Here at Overture, we’re working hard to make sure our organization is as welcoming, inclusive and diverse as it can be. We take seriously our responsibility to the community to ensure what we see on stage truly reflects our humanity and society.
Under the leadership of Chief Equity and Innovation Officer Edward S. Holmes, PhD, we have implemented a rigorous, comprehensive and measurable plan of action to affirm our commitment to diversity and inclusion in both our programming and our workplace. Since joining Overture in 2016, Holmes has conducted deliberate outreach to diverse communities of Madison and created opportunities for young people to be a part of Overture audiences and engage with artists including Patti LaBelle, Black Violin, Maraca & His Latin Jazz All Stars, Mariachi Herencia de Mexico and more.
In addition, Overture piloted a new Arts Career Exploration Spotlight (ACES) program, providing Madison-area middle and high-school students a new pathway to exploring local arts organizations and career possibilities in the arts, and launched the Lullaby Project, in partnership with Harambee Village Doulas, using the creative process of songwriting to improve maternal health and child bonds with pregnant woman and new mothers. We host the annual Latino Art Fair, a free event featuring art, poetry and music, the Madison and Dane County Martin Luther King Jr. Day Celebration presented by the King Coalition, and International Festival, a free celebration of our international community in Dane County.
“Using the arts as a catalyst for change isn’t something new but using the full spectrum of resources of a performing arts center is a major step in promoting the conversation and change needed to create a better future for our young people,” said Holmes.
A letter from Overture Foundation Chair Pablo Sanchez
I’m passionate about what we’re doing at Overture Center to engage guests, staff, volunteers, board members and the community in diversity, equity, inclusion and innovation. Our goal is to create a place where people belong. It doesn’t matter where you came from or what you look like or what resources you have available. We want everyone to feel welcome and included at Overture, part of the family, where they can feel comfortable being themselves.
I grew up in a Washington farming community, the son of immigrant parents. As I assimilated to American culture, I practiced the language to avoid an accent. I dressed like my friends and acted like them to fit in. But when I visited my family in Mexico, I didn’t quite fit in there anymore. I wasn’t always sure where I belonged.
My experience made me realize how quickly the demographics of our country are changing, and I was not alone in my desire for inclusion.
At Overture, we are working to keep up with the times. We have approved Equity and Innovation Organizational Commitments to help us achieve equitable treatment of employees and elimination of social injustice to create a workplace that values and welcomes diversity. We are committed to recruiting and retaining diverse organizational leadership, board, committee and council members. And we are committed to investing in the activities, programs and initiatives to support an environment that truly provides extraordinary arts experiences for ALL.
As chair of Overture’s Foundation Board, I am pleased that over one third of our board is composed of diverse members of our community. I appreciate the different ideas and the mindset every board member brings to our team. I manage the meetings in a way that everyone gives input and participates in discussions. This is essential in operating an organization that is so valuable to this community.
I feel we are doing good work at Overture, and there is much more to do. I hope you’ll join me in these critical conversations.
Vice President of Community Engagement and member of the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee, Park Bank
JUSTICE EQUITY DIVERSITY AND INCLUSION (JEDI) COMMITMENTS
1) EMPLOYEES: We are committed to equitable treatment and elimination of social injustice in all its forms throughout the organization to create a workplace that values and welcomes diversity.
- Review all HR policies to eliminate inequities
- Develop intentional recruitment strategies to engage with diverse candidates, with a specific focus on recruiting diverse employees at the director and leadership levels
- Create a comprehensive staff and board education and training plan to establish a deeper knowledge base and understanding regarding racial equity and social justice issues
- Require employees to attend or engage in at least one professional development experience that deepens understanding of diverse cultures, social justice and diversity issues and bring this learning and understanding into the organization
2) LEADERSHIP: We are committed to recruiting and retaining diverse organizational leadership, board, committee and council members.
- Actively participate in at least one external group that promotes professional, educational, cultural or social justice advancement for people of color
- Intentionally engage board, committee and council members in ways that encourage members to maximize their full skills, expertise and experiences to advance Overture’s mission
3) FINANCIAL: We are committed to investing in the activities, programs and initiatives to support an environment that truly provides extraordinary arts experiences for ALL.
- Prioritize funds for artistic programs that explicitly support access for and engagement with diverse populations
- Fund professional development experiences, training and education for staff and board
- Require departments to include at least one diversity, equity and inclusion initiative in their annual plan and budget
- Invest in additional human resources to support the above commitments and tactics
A dashboard will be created to establish, track and communicate metrics, goals and progress.
This publication showcases the important work we are doing to make our organization more inclusive and reflective of our community.
LAND RECOGNITION STATEMENT
Acknowledging Ho-Chunk Nation’s ancestral lands, Overture Center for the Arts celebrates the rich traditions, heritage and culture that thrived long before our arrival. Overture respectfully recognizes this Ho-Chunk land and affirms that we are better when we stand together.
Race to Equity funding provided by Altria, Cummings Christensen Family Foundation, Carl & Mary Gulbrandsen, Philip & Helen Bradbury, Madison Community Foundation, Scherr-Lloyd Fund, Overture Center Foundation Board of Directors and by contributions to Overture Center for the Arts.
For more information on how to support these efforts, contact Ed Holmes, PhD. at email@example.com.
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