New ‘Advancing Cultural Equity’ Workshop and Technical Assistance Program! Deadline April 15


Advancing Cultural Equity Workshop and Technical Assistance Program

Jointly-sponsored by Rhode Island State Council for the Arts (RISCA) and the Rhode Island Foundation (RIF), this pilot program is designed to build capacity among Rhode Island arts and cultural organizations around diversity, equity, and inclusion. Consisting of a three-part workshop series and technical assistance package, organizations will obtain the knowledge, tools, and strategies needed to attract and retain an engaged group of staff, volunteers, and board members through shared learning and individualized consultations with a field expert.

Potential applicants are highly encouraged to speak with Todd Trebour, RISCA’s Organizations Program Director, at 401-222-3882 or prior to application. A PDF version of the program guidelines is available here.

Program goals

  • Provide participating organizations with material that represents best practices in diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) designed to assist each organization match their commitment to DEI with that of their stakeholders, audiences and cultural/service offerings.
  • Offer the cohort individualized assistance with creation of a plan for full implementation of equity and diversity practices and action steps.

Program components

  • Cohort: consists of 8-10 organizations selected via application. Organizations must complete a written application.
  • Participants: Up to three representatives from an organization must attend all sessions, including Executive Director (ED) and Board Chair.
  • Presenter and Technical Assistance Provider: Brea Heidelberg, Ph.D., assistant professor at Drexel University (see bio below).
  • Program elements: Workshops (3 hours each): each workshop will run from 9 AM – 12 PM on the date specified at RIF. Workshops will be followed by a networking lunch courtesy of RIF.
    • Friday, June 21, 2019 – Nuts and bolts of diversity, equity, and inclusion work: an overview.
    • Friday, August 30, 2019 – Advancing diversity, equity and inclusion within your staff and volunteers.
    • Friday, September 27, 2019 – Advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion within your governing body. Upon completion of the workshops, participating organizations will be eligible for participation grants up to $1000 from the RI Foundation.
    • Individual technical assistance: up to 3 hours of individual phone, video conference and/or in-person coaching for ED and/or board chair after workshop series is completed, depending on org needs. Participating organizations will receive grants from RISCA to cover the cost of the 3 hours of technical assistance.
    • Peer-to-peer check in session 6, 9, and 12 months after first workshop to maintain accountability.
  • Program outcome (short-term): clearly defined staff and board diversity and equity development plan.
  • Program outcome (long-term): implementation of staff and board diversity and equity development plan. We understand implementation may only be initiated during program time table.


In order to build a sense of shared cohort for this pilot, organizations must meet the following criteria:

  • Be a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization registered in the state of Rhode Island.
  • Have arts and culture as central to the work of the organization.
  • Have an annual budget under 1.5 million.
  • Demonstrate a commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion at the board and executive staff level.
  • Illustrate an understanding of diversity, equity, and inclusion.
  • Be ready to take the steps to implement change within 6-12 months.

The following criteria are not required, but are welcomed:

  • Demonstrate a past history of diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts at the organization.

Because this is a pilot program, the cohort will be kept small and – in as much as possible – focus on a group of organizations who share similar attributes, including level of commitment, budget size, programming, and communities served.

Participation and performance in this program will have no impact on future or current funding from either RISCA or the RI Foundation.

Requirements of Pilot Program Participants

As pilot program participants, you will be helping RIF, RISCA, and Dr. Brea Heidelberg in developing this model of cohort-based DEI learning for organizations of small-to-mid sized budgets. Participants will be asked to complete surveys and respond to interview questions about their experiences. Participation in these assessments is voluntary and may stop at any time without forfeiting the right to continue in the cohort. All responses will be kept confidential and will be used to improve cohort structure, materials, and provide the arts and cultural field with insights into how to work toward field-wide equity.

Application and Review Process

Application deadline is April 15. Notification of acceptance into program will be by May 3.

Application will consist of a brief narrative and supplemental materials (see below). Application can be completed online via RISCA’s grant portal for organizations here.


While we want an organizational cohort that has shared attributes and commitment to this work, we also acknowledge that commitment is not always readily apparent in current organizational practices – which is why you might be interested in participating in this program! Dr. Heidelberg would like to get a sense of the breadth of experience among potential members of this cohort; we want organizations along a spectrum of accomplishment and welcome your honest answers to these questions:

In no more than two pages, please answer the following questions:

  • Briefly discuss your organization’s current diversity, equity and inclusion work. Highlight your areas of success or triumph, as well as your perceived areas of growth moving forward. If applicable, touch on the following areas:
    • Existence of trainings for staff and board on DEI.
    • Degree to which board and staff reflect communities served.
    • Processes for engaging staff in discussions around differences, and ensuring safety of staff in discussions.
    • Existence of written policies that relate to DEI (e.g. cultural equity statements, policy for reporting discrimination).
    • Existence of self-reflection and assessment by staff and board on organization’s DEI efforts.
    • Degree to which communities served and staff are allowed input into decision-making.
  • Picture your organization 5-10 years from now. What are 2-3 things would be different from a DEI perspective? What do you think you need to accomplish them?

Supplemental Materials

  • Board and staff list with * indicating Asian/Asian-American, Hispanic/Latinx, Black/African-American, Middle Eastern/North African, Pacific Islander, and Native American individuals.
  • Brief, signed letters of support from ED and Board Chair indicating their interest in the program and commitment to attend the workshops.

About Dr. Brea Heidelberg

Brea is an arts management consultant, educator, and researcher. She is currently an Assistant Professor and Associate Program Director for the undergraduate Entertainment & Arts Management Program at Drexel University. Brea serves on the Emerging Leaders Council for Americans for the Arts and on the editorial board of the American Journal of Arts Management. She is also a Board Member of the Association of Arts Administration Educators, currently serving as Vice President and the chair of the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion task force. Brea’s research and consulting work centers on diversity, equity, and inclusion throughout the arts management ecosystem, professional development issues facing arts administrators, and human resource management in arts and cultural organizations. She has a varied background that includes experiences as a dancer and choreographer as well as positions in community engagement and programming at both visual and performing arts organizations. Brea has completed specialized training in evaluation at Claremont Graduate School. She also earned her master’s in Human Resource Development from Villanova University and her doctorate in Arts Administration, Education, and Policy from The Ohio State University.

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