National Sawdust programs have always sought to lay a foundation for civic and artistic dialogue that takes on the complex realities of gender disparities, racial inequities, climate change, and disabilities that are both visible and invisible. At the same time, we acknowledge that National Sawdust is a predominantly white arts institution where the programming has historically been more diverse than the staff and board.
In response to the 2020 national uprising against systemic racism, National Sawdust embarked on a process with staff and board that asked at this historic moment of reckoning with democracy and systemic racism, how can we contribute to an intersectional plan of action that prioritizes accountability and implementation over statements of solidarity. This process included a five-month series of workshops with racial equity consultant and philanthropic advisor June Wilson and participating in the #ArtsGoBlack anti-racism training provided by the Caribbean Cultural Center.
This work strengthened National Sawdust’s commitment to arts citizenship and deepened our understanding of the degree to which we, as individuals leading an organization and participating in the cultural sector and in society at-large, must begin the process of dismantling the ongoing legacies of settler colonialism and of giving visibility to the exclusions and erasures of indigenous and enslaved peoples that have shaped the systems and cultural norms of our country. The path ahead is as vast and necessary as it is challenging and rewarding.
National Sawdust has identified the following principles and guidelines to inform our anti-racism, inclusion, diversity, equity, access, and racial justice work moving forward:
We will practice active listening so that we can be open to ideas and perspectives that are different from our own.
We prioritize empathy for one another as we confront difficult realities and disparate understandings of race and culture.
We allow ourselves to be vulnerable and to make mistakes so that we can learn and become more effective in our anti-racist outlooks and communication.
We acknowledge that this work is lifelong and that it is not linear.We commit to the basic principles of human rights embodied in the Carribean Cultural Center’s #ArtsGoBlack initiative: Organizations committed to a vibrant, vital, and relevant arts and culture ecosystem reaffirm that indiscriminate murder of Black men, women, and other people of color cannot be tolerated in a civilized society;
It is not enough for an organization to support equality if they will not confront racism in word and deed;
It is not enough for an organization to believe in racial and social justice unless action is taken to end racial and social injustice.
It is not enough for an organization to express solidarity with the Black community without taking actions that actualizes that solidarity;
It is not enough for an organization to reject racism while supporting white privilege in its funding or program decisions;It is not enough for an organization to “care” about people of color without reallocating resources that move care into action.
These guidelines, and principles are interdependent with National Sawdusts core values:
–NS believes that the arts are critical in understanding, interpreting, and giving voice to the world we live in…
-NS believes that art is the foundation of identity, reaching across local and global divides, helping us to understand the past, envision and give voice to the future…
-NS believes in the power of diverse and inclusive music discovery and artistic collaboration, expression and voice– to entertain us, educate us, and inspire us…
-NS believes in bringing to life content that is rooted in values with a point of view—citizen artistry–content that invites us to be better people and create a better world… to regenerate the artistic voice in community, with all audiences.
The board nominating committee will serve a dual purpose as the board inclusion and equity committee. This committee is charged with identifying and cultivating diverse board members who are passionate about National Sawdust’s mission and programs as well as creating a board culture that is inclusive and works to overcome inequalities of race, economics, and privilege using the NS values, principles, and guidelines for anti-racism work.
The board will commit financial resources to support and amplify National Sawdust’s goals for anti-racism, diversity, and equity.
As National Sawdust rebuilds its staff after the pandemic, it will prioritize opportunities for people of color.
National Sawdust will continue its curatorial commitment to presenting artists of diverse ethnicities, genders, and aesthetics. Staff will work to build relationships with audiences representing the same levels of diversity.
National Sawdust will integrate what it has learned from its anti-racism work into how it onboards new staff, board members, and consultants.
National Sawdust will provide forums for staff to continue their personal learning and professional development about anti-racism, inclusion, diversity, equity, and racial justice.
National Sawdust will offer Juneteenth and Election Day as paid staff holidays.
National Sawdust will create an anti-racism, equity, and inclusion resources page on its website to document its work and its goals on these issues.
As a long-standing member of the Association of Performing Arts Professionals(APAP), National Sawdust adheres to its Code of Ethics for its members and Code of Conduct for its members conference in all of its programs and activities. All APAP members are held accountable for upholding the Code of Ethics and are required to agree and abide by the Code of Ethics annually as a condition of APAP membership.
The Code of Ethics stipulates the following basis for Personal and Professional Integrity:
The National Sawdust mission is to cultivate an ecosystem of learning, incubation, and dissemination rooted in open and inclusive music curiosity and driven by the belief that artistic expression empowers us all to create a more just world. National Sawdust is also committed to the current field-wide efforts to reframe and strengthen the ethics we bring to our interactions, partnerships, and programs including the APAP Equitable Partnership Working Group, the Dance/USA Joint Working Group for Equitable Partnership, and the Creating New Futures Document: Working Guidelines for Ethics and Equity in Presenting Dance & Performance.
Complementing the APAP Code of Ethics, National Sawdust is committed to maintaining a workplace free of prohibited employment conduct, including discrimination or harassment on the basis of any characteristic protected by law; retaliation for engaging in protected activity; and failing to provide reasonable accommodation(s) for disability or religion. The Company encourages individuals who believe they are being harassed to firmly and promptly notify the alleged offender that his or her behavior is unwelcome. However, we also recognize that perceived power and status disparities between an alleged offender and a victim may make such a confrontation difficult. Therefore, whether or not you discuss the incident with the alleged offender, we ask that individuals who believe they have been subjected to harassment report the incident to their immediate supervisor. We encourage prompt reporting of complaints so that rapid and appropriate action may be taken. If you would like to report or communicate on any matter, please write to us at: firstname.lastname@example.org
National Sawdust will not in any way retaliate against an individual who makes a report of perceived harassment; nor will we permit any employee to do so. Retaliation is a serious violation of the harassment policy and anyone who feels they have been subjected to any acts of retaliation should immediately report such conduct. Any person who retaliates against another individual for reporting any perceived acts of harassment will be subject to disciplinary action up to and including discharge. All allegations of harassment will be promptly investigated. National Sawdust will endeavor to maintain confidentiality throughout the investigatory process to the extent practical and appropriate under the circumstances.