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Taking a Closer Look at Diversity in New York City’s Dance Community

Since the release of “Diversity in the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs Community” in January, there have been some continued efforts to further understand the survey findings and make them actionable. In March, the Theater Subdistrict Council announced a new diversity grant program intended to provide training for technical and production staff from diverse backgrounds. Meanwhile, Ithaka S+R has been engaged in a study of BRIC, a Brooklyn-based arts and media organization, with the aim of investigating and sharing its successes and struggles in cultivating a staff that reflects the population the organization serves.

In addition to these efforts, we also had the opportunity to dig deeper into the survey findings in one particular discipline: the Mertz Gilmore Foundation commissioned an analysis of diversity within the dance community. We published these findings last week.

As Leah Krauss, Senior Program Officer for Dance and Special Projects at the Mertz Gilmore Foundation, and Lane Harwell, Executive Director of Dance/NYC, note in their foreword to our report, “Creating an inclusive and equitable workforce in dance and culture, as in any industry, requires baseline demographic data to guide action and measure progress over time.”

It is our hope that the report can provide this baseline. As our findings show, dance has a higher percentage of female staff than the NYC cultural community overall, and is also more ethnically and racially diverse. However, volunteers within the dance organizations we studied tend to be white non-Hispanic women.

The report shows in much more detail where dance organizations converge and diverge from other cultural institutions within the DCLA community. We also had the opportunity to break down the staff demographics in the dance community by borough, offering another point of comparison. As you read the report, we welcome your comments and questions.

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