White Paper: "The Color Line and US Cultural Policy: An Essay with Dialogue"

Roberto Bedoya

From time to time, The National Alliance for Media Arts and Culture publishes white papers on issues of relevance to the cultural sector. Roberto Bedoya, Executive Director of the Tucson Pima Arts Council, wrote a paper entitled, "The Color Line and US Cultural Policy," that we are offering as a downloadable pdf.

Abstract: Roberto Bedoya's paper, "The Color Line and US Cultural Policy: An Essay with Dialogue," asks the question: What do democratically informed policy practices look like? Drawing on his 25 years of experience in the cultural sector as well as several other "guiding spirits", Roberto examines the deficiencies in cultural policy assumptions, formation and research mythologies as they relate to the allocation of resources and the articulation of value in the cultural sector. He argues there is a strong bias at work in many cultural policy research efforts to privilege the notion of objectivity, along with a reluctance to engage with the social meanings and motives framing this research. Further, he posits that communities of color are most affected by the impact of Western research methodologies and he offers the concept of "stewardship" as a new framing term for the policy community. Stewardship, he explains, is the idea where cultural policy makers and assessors measure an organization’s success by listening and learning about the stories, images and worldviews that drive an organization’s mission instead of the purely empiricist research prevalent in most cultural sector research methodologies today.

Download PDF