special events venue located next to Vanderbilt University in the heart of Nashville, Tennessee. Drawing on a rich history of community engagement and social activism, the Center plays an active role in social justice issues, with particular emphasis on racial equality, women’s empowerment, intercultural understanding, and spiritual enrichment.

In 2016 Metro Arts launched an artist development program called Learning Lab to train artists in civic, public, social and placemaking practices. Funded by the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and co-designed with the Center for Performance and Civic Practice (CPCP) and the Arts & Business Council of Greater Nashville (ABC),the Lab helps  artists deepen their knowledge around equitable, community-based work and created capacity for neighborhood transformation through the arts.