Ford Report Finds that Boards of NYC Museums Lack Diversity

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Ford Report Finds that Boards of NYC Museums Lack Diversity

Although they operate in a sprawling megalopolis that prides itself on its racial and ethnic diversity, many of New York City's arts and cultural organizations have boards that are predominantly white, the New York Times reports.

According to data collected by the Times, the percentage of people of color among board members at most institutions remains strikingly low, while more than a few employ overwhelmingly white staffs, even as they are ramping up efforts to attract a broader cross-section of visitors. There are execeptions, of course: at the Studio Museum in Harlem, 82 percent of board members and 80 percent of staff are people of color, compared with 24 percent and 66 percent of at the Brooklyn Museum, 25 percent and 43 percent at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, 10 percent and 35 percent at the American Museum of Natural History, and 10 percent and 20 percent at New York City Ballet.

Darren Walker discusses the importance of community representation on museum boards: "'to fulfill your mission you've got to be credible, and in order to be credible, the community needs to see themselves represented among you. That won't change, however, if arts and cultural institutions in the city don't do a better job of looking beyond the usual candidate pools. "[T]rustees are limited by their own networks," added Walker. "The places they look are the places they've always looked and those places generally have very few people of color."'


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