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Jamaica Center for Arts and Learning

Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Accessibility Plan (DEIA)

Mission Statement

The Jamaica Center for Arts & Learning (JCAL), founded in 1972, is a multidisciplinary arts center based in the diverse community of Southeast Queens. It is devoted to offering quality visual, performing, and literary arts, and to provide accessible arts education programs that encourage participation in the arts.

History

Jamaica Center for Arts and Learning (JCAL) is the one and only multidisciplinary urban arts center located within the diverse community of Southeast Queens. Created in 1972 as part of an effort to revitalize Downtown Jamaica, JCAL has earned a reputation for showcasing the talents of legendary and up and coming local artists and performers, inspiring youth to take an interest in the arts, and creating dynamic multicultural programs that have been engaged by all generations and local residents.

 

Over the years, JCAL has grown from a community organization into a CIG with a mission to reach out and represent the ever-growing culturally complex population and to engage even the smallest enclave of diversely self-identified members of the community. JCAL is an equal opportunity organization in all ways especially in today's world of identifying oneself beyond one's ethnic identity; we welcome all and do our best to consider programming that will reach each of Queens and NYC's community members and tourists.

Vision

JCAL vision - to ensure that its two building campus and programs create a safe space that honors, respects and welcomes all people with the following categorized identity markers along with welcoming new self created Identity markers as a testament to human uniqueness and a place where we can collectively celebrate individuality. Our vision is meant to hold all of JCAL’s spaces, programs and practices as sacred and meant to honor our cultures and creativity. Every day, we seek ways to actively promote and recognize principles of fairness and equity, in relation to, and across, intersections of race, age, color, disability, faith, religion, ancestry, national origin, citizenship, sex, sexual orientation, social class, economic class, ethnicity, gender identity, gender expression, and all other identities represented among our diverse communities. JCAL is committed to be a safe creative incubator, an institution that advances Jamaica as the unique resource of arts and culture for residents and visitors in Queens, New York City, and beyond.

Executive Summary

Diversity is a defining feature of JCAL's past, present and future. JCAL, residing in one of the most diverse cities in the world, celebrates and promote diversity in all its forms since its inception.  The Jamaica community first came together in creating JCAL as a means of correcting an imbalance in the greater cultural landscape - to include artists who were denied access because of their race, gender, and proximity to Manhattan. Since that time, JCAL has consistently proven that there is value in the alternative. However, communities are not static and the Jamaica neighborhood has changed dramatically since the 1970s. JCAL has always worked to remain true to its principles by engaging with the extremely varied artists of Queens. This DEIA process has shown us that our framework, while successful, is reactionary. At a time when the boundaries of gender are shifting and the fluctuations of immigrant populations are causing rapid (and positive) upheaval to the status quo, we have learned that with the right process in place JCAL can reside at the vanguard of these changes - thereby providing support for the most vulnerable in our communities.

 

During a time in which identities are being used to divide, JCAL firmly believes that arts and culture are vital components to forging mutual understanding and building a sustainable society. JCAL dedicates its space and programming to the pursuit of collaboration and the celebration of the multiplicitous perspectives that diverse life experiences bring. All people are welcomed, respected and nurtured in their artistic and social development at JCAL.

Process

Our first step was to conduct an internal scan of our current practices and perceptions, which included input from all staff and board members. A consultant firm was brought in through DCLA's support to work with senior staff members to start the interview and drafting process. The senior staff held meetings with junior staff members and included their input in the comments given to the consultant firm. The senior staff members include Asian, LatinX, African American, and Caucasian from a diverse age spectrum, physical abilities and gender identities representing the heads of departments across JCAL's program and operations.  The updated draft of this plan will again be reviewed and approved by the Board of Directors. 

Definitions (as per the NYC Culture Plan, Create NYC)

Diversity: Diversity is all of the ways in which we differ.  Among these dimensions are age, gender, mental/physical abilities and characteristics, race, ethnic heritage, sexual orientation, communications style, organizational role and level, first language, religion, income, work experience, military experience, geographic location, education, work style, and family status.  JCAL is also open to understanding and adding self-identifying moniquers that are not a part of the existing American (colonial based) definitions.

The definition of diverse communities includes those marginalized groups that have historically experienced a lack of access to financial resources and/or social and organizational mobility. We note the significant and vital interconnection, overlap, and intersectionality between these communities.

Equity: Improving equity means promoting justice, impartiality, and fairness within the procedures and processes of institutions or systems, as well as in their distribution of resources.

