With support from the New California Arts Fund (NCAF), the Riverside Art Museum (RAM) is engaging the diverse residents of their region through meaningful curation, creation, participation and dialogue relevant to their audiences’ distinct and shared experiences.
RAM has been serving Inland Southern California, one of the most diverse regions in the country, for nearly a century. To be relevant and sustainable, their goal is to reflect the region’s full diversity through their staff, board, and attendees.
In such a diverse environment, rich with opportunity to build relationships, RAM made the strategic decision to conduct market research using in-house staff rather than relying on an external consultant. They’re going out into the community to conduct surveys at block parties, festivals, and other popular gathering spaces - getting to know the names and faces and stories of their community instead of just the statistics they represent. What they are learning is informing their exhibition and programming decisions around great art and related interactive, interpretive, and participatory elements. RAM is also working with different community groups like the Latino Network to partner, collaborate, and share ideas.
RAM learned that there are many people who enjoy artistic and creative pursuits, yet are not connecting with local arts organizations. In response, RAM began offering more opportunities for creators and makers to inhabit their space through artist-driven projects, for example. RAM is also spending more time and resources curating off-site work and supporting off-site artist residencies. They’re working with local University of Redlands students on a cultural asset mapping project to identify artists throughout the community in an online map that could be useful connecting their work with other arts organizations.
RAM is focused on making incremental progress daily, much of the change in the form of new people. Two new staff members, an Exhibitions and Collections Curator and a Community Relations Manager, are helping to bring this work to the core of the organization. With the highly diverse University of California, Riverside in their backyard, RAM has begun offering more internships to local students who can reach authentically into the Latino community. And they’ve doubled the number of non-White trustees on their board.
October 1, 2015 - October 31, 2018
Riverside Art Museum is clear they don’t have all of the answers, but they’re keeping themselves open to questions. Some questions on their mind recently include:
How best to onboard diverse staff and board members into their organization?
How to conduct audience and market research in the community accurately and equitably?
How to create a sustainable model for long term arts engagement?