At Centre College’s Norton Center for the Arts, we mourn the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Tony McDade, Philando Castile,Tamir Rice, Eric Garner, Michael Brown, Aiyana Stanley-Jones, Alberta Spruill, and every other person who has suffered at the hands of systemic racism and police brutality. To those across the country who have bravely raised their voices against these injustices: We hear you. We see you. We are with you. We know Black Lives Matter.
Furthering Centre College’s recently issued, Statement on Community During These Challenging Times, the Norton Center is focusing on the part of the College statement that acknowledges that Centre “must do more to support its many constituent groups, to be a model campus that cares for, includes, educates, and inspires all those who come our way.”
As an arts space within a higher education institution, we remain committed to representing diverse experiences through exhibits, performances, and other engaging programs. However, we know that we all must do more to impact real change not only on our campus, but in our field at large.
As we navigate the path ahead with help from friends, neighbors, collaborators, supporters, artists, students, and Centre College colleagues, we will work to locate and examine the ways in which the arts industry is part of the narrative of racial oppression and what we should do to connect with audiences that better reflect our community. We pledge to be more intentional as we continue to use Norton Center spaces and platforms to lift the voices of the Black community and other marginalized groups. And, finally, we are committed to educating ourselves so we can scrutinize how systemic racism impacts our work at the Norton Center. As our first point of action, we will work to develop our Strategic Plan to actively address the objectives listed above and will keep pathways open for building on this foundation as we move forward.
As we approach these objectives with intention, we express our deepest gratitude to Centre College’s Office of Diversity and Inclusion, who recently shared a poignant and powerful call to action in the latest issue of their “ODI Matters” publication. We invite you to spend some time reading the perspectives shared in this publication and we encourage you to take further steps alongside us by exploring the dozens of educational resources that have also been included.
The Norton Center staff encourages you to join us in making a meaningful commitment to battle systemic racism in our field, on our campus, and in our country. To our supporters who have been with us, we look forward to continuing to engage with you through our programs. And, to those who may be new to the Norton Center, we welcome you. If you have thoughts, suggestions, or feedback on how we can move forward, please reach out. We are listening.