Inclusion:  Inclusion refers to the degree to which all people, including people with disabilities, with diverse perspectives and backgrounds are able to participate fully in the decision-making processes of an organization or group and in all elements of an organization, performance, event, or programs. While a truly inclusive group is necessarily diverse, a diverse group may or may not be “inclusive.”

Access: Improving access means reducing economic, social, communication, and physical barriers to inclusive participation. Accessibility describes the degree to which an environment, service, product, or program allows access and eliminates barriers to participation by diverse or underrepresented communities, especially people with disabilities.

DCLA plan DEI: acronym for "Diversity, Equity & Inclusion"
JCAL’s inclusion of Accessibility IDEA: acronym for "Inclusion, Diversity, Equity & Accessibility" or DEIA “Diversity, Equity, Inclusion & Accessibility”

Adding Accessibility (the A) to JCAL’s DEIA plan: To understand programming priorities and how to best serve the diverse population of Southeast Queens communities the newly formed programming department, prior to and during work on the DEI plan, initiated projects Building Equity for Immigrant, Indigenous and Native American artists in Southeast Queens (Building Equity) as well as engaging in discovery of the area’s plethora of “identity markers” / “identity monikers” through the project The World of Queens. Working on these two projects made it clear that JCAL’s DEI plan needs to include Accessibility because it also deals with not only the physical space but also the conceptual, emotional and philosophical/spiritual space.

  • A summary of the Building Equity includes a deconstruction of producing and presenting events (using seven pillars of producing/presenting and each pillar’s coinciding constituent groups) at Jamaica Center for Arts and Learning, a center that is Western Centric in its architecture and has a history shaped by Jamaica Queens’ historic African diaspora. By continuing to serve JCAL’s deep-rooted community and expanding its programmatic reach it is broadening its definition of presenting and producing the arts paying close attention to many of the underserved community members of Immigrant, Indigenous and Native American’s encompassed within the Asian, LatinX, Arab, African and Native American (ALAANA) communities of the Southeast Queens area.
     

  • The World of Queens program project initiated by Director of Programming Catherine A. Peila to inform all departments of the cultural demographics of the area and to share with the visitors of JCAL. (an exhibit of where JCAL’s visitors reside, their cultural roots, and how they would like to be identified - gender choice, veteran, etc) has proven to show the complexity of an individuals’ desire to uniquely describe their own identity monikers rather than fill out a box that might closely resemble who they might be or in which group they belong.

OUR PEOPLE: STAFF

GOAL

Recruiting, Application Process, and Outreach

Retention, Promotion, and Professional Development

Fair and Equitable Salary Standards

Diverse and Equitable Leadership

Have a hiring and recruiting policy and practice that is aligned with our DEIA posture and is and equitable and inclusive.

Develop a standardized protocol for application that is open and equally accessible to all.

 

Clarity with internal goals and qualifying advancement.

Foster an open communication between managers, staff and executive leaders.

Foster professional development
programming and systems that are open and accessible to all. 

Ensure Equitable Payment with
budget inclusion of wage increase.

 

Support retention through fair pay standards and acknowledgement of work.

 

Ensure that the senior leadership of the organization is reflective of the constituents & communities we serve.

Ensure job descriptions for senior positions value diverse experiences and backgrounds and remove
unnecessary barriers for applicants. 

INDICATOR

Policies are reviewed and revised on the established timeline. 
Increased application from a wide variety of applicants.

Process is the same regardless of department, manager, or position.

 

Transparent leadership goals. Staff as a team set organizational goals and benchmarks with links between departments. Feasibility review.

We have formalized processes and more mechanisms that foster
opportunities for communication
and alert staff to the process. 

Establish training resources that are relevant, effective, and responsive to the needs of our staff and the audiences we serve.

 

Research of industry standards and setting overall responsibilities and wages.

 

Board and Staff accountability for Industry standard input; manage accountability through reporting and transparent budgeting process; create a non-biased value matrix for raises based on DEIA plan and evaluation of training participation, unified goal development.

Data Arts Survey/internal data, Survey & Feedback regarding how leadership is linked to the success between programming and staff inclusion - experience, cultural
vision, etc.

Diversity of thought, cultural
heritage, conceptual thinking and creative process.

TACTICS

Review all policies and procedures to align with DEIA plan. Broaden reach through expanded communication outlets (multi -lingual, -cultural)

Create a transparent application process including existing staff in process. 

