Our Commitment to Equity

SCAPE (Sonoma County Artists Propelling Equity) mural during 2020-2021 Downtown Santa Rosa's Open & Out Program

To read the following Equity Commitment and Land Acknowledgement statements in a professional Spanish translation (versus Google Translate), click HERE

Creative Sonoma Equity Commitment

Creative Sonoma is committed to becoming an equitable and impactful organization, in words and actions, in support of the creative and cultural community of Sonoma County.  We commit to amplifying the unique capacity of the arts to identify, more deeply understand, and meaningfully address historical inequities and illuminate our shared pathway forward.

The Creative Sonoma staff and advisory board understand that this will be an evolution, requiring consistent and continuous thought and focus.  We recognize that our success in the journey will be directly linked to our humility in approach and tenacity in action.

The Creative Sonoma staff and advisory board know that longstanding and current institutional barriers to equity exist and accept the responsibility to be vigilant in identifying and removing them in our programs and practices. We believe that creating a culture of belonging for members of communities who have been historically excluded from our work is a moral imperative.  We further believe that successfully elevating voices of people for whom we have not created space for will enhance the richness, depth and ultimately the success of our activities and of our County.

This Equity Commitment was approved by the Creative Sonoma Advisory Board on May 5, 2021.

County of Sonoma Land Acknowledgement

The County of Sonoma recognizes that we are on the ancestral lands of the Coast Miwok, Pomo, and Wappo who are the original caretakers of this area. We respectfully acknowledge the Indigenous peoples who have been stewarding and maintaining relationship on this land as knowledge keepers for millennia. The County of Sonoma is dedicated to understanding and educating the public about historical and ongoing connections between land conservation and social inequities. This includes the histories of genocide, forced removal and displacement, and broken promises with Indigenous peoples as a part of American history. Indigenous people are not just in our histories.

We strive to optimize Indigenous voices to share their own history, as to not perpetuate another form of being silenced. While recognizing the past, we honor the resiliency of Native people still in their ancestral territories in relationship with their land and culture. This acknowledgement does not take the place of authentic relationships with Indigenous communities, but serves as a gesture in respect to the land we are on.  For more information, please visit the California Indian Museum and Cultural Center in Santa Rosa or at www.cimcc.org.

2021 Conversations on Equity Series

In Winter/Spring 2021, Creative Sonoma presented a series of conversations between local leaders on equity, what it means to them, and what initiatives are taking place on a county, city, and arts organization level.

Below is the video of the session from April 28, 2021, featuring the conversation between Veronica Vences of La Luz Center and José Soto, Director of Luther Burbank Center’s Youth Mariachi Ensemble:  enjoy their conversation on access to equitable youth arts education. 

Our Progress to Date

  1. Increased the representation from Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) communities among our grants to individuals from 18% in our first year to 33% in FY2020.
  2. Maintain an Advisory Board whose gender, racial and ethnic diversity is comparable or better than the Sonoma County population.
  3. Increase awareness of outside resources and opportunities specifically for artists from historically excluded communities (BIPOC, LGBTQ, people with disabilities) and organizations that serve them in order to increase their access and participation in these programs.
  4. Revised grant applications to learn how applicants’ activities work with historically excluded  communities and how effective that work has been; created corresponding criteria for evaluation of applications.
  5. Developed an Arts Education Strategic Framework with a focus on providing access to quality arts education for all TK-12 students in Sonoma County.  This work included providing five mini-grants to schools and districts to adapt the Framework to their own circumstances:  three of the five grants went to districts/schools in high needs districts with as much as 87% of the population from socioeconomically disadvantaged households, and more than 51% of the students for whom English is a second language.
  6. Trained, funded and promoted a roster of teaching artists for use by local Districts for school residencies, 38% of whom were Latinx, to use the arts to ease the impacts of trauma.
  7. Produced a training workshop on diversity, equity and inclusion as a requirement for 2019 grantees; produced a 3-part series of dialogues on equity in January 2021.
  8. Encouraged a learning environment for staff by supporting attendance at social justice and racial equity trainings. 

Our Ongoing Commitments

  1. Assess our existing structures to identify where barriers to access exist for representatives from historically excluded communities and reconfigure them to achieve greater equity.
  2. Apply the lens of equity to all programs, services, and administrative policies as they are created, revised and implemented.
  3. Develop specific trainings on diversity, equity and inclusion as part of each year’s professional development offerings to assist the creative community in doing this work in their own organizations and communities.
  4. Leverage our position within the Economic Development Board to advocate for economic policies and programs designed to level the economic playing field for all Sonoma County residents, with a focus on historically marginalized and oppressed communities.
  5. Conduct research and data collection to accurately reflect our demographics and serve as benchmarks for progress toward our equity goals.
  6. Recruit staff and board members from historically excluded communities; ensure all staff and board members embody values that include racial equity and social justice.
  7. Ensure representation from historically excluded communities in our work when selecting or hiring panelists, presenters, contractors and partners.
  8. Develop partnerships with Sonoma County nonprofits and service providers with whom we can collaborate to achieve greater equity in the arts.
  9. Amplify new and established voices of members of color and other underserved and underrepresented communities through our communications platforms.
  10. Maintain up-to-date online equity resources for our community to access for their own independent learning and implementation.