Diversity in Arts Forum!

The HR Group, is an organization in Greensboro that provides customized human resource support and consulting services to organizations of all sizes and types. For the past 3 years, David Moff, the CEO of the HR Group, has encouraged Greensboro’s business people to become engergized around diversity through the Diversity Forums.

  I met David a few months back through Judi Rossabi when they approached the African American Atelier about participating in the Diversity in Arts Forum.  He is a really down to earth and genuine CEO.  During our discussion, he let me know that Steve Reinemund, the Dean of Wake Forest University Schools of Business, had recently come to speak at one of the HR Group’s events.  He made sure I took his contact information, and told me to find him on linkedin as soon as possible.

On Thursday, January 20th, I had the opportunity to participate in the HR Group’s Diversity in Arts Forum, alongside of Tom Philion, the CEO/President of the United Arts Council of Greater Greensboro; Dr. Alma Adams, Co-Founder of the African American Atelier; and Duane Cyrus, Founder/Artistic Director of Cyrus Art Production and Alvin Ailey dancer.  Each of the speakers focused on the need for diversity in the arts for empowerment of individuals and the vitality of a community.  

Tom Philion spoke about diversity from the perspective of determining what is legitimate.  As former President at Eastern Music Festival, and Executive Director of the Seattle Symphony, he was often confronted with the conversation of what is “good music”. Once this concept arises, when there are no longer diverse perspectives, we automatically reject other music.  Philion also spoke about the need for a cultural hub in the city of Greensboro, and the importance of the Greensboro Cultural Arts Center.

Representative Alma Adams, one of my mentors, is the co-founder of the African American Atelier. She also serves as a state legislator and a professor of Visual Arts at Bennett College for Women.  I’ve heard Dr. Adams speak on numerous occasions, but for some reason her words resonated so much with me during this speech.  The importance for us to understand diversity, and to recognize that there are differences, and in those differences, we are one.

Duane Cyrus is an Associate Professor of Dance at the University of North Carolina – Greensboro.  Duane a is truly a renaissance man.  He has a MFA from the University of Julliard, he has danced with Alvin Ailey and the Martha Graham Dance Company, and author of Vital Grace, a photographic essay on male dances of color.  During the forum Duane presented two of his choreographed works, reflecting on slavery in American, and the united experience that all Americans had as a result of the civil rights movement.  I hope he doesn’t hate me for posting this, but here is an excerpt from A Seat in History.

It was great to see so many people in the arts community surrounded around the theme of diversity. And it is always great to see people who I have always looked up to in the community, like Fred Motley, and Steve Summerford.

I’ll leave you with these words, an excerpt from the call that I made to Greensboro’s [he]ART community to do it differently for diversity:

Our responsibility should be to enhance individuals, by showcasing the experiences of people who vary in thought. And to provide a venue for the interaction amongst these different groups, whether they differ in age, religion, ethnicity, class, gender, sexual orientation, educational background, geographic region, or in physical ability.

So. How do we do diversity differently? The first step is by empowering and utilizing the people who are right here in our communities.  We should create opportunities and resources for the free flow and exchange of thoughts from individuals who don’t resemble ourselves or our organizations

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