Following the passage of County Council Resolution 18-1095 to develop an equity policy framework in county government and County Council President Navarro and County Executive Elrich’s recent community conversation on advancing racial equity in Montgomery County, the Arts and Humanities Council of Montgomery County (AHCMC) released an equity survey to the field. The survey focused on two questions:
- What does equity in the arts and humanities mean to you?
- Where do you see the greatest disparities to equity, access, and inclusion within the arts and humanities in Montgomery County?
B. Summary Findings
Over eight days, AHCMC distributed the survey via e-mail, social media, and through the five county regional centers. One hundred eighty-one (181) responses were received.
As it pertains to “What does equity in the arts and humanities mean to you?” most of the respondents focused on advocating for equity for all; widening opportunities to highlight art, history, and culture; the need for increased support for smaller organizations and individual artists; and the removal of barriers to participation to allow opportunities for art and culture to be enjoyed by all County residents, as captured in the following response:
“That extra attention is given to using public funds for the arts and humanities as it relates to marginalized and minority populations. To seek at least proportional representation in exhibits, showings. And to invest in talent that may not have resources to develop or market themselves”
However, a few respondents highlighted explicit bias, as captured in the following response:
” It means anglicization. Back in the pre-WWII era, people from all over Europe migrated to the USA. They were absolutely forbidden from speaking their mother tongue at work or in public. Everyone was forced to use the English language when outside of their private living quarters. E Pluribus Unum (from many, one) meant shut the f— up and speak English mother—— !! That’s what made America great: everybody spoke the same ——- language. Make America Great Again is not a racial slur; it’s an effort to make America prosperous for everyone living in the USA. All we ask that everyone speak English. My grandmother was German (and no, I’m not a neo-Nazi or skinhead!), and she Anglicized same as everyone else. Keep your Goddamn “equity,” go to school and work two or three jobs and keep your home and everything neat, clean, and tidy. Improve and contribute to your neighborhood rather than trash it!”
When asked “Where do you see the greatest disparities to equity, access, and inclusion within the arts and humanities in Montgomery County?” most of therespondents focused on their perceived disparities pertaining to access to funding, facilities, and programs for residents of traditionally underrepresented communities and for smaller organizations and nascent individual artists and scholars. Access disparity was also noted, with investments in the western and southern regions of the county perceived as greater than investments in the eastern and northern regions, and financial barriers to participation for youth, children, the elderly, immigrants, and communities of color were also perceived as noted in the following response:
“Funding pathways and opportunities are more robust and with greater access for larger institutions. More barriers are experienced for individual artists and smaller nonprofits. I also see large disparities in access and ownership of space. We also experience barriers to inclusion for senior adults, the fastest growing area of the population. Cost to participate in arts programing, transportation, and narrow understanding of the benefits of creativity to age well are barriers to access and inclusion.”
However, a few respondents do not believe there are any disparities or believe that the diversity of the county is the problem itself, as noted in the following response:
“I see the greatest disparities in Goddamn Latinos moving in and trashing everything! This isn’t a racist comment. It’s a statement of fact. They’re ruining the great anglicized nation we had for 200 straight years. Montgomery Village was a nice, neat, clean, tidy middle class mixed white, black, and very small Latino population forty years ago. Now look at it: a dirty, filthy, low-class, drug infested mess thanks to Latinos moving in, refusing to assimilate and trashing everything!”
The raw data presented directly from the survey tool is available here.