NOMA recognizes the legitimate issues in front of us and embraces the responsibility to address them. We apologize to our staff, the community-at-large and #dismantleNOMA for any hurt we have caused. We have spent the past week directing our energies inward, seeking a better understanding of how we can create a more transparent and open work environment. Now, together, NOMA’s board, leadership and staff are creating an agenda for change, recognizing that this is a dedicated and ongoing process.
We also recognize that our internal practices have not been as welcoming or as inclusive as we would like them to be. We know there is work to do for NOMA, both internally and externally. We are committed to our BIPOC and LGBTQ community members and will show our commitment through our actions. In the coming weeks and months ahead we are committed to doing the following:
Organizational Culture and Structure
- Increasing the representation of BIPOC in our board membership to 25% in each year over the next three years;
- Instituting facilitated staff and community conversations to ensure that all voices are being heard and to ensure that we do the work to address each of our own failings while advocating for improved institutional systems. This will begin immediately and be ongoing;
- Developing an Internal Task Force focused on increasing a culture of inclusivity in NOMA’s staff. This cross-departmental Task Force will work with staff to create an enhanced awareness, sensitivity to differences and to foster an appreciation for what unifies us as an institution of many voices. This work begins immediately and will be ongoing;
- Improving our hiring practices. We can do better and we will. When we are able to rehire, we are 100% committed to expanding the diversity of our staff, in every department, at all levels;
- Making an independent, outside ombudsperson available for employee relations needs and having such a person in place as soon as is practical but no later than the end of the year; and
- Issuing regular progress reports to our communities, both internal and external, on our progress regarding these tasks before us. We acknowledge that we should communicate more transparently our actions, efforts and intentions. We promise that this agenda for change will keep us on a path to be all that we can be for our community.
As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and NOMA’s sustained closure, we have suffered severe revenue losses to date, and anticipate losses to affect staff and operations well into 2021. Notwithstanding, NOMA is committed to allocating resources to support our agenda for change.
As we open the museum in the coming days, we invite visitors to provide us with feedback on our exhibitions, installations and works of art. We want to hear from you. These comments will be open to our entire staff, not just a committee of a few, and will be incorporated into our planning across the board.
Art and Experience
NOMA is committed to continuing to develop content and collections through the lens of racial equity and social justice. To this end:
- NOMA is committing the rest of its 2020 art acquisition funds to acquire works by BIPOC artists, focusing particularly on those who are from, or work in, New Orleans. We recognize that the museum’s collection is not currently reflective of the community it serves, and consider this a first step towards a larger re-examination of NOMA’s collecting practices and a renewed commitment to diversifying the museum’s permanent collection;
- NOMA has closed The Greenwood Parlor. NOMA recognizes that we failed to take into account community voices and perspectives with this installation and we are working on a procedure for incorporating those voices in a path forward.
We recognize that this is only the beginning. Our actions will define our place in our community.
UPDATE: A previous version of this statement has been corrected to reflect that NOMA will commit to increasing the representation of BIPOC in our board membership to 25% in each year over the next three years rather than within a full span of three years.