Cultural Road Map for Equity (in NYC’s Cultural Plan)

Notes listing areas of interest from the first Radical Think Tank Session at Sunview Luncheonette 2015.

“We must not rest until we build a multiracial democracy that embraces the fullness of our spirits and human experi​ence.” – Opal Tometi, Founder, Black Lives Matter

We are coming together as a coalition of artists and cultural workers of color to help build equity into all areas within NYC’s first ever Cultural Plan of 2017. Our efforts are not without precedent, as there have been many artists and cultural workers of color who came before us that fought and continue to fight for inclusion in all levels of NYC’s cultural institutions. In this regards and learning from the past, there is still much more work to be done. But ultimately we do believe, that with a strong framework, metrics, and accountability, a cultural plan can be created that will provide true equity for all past, present, and future artists and cultural workers of color in New York City.


Timeline of Events

October–December 2015 
Radical Think-Tanks are set-up at Sunview Luncheonette to discuss artists, cultural workers, and community needs. Needs are framed around the development of NYC’s Cultural Plan (2014-2017) and the anti-gentrification protest at the Brooklyn Museum (2015-2016). In the final workshop of 2015, printouts of NYC’s Cultural plan local law are distributed for review.

February 2016
First draft of Artists of Color Bloc’s Cultural Road Map begins with the needs of community and focuses on community board empowerment on all aspects related to cultural production and discourse, inclusive of circulation and consumption. Members of artists of color bloc were previously involved formulating community based cultural demands for closed-door negotiations between Arts & Labor and Frieze Art Fair NY (2014) and drawn from research into alternative economies and autonomy workshops conducted by Arts & Labors Alternative Economies Working Group (2012-2014).

March–July 2016
Involvement with the Brooklyn Museum Anti-Gentrification protest puts a pause on developing the Cultural Road Map. An opportunity to workshop ideas for the Cultural Road Map opens up at the Brooklyn Community Forum on Anti-Gentrification and Displacement at the Brooklyn Museum. The Brooklyn Museum objects to the title of artists of color bloc’s We Demand!,  a workshop for artists, cultural workers, and communities, and suggest a title of their own.

August–September 2016
Drafting of Cultural Road Map resumes, adding demands for artists of color funding and cultural workers of color labor equity are added to existing to community needs.

October 2016
After a year-long pause Think Tank Session resume at Sunview Luncheonette on Thursday, October 23rd. The list of official advisors is read out loud.

nb. October marks the start of independent/alternative session by various groups like CCCADI (Oct. 24), Decolonize This Place (Oct. 25), Queens Creative Solidarity (Nov. 6)

November 2016–February 2017
artists of color bloc continues working on the Cultural Road Map hosting a private workshop at an activist retreat in November and is also invited to join The People’s Cultural Plan for input on the Labor Equity section of the plan (w/working group meeting later in Jan 20). Early in 2017 artists of color bloc also begins dialog with Loisiada regarding joining efforts to develop demands for artists of color in NYC’s Cultural Plan.

March–June 2017
Artists of color bloc delivers The Cultural Road Map to NYC Department of Cultural Affairs for review.  artists of color bloc begins collaboration with Michelada Think Tank and a member of Loisaida’s internal think tank. Together they host two events at Cue Art Foundation for solidarity and cross-racial solidarity and equity in the cultural plan in March and June. The three also meet with the Department of Cultural Affairs to discuss the artists of color bloc’s Cultural Road Map and inclusion into NYC’s Cultural Plan due in July.

The June event at Cue marks the formation of an independent PoC Advisory Council with members of Museum Hue and South East Queens Artists Alliance.

July 2017
artists of color bloc and others join for the launch of The People’s Cultural Plan on Tuesday, July 18, 2017 at Artists Space in downtown Manhattan. The following day DCLA releases the official Cultural Plan at a press event at Materials for the Arts in Queens.


Current Focus

Artists of color bloc and The PoC Advisory Council continue to evaluate the release of the official cultural plan and are working offline to address its short comings and set guidelines for accountability. We are looking for new members and other groups to help in this effort, along with supporting and advising the The People’s Cultural Plan. Please reach out if you would like to join us.


More Information:

nycculturalplan-squareA COMMON PROJECT: NYC Cultural Plan
Artists and cultural workers rallying around the cultural plan
can be found on the A COMMON PROJECT website.



Cultural Plan Flyer // Dec 6 Workshop at BricArtists & Cultural Workers Flyers
For Bric Brooklyn Workshop December 6, 2016



Diversity in the New York City Department
of Cultural Affairs Community

January 28, 2016 (updated on April 21, 2016)
by Roger C. Schonfeld, Liam Sweeney