About the ALCN

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Who is an Art Leader of Color?

Anyone who identifies as ALAANA (African, Latino(a/x), Asian, Arab and Native American) and works within the arts. Membership is open to artists, administrators, curators, entrepreneurs, producers, and anyone else who wants to be force for change.

Our History & Vision

Founded by Links Hall staff members Production Director Brett Swinney and Communications Director Felicia Holman, the Art Leaders of Color Network (ALCN) is a Chicago-based collective, building individual and institutional capacity through the sharing, exchange and implementation of programming insights and ideas as Black people and people of color working in the arts and humanities.
The Art Leaders of Color Network is an ALAANA Centered organization meant to produce, present, and promote the work of self-identified leaders within the Arts. ALCN's mission is to deliver critical presentation insights and initiatives that enlighten and empower artists/ audiences/ critics/ producers/ venues/ donors & funders to seek and support arts programming by creatives of color.

Our Mission

ALCN's mission is to deliver critical presentation insights and initiatives that enlighten and empower artists/ audiences/ critics/ producers/ venues/ donors & funders to seek and support boundary-pushing arts programming by creatives of color.

Why is it important to address the disparity of representation within leadership positions within the arts?

Building Movement Project’s June 2017 study: Race to Lead: Confronting the Nonprofit Racial Leadership Gap by Sean Thomas-Breitfeld and Frances Kunreuther sought to uncover why in the past 15 years there has been no change in the percentage of people of color in Executive Director and CEO roles (20%) despite the shifting demographics of the country at large.

4,385 respondents from all 50 states revealed that there are few differences in terms of qualifications, education, or experience between people of color and whites, and even greater interest from people of color to take on leadership roles in nonprofits.

“Working with young professionals of color, we see that there are great aspirations for them, but not great avenues in terms of organizations investing in them.” – an African American focus group member who participated in the study. Fundamentally, Thomas-Breitfeld and Kunreuther found the leadership gap in terms of race in nonprofits is due to the “assumptions and implicit biases deeply embedded in nonprofit policies, practices and structures.”

Thomas-Breitfeld and Kunreuther offered twelve ways in which the sector can take immediate action to address and correct the current culture including the following specific recommendation under “Create Systems of Support”:

“Aspiring leaders of color should continue to receive the same training and support as their white counterparts to help prepare them for nonprofit executive positions. People of color should also have their own cohorts where they can openly express the ways they experience racialized barriers and find support and advice from their peers including access to networks that can help them advance.”

The ALCN intends to address and correct the current culture in Chicago’s arts ecosystem by being just such a system of support.

The ALCN receives generous support from: