Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Access (IDEA) Committee: One Year In

The Division of the Arts stands for social justice and believes that Black Lives Matter.
The Division released the above statement on our social media channels on June 4, 2020.

In response to George Floyd’s murder in May 2020, the Division of the Arts formed the Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Access (IDEA) Committee to turn our commitment to embrace and serve all members of our diverse arts community into meaningful action.

The Division of the Arts IDEA Committee continues to build and strengthen relationships with campus and community partners embodying IDEA values. In the past year, as we continued navigating a global pandemic, our outreach efforts largely centered around supporting student programming through sponsorship, social media coverage, and other advertising initiatives.

The IDEA Committee concentrated on five areas to improve diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives in the Division: communications, outreach, workplace, programming, and student support. Some highlights of our activities during the 2020-21 academic year include:

  • Invited BIPOC students to take over our social media channels and prioritized messaging in celebration of Black History Month and Asian Pacific Islander Desi American (APIDA) Heritage Month.
  • Sponsored student organization events, including a virtual concert by Grammy-nominated musician Givēon for Black History Month and a virtual Q&A with rapper and organizer Noname for Lit Fest. 
  • Implemented new professional development training requirements in IDEA for all staff to engage in self-education opportunities of their choice, including participation in trainings led by Justified Anger, niNA Collective, and Urban Triage, and attendance at the White Privilege Conference and the UW–Madison Diversity Forum. Staff have also engaged extensively with anti-racism resources in the form of books, films, podcasts, webinars, and presentations.
  • Engaged three BIPOC keynote speakers (Michele Byrd-McPhee, Dr. Adrienne Keene, and Emmanuel Pratt) for the a2ru 2020 National Conference, Land & Equity: The Art and Politics of Place.
  • Established Artivism Student Action Plan (ASAP) Fund, details forthcoming.

The work is just a start in the lifelong process of dismantling racism, both for individual staff members and the organization. Artists have used the power of their work to advocate for substantial change. It is also through art that we can better connect and understand one another. The Division pledges to continue our pursuit of a truly inclusive, diverse, equitable, and accessible world. 

As we look to the future, we are excited to continue expanding the efforts of this past year in order to build strong, strategic, and supportive relationships with student organizations and community members. In the next year, we hope to continue the work by reviewing internal policies and procedures, overhauling our hiring process, and attending more in-depth trainings to deepen our understanding and continue along our path of personal growth.

We would like to thank Interim Director Sue Zaeske for her support of and commitment to IDEA efforts and we welcome incoming Director Chris Walker and his ideas and leadership in this space.

Below is a more complete list of the initiatives the IDEA Committee completed around inclusion, diversity, equity, and access during the 2020-21 academic year.


  • Published IDEA webpage on DotA website in summer 2020
  • Outlined process for drafting statements of solidarity
  • Continuously amplified BIPOC artists on social media
  • Established process for uploading closed captions to new YouTube videos
  • Provided communication access real-time translation (CART) captioning during virtual Arts Business Competition finals in April 2021 via McBurney Disability Resource Center


  • Renewed memberships with the Latino Chamber of Commerce of Dane County and the Wisconsin LGBT Chamber of Commerce
  • Doubled advertising spend in local publications focused on BIPOC and LGBTQ communities (including The Cap City Hues, Madison Vibra, Madison365, and Our Lives) from AY 2019-20 to AY 2020-21
  • Established relationships with UW–Madison’s WUD Publications Committee and Black Cultural Center through support of capstone events, Lit Fest keynote and Black History Month keynote
  • Identified registered student organizations to partner and build relationships with for 2021-22 academic year


  • In October 2020, implemented new professional development training requirements in IDEA for all staff, with 90% of staff completing the minimum 12 hours and 50% of staff completing additional hours to date
  • Curated a detailed list of IDEA resources for staff that includes recommended books, films, videos, podcasts, and websites
  • Started an IDEA staff library


  • Added UW–Madison Institutional Statement on Diversity to calls for submissions for the 2021 Creative Arts Awards and 2021-2022 Interdisciplinary Arts Residency Program and the 2022-23 Interdisciplinary Artist-in-Residence Teaching Program; added language to encourage applications from as diverse a group of eligible campus arts community members as possible
  • Engaged three BIPOC keynote speakers (Michele Byrd-McPhee, Dr. Adrienne Keene, and Emmanuel Pratt) for the a2ru 2020 National Conference, Land & Equity: The Art and Politics of Place
  • Organized Speaking of #BlackintheIvory: Amplifying the Black, Indigenous, and People of Color Experience at a2ru and on Our Campuses two-part student voices panel series for the a2ru 2020 National Conference
  • Presented fall 2020 Interdisciplinary Arts Residency with Michele Byrd-McPhee, focused on the history, contributions, and experiences of women in Hip-Hop; three residency guest artists were women of color (Ursula Rucker, Maori Holmes, and LaTasha Barnes)
  • Coordinated class visits with two guest artists of color (Faisal Abdu’Allah and Reshma Gajjar) for the spring 2021 Interdisciplinary Arts Residency with Litza Bixler
  • Confirmed fall 2021 Interdisciplinary Arts Residency with Arun Luthra, which will examine rhythm as a phenomenon in the natural world, colonialism, and diaspora as reflected in music
  • Provided financial support to The MOVE Project

Student Support

  • Established new Graduate Student Creative Arts Award that provides six awards of $2,000 in support of artistic performances, exhibitions (including curatorial exhibitions), readings, and research necessary to develop arts programming
  • Established Artivism Student Action Plan (ASAP) Fund, details forthcoming