Standardized Reporting on obstacles and successes through solution
benchmarks.


Standardize the current staff
evaluation system to be conducted for each employee on an annual
basis.

Create a list of training resources that the organization can use and refer employees to or require completion of when situations arise to respond to specific employee feedback. 

Create a standardized organizational chart

 

Updated matrix of earnings per industry standards; include internal equitable salary standards
measurements; include standard of living increases per industry
expectations

Adopt a diverse candidate slate policy for senior positions. Create pathways to promotions within the organization. 

Ensure the Job description for senior leadership employs language and an approach that is inclusive and:

1. avoids gendered & other exclusionary language,

2. uses experience and education equivalence.

3. is task-outcome oriented. 
 

OUR PEOPLE: BOARD

Board Recruitment & Cultivation

GOAL

Increase the diversity of the Board to reflect the community JCAL served

INDICATOR

Data Arts Survey/internal data 

TACTICS

Create a DEIA Board committee with this charge.

Provide DEIA and implicit bias training to raise awareness and guard against biased language and tokenization in the Board recruitment process.

Board Member Retention & Inclusion

Ensure the Board is a place where all members feel welcomed and valued and not tokenized or marginalized. 

Success in retention and attraction of a diverse board membership. 

Conduct regular Board surveys to gather input and address areas of weakness.

Using annual retreat to offer professional development program for Board members.

Diverse and Equitable Leadership

Demonstrate our commitment to diverse and equitable leadership from the highest levels of the organization.

Surveys/feedback 

Implement and regularly update the succession planning approach/policy to ensure equity and diversity.

Evaluate leaders' demonstration of their understanding of our DEIA Statement (and/or staff impact) in their annual review.

OUR PROGRAMS/COMMUNITY

GOAL

Diversity in Programming

Public programming that reflects and celebrates the diversity of the communities we serve with a focus on the smaller, harder to reach communities in Queens.

INDICATOR

Utilize Program Matrix that outlines qualities of programming,
relationship to mission, community engagement needs, DEIA elements and outreach

 

Programming presented accurately reflecting a growing and expanding sustainable program schedule and a diversely mixed revenue stream.

TACTICS

Initiated: Two tiers of program committees1) external constituent advisory council of core leaders including immigrant and indigenous artists/ producers with an ad hoc outer circle culled through personal  outreach and research into cultural communities in smaller
neighborhoods and cultural cliques; and 2) an internal council including non-programming departments, who contribute ideas around particular community programming.

Understanding our Communities

For JCAL to create an ongoing dialogue with their community and audiences that can encourage sharing self identifying markers that reflect their personal cultural vision.

 

Update programming process to better utilize programming opportunities to support and showcase local artists.

Active Audience response with feedback & Staff Outreach into community

Increase in local artist and artisan participation.

Utilizing JCAL’s Building Equity
project that gathers a Diversity
Council to work with JCAL staff to conduct an internal programming audit/evaluation of existing
programming plans; identify the gaps and reassess.

Create an online platform that invites local artists to introduce  their ideas regarding styles, disciplines,
methods, newly identified
possibilities.

Outreach to underserved community, Create partnerships

Expand our audience to include more underrepresented areas of our community/communities creating sustainable long lasting partnerships with organizations and cultural groups.

Partnerships Sustained and Audience Surveys capturing demographics

Create partnership opportunities for exposure of artists across other cultural institutions and include multiple languages. Include cross-institutional marketing and
engagement of local artists amongst Queens CIGS and community
groups.

Equal Access to Programming

Maximize the accessibility of our programs for all. Increased Awareness: Inclusion through cultural request markers including culturally rooted programs, multi-language, mixed ability protocols, underserved community awareness; age equity,

External: online participation and in person survey, artist and audience participation in programs. including 

Internal: diversified program matrix based on community demographics shows DEIA programming for each project.

Program Matrix is DEIA aware and sensitive linking programs and - marketing, engagement,
participation, collaborations and partnerships.

 

External: Create an online platform and process for Engagement. Audiences comment on
preferences; why not attending. 

Internal: maintain and expand programs that are inclusive of the type of art or way an artform is to be presented or offered. Include craft people and hobbyists working with larger institutions attended by audiences. 

Advertise in a wider cross-section of community based publications; Apply mixed-ability protocols. Create alternative transportation options to reach the institution (e.g. a sponsored trolley for special events, weekends) 
 

Create greater visibility for JCAL programs, artists and community.

Reach NYC five Boroughs and the greater state of New York. With a future goal of creating a cross-state and international reach

Internal: Greater interest in JCAL programs. Information gathered through online platform and in person surveys.

External: increased stories in online media, social media, radio,
television, new stories, reviews, and international communications

 

Update and expand relationships with news, social media, cultural outlets. 

Engage community and artists to share stories about their experiences, their arts and add them to JCAL and partner channels. 

Reach out to all constituents political, funder, sponsors, community, etc. creating partnership engagement programs 
 

OUR CULTURE

GOAL

Inclusive Organizational Culture

Our institution supports diverse identities, forms of expression, learning and communication styles, family structures, cultures and religions, particularly among the groups that have been historically marginalized. 

Be an institution that includes and values the voices of those from underrepresented communities and historically marginalized groups.

Ensure that every member of the staff at every level of the organization feels included into a welcoming
organizational culture.

 

INDICATOR

Conduct a regular survey of the staff on how well the organization is embracing and demonstrating its DEIA goals.

Include creating an HR process and hire an independent HR expert.


Utilize matrix to create transparency and accountability.

Staff Surveys that engage the individual to define and describe “welcome” culture.  Feedback
includes feelings of welcome and ways of strengthening weak areas. 

TACTICS

Draft organizational DEIA
statement and incorporate the DEIA statement widely throughout the internal communication of the organization including posting it, including in email signatures, on written memos etc.

Include implicit bias and
harassment training as well as a
detailed review of our
organization's DEIA statement, staff pact and DEIA Plan as part of staff on-boarding training.

Institute an anonymous reporting system for
microaggressions/complaints (these are things like "jokes" and comments about a person's identity and is accompanied by language in the handbook that encourages such reporting and reviewing quarterly).

Communication

Staff have a safe and fair protocol and process to share successes. concerns and complaints.

Safe and Fair process

Tracking of complaints/Staff
Surveys / Engage an HR support staff member to manage complaints

Create a process manual for reporting and whistleblowing
protection; include in staff manual

Institute an anonymous reporting system for
microaggressions/complaints

Review policy for reporting complaints to ensure that there are multiple reporting mechanisms and a clear chain of reporting. 

Training

Increase the availability of regularly scheduled trainings (mandatory and voluntary) in all areas noted throughout this Plan. See a list of all potential trainings in the endnotes.*

 

Maximize individuals’ access to training for upward mobility or based on organizational and personal goals

Institute matrix for attendance levels of staff training; include sequential upward mobility training​

 

Engage in Industry standard
professional development

Institute quarterly refresher trainings for staff by way of a "train the trainer" model that allows designated "trainer" staff to administer training.

 

Peer training

OUR PLACE

GOAL

Accessible and Inclusive Space

The institution actively creates a physical environment in which all people, regardless of condition or limitation, have equal access.

INDICATOR

There are clear indicators
throughout the building of our inclusive posture.

TACTICS

Materials are offered in a variety of languages to accommodate employees and visitors.  

All new bathroom design and signage is inclusive of all gender identities.

DEIA Statement, Staff Pacts and Community Agreement are all posted in staff areas. 

ACCOUNTABILITY & REPORTING

GOAL

Accountability

Ensure organizational
accountability to the plan and its goals. Includes budget
transparency shared with staff for fulfillment of department goals

INDICATOR

Tactics are implemented on the timeline and goals met within the lifetime of the plan.

 

Set Reporting time frames

TACTICS

Continue the meetings and work of the DEIA staff committee that was convened (OR) establish such a committee to oversee implementation (aka "Oversight Committee").

TIMEFRAME

Ongoing for life of the Plan

Tracking

Track progress regularly and adjust the plan as needed.

A tracking system exists and is used.

Create a tracking mechanism such as a report card or progress update form.

Indicated -term per Action and Goal

Y1 (short-term)

Ys2-3 (mid-term)

Ys4-6 (long-term)

Accountability Matrix

Created per section of DEIA plan includes setting goals,
benchmarks and resources/tools needed to succeed.

 

Assign accountability

Developed transparently with Department heads based on mission / vision. Follows structure of DEIA plan

 

Accountability reports on
success/setbacks with
suggested solutions

Matrix linked to individual progress report, leadership accountability.

Provide annual progress reports to the Full Board or Board committee.

Y1 (short-term)

Ys2-3 (mid-term)

Ys4-6 (long-term)

 

Ongoing for life of plan and process