Theresa Ruth Howard launches Coaliti for Cultural Competence and Equity


While many arts organizations engage in continued anti-racism work and commit to more inclusive and diverse workplaces, few are moving forward with guidance and the collaborative professional community to foster the continuous learning and meaningful change. Launched on January 16, 2022, Coalition for Cultural Competence and Equity (C2EC), created by diversity strategist and former ballet dancer Theresa Ruth Howard, aims to create a learning community with the support, education and advocacy that organizations and their leaders need to reimagine and reshape culture and standards of classical arts.

Howard designed C2EC as a membership-based program comprised of leaders interested in working collaboratively with their peers to mainstream the core principles of inclusion, diversity, equity, anti-racism and anti-racism. cultural competence (IDEA and CC as part of Howard) in their organizations and the performing arts field in general. Attendees will have access to Howard’s Curriculum of Change, which addresses the needs of the field, from the pipeline to performance, from the boardroom to the box office and beyond. Individually and as a cohort, participants will also work towards their goals with Howard and his team of subject matter experts on topics such as history, organizational culture transformation, and more. Experts include Greg Jauncey (founder of the new human resources company Theater People, senior director of human resources and training at the Royal Opera House); Alejandra Valarino Boyer (Director of Programs and Partnerships, Seattle Opera); dance historian Linda Monich (Boston Conservatory at Berklee Associate Professor of Dance); Tina Fehlandt (Senior Lecturer in Dance at Princeton University, Marc Morris staging); and Dr Sarah L. Webb (Founder of the Global Colorism Healing Initiative).

Most importantly, C2EC will provide a measure of accountability that was lacking in many promises of change, by encouraging members to be transparent not only within the Coalition, but with their employees, board members, stakeholders. stakeholders, patrons and the public.

As a collaborative coalition, the voices of C2EC participants will shape and shape the work, support and services that Howard and his team will deliver. By design, C2EC is a malleable and adaptable entity to meet the emerging needs of members and the domain as they arise, while remaining true to the intent and mission. origin of the Coalition.

“I entered this job through the conversation about the lack of diversity in ballet,” Howard explains. “When I started working individually with performing arts organizations as a diversity strategist, it became clear that the culture and values ​​of the classical arts were part of the infrastructure that perpetuated the lack diversity, equity and inclusion. Therefore, the next phase of my work is to actively build the models of the new culture in the field of performing arts, a culture which has at its core the concept of citizenship, which implies a sense of personal responsibility and collective and humanity.C2EC will actively promote a practice of community responsibility by encouraging leaders and organizations to hold themselves accountable for the development they want on the ground, regardless of the position or title they hold. . Because we are the village, and we have to be the change we want to see. “

“PNB is delighted to be a part of the deeper engagement and bigger results offered by Theresa Ruth Howard’s Cultural Competency and Equity Coalition,” said Ellen Walker, Executive Director of the Pacific Northwest Ballet, one of the first to attend. C2EC. “Together with the peers of the coalition, we look forward to embracing and embodying the principles of cultural competence, organizational citizenship and the continued embodiment of the IDEA principles. We know that C2EC’s community of learning, collaboration and accountability will benefit our organization and our field in multiple ways. as the ballet continues its essential and dynamic evolution. “

For more details on the Coalition for Cultural Competence and Equity (C2EC) and how to join, visit https://mobalet.org/C2EC/ .

Theresa Ruth Howard is the founder and curator of Memoirs of Blacks in Ballet (MoBBallet.org) a digital platform that preserves, presents and promotes the stories of black ballet dancers. She is an advocate and respected leader in the conversations and work surrounding diversity and culture in ballet and the arts. She is an internationally sought-after diversity strategist, speaker, consultant and coach with artistic, executive and school directors, as well as board members of performing arts organizations. Her background as a dancer (Dance Theater of Harlem and Armitage Gone! Dance) and dance educator makes her uniquely qualified to target, address and facilitate the cultural changes much needed in ballet leadership and the performing arts in general.

In 2015, she collaborated with the International Association of Blacks in Dance (IABD) to organize the inaugural audition for black ballet dancers, facilitating the first-ever dialogue on diversity in ballet with the artistic directors of 15 leading dance organizations. ballet. The Pacific Northwest Ballet hired her to organize and host a town hall titled “Beyond Ballet,” a conversation about aesthetics, diversity, fairness, and efforts to overhaul artistic institutions. His expertise has been sought by Dance / USA, IABD, Dutch National Ballet, National Ballet of Canada, The Royal Ballet, San Francisco Ballet, American Ballet Theater, Opera America and more.

In collaboration with the Dance Theater of Harlem, IABD and Dance / USA, she is a member of the design and facilitation team of “The Equity Project: Increasing Black Presence in Ballet”, a partnership program of three years to support the advancement of racial equity in 21 North American ballet companies.

Howard is a contributor to Dance Magazine, where she constantly tackles controversial topics including diversity in ballet and racial and cultural biases in dance criticism. She has also contributed through her writing to The Source (United States), Pointe (United States), Tanz (Germany) and Expressions Magazine (Italy).


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