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Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Access (IDEA)

The Indiana Arts Commission has adopted IDEA as a principle to support our values and funding imperatives and address structural inequalities by providing access to programs, services, and resources.

What is IDEA?

IDEA is an acronym for Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Access. IDEA highlights efforts toward underserved communities by addressing structural inequities. Organizations that embrace IDEA are able to foster cultures that minimize bias and recognize and address systemic inequities, which, if unaddressed, create disadvantage for certain individuals or groups.

  • Inclusion: All feel welcomed and valued
    Inclusion is the act of creating environments in which any individual or group can be and feel welcomed, respected, represented, supported, and valued to fully participate.
    • Example: The organization learned from a survey it wasn’t welcoming to older adults.  As a result, it hosted a focus group of older individuals who provided feedback on what the organization could do to make it more welcoming.  Not every suggestion could be done all at once, some things were costly, but many things could.  Making *small changes, and showing commitment by gathering feedback, goes a long way. (*Making labels in large print, creating an accessibility committee, reviewing program participation by demographics.)
  • Diversity: All the ways we differ
    Diversity includes all of the ways in which people differ, encompassing the different characteristics that make one individual or group different from another. While diversity is often used in reference to race, ethnicity, and gender, we embrace a broader definition that also includes age, national origin, religion, disability, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, education, marital status, language, physical appearance, geography, and any other identifiers that make one individual or group different from another.
    • Example: An organization was asked to describe the diversity of its community. They described only the racial diversity in their community. The organization learned that even in a group of people who are mostly from a similar racial/ethnic background, diversity can refer to different economic backgrounds, different ages, and physical abilities.
  • Equity: All having the opportunity to fully participate
    Equity encompasses the policies and practices used to ensure the fair treatment, access, opportunity, and advancement for all people, while at the same time trying to identify and eliminate barriers that have historically prevented the full participation of some individuals or groups.
    • Example: Equity is not equality.  With equality, everyone gets the same piece of pie.  But some people aren’t hungry and some people are really hungry.  Sharing equally doesn’t make sense.  How could the pie be shared equitably?  Give pieces of pie to those that need it most.
    • Applied to the arts, let’s consider an exhibition that’s open to the public - everyone is welcome to attend.  Free is a great start.  Equity means creating a policy or policies that ensure greater, meaningful participation by recognizing not everyone comes from the same access point (they may need free access, large print labels, a ramp to get into the exhibition, transportation, or translated materials).

  • Access: Of any and all abilities
    Access refers to the commitment for everyone to be included in all programs and activities.
    • Example: An organization offers arts classes for youth, but classes aren’t full and the same students from the same demographics participate.  To create more access to a broader youth audience, the organization develops a relationship with a youth-serving organization.  Together, they identify barriers ($ and transportation) to participation, hatch and execute a plan to address those barriers, and as a result, more students from varied backgrounds participate.  Why?  Because the organization developed a pathway (access) for them to participate by getting input from those that know them, the youth service organization.

Graphic showing the difference between equity and equality. In equality, each person is given same, in equity, each person is given what they need.Courtesy of Training and Consulting for the Real World

What can be done as an Individual Practitioner?

  • Learn - participate in trainings, read books, and actively listen
  • Seek support from colleagues who are in the process of creating change within their institutions.
  • Be committed to a lifelong process of learning and change.
  • Be available to your peers as a resource.
  • Conduct data analysis on your own portfolio to identify where dollars are going and opportunities for change.
  • Use inclusive and welcoming language in your external communications.
  • Seek research and data about equity to present to leadership.
  • Learn the history of local African, Latino/Hispanic, Asian, Arab, and/or Native American communities and become familiar with leaders.  Attend their public events, and develop relationships.

What can be done in your Institution?

  • Provide opportunities for board and staff to learn about or attend trainings on implicit biases and historical perceptions of disability.
  • Assure that an equity lens informs all decision-making, programs, policies, and procedures.
  • Establish an equity advisory committee or working group of colleagues that will inform programming direction and guide institutional change.
  • Use inclusive and welcoming language in your external communications.
  • Advocate research and data collection that accurately represents the demographics served by and serving in arts organizations and foundations.
  • Intentionally consider, select, and support board and staff who value equity.
  • Intentionally consider, select, and support diverse candidates for board and staff.
  • Collaborate with other organizations working in IDEA to provide resources and share best practices to create equity.

Learn More

General Resources

Book Recommendations

  • Diversifying Diversity – Dr. Poornima Luthra
  • DEI Deconstructed – Lily Zheng
  • Inclusion Revolution – Daisy Auger-Dominguez
  • Allyship IN Action – Julie Kratz (Indianapolis Resident)

Videos and Podcasts

Access Resources

Veterans and the Arts

Creative Aging and Healthcare

Contact Information

This work is constant and always evolving. If you have any thoughts, comments, resources, or suggestions you’d like to share with us, please email them to