Statera Envisions the Future
by Melinda Pfundstein, Executive Director of StateraArts
We are often asked what Statera wants for the future – for our vision so-to-speak, and our quick response has always been, “For our mission to be made obsolete. Force us to rewrite it.” The mission of bringing women* into full and equal participation in the arts serves as our guide, but Statera is looking forward and doing things a little differently.
We envision a new normal where the work is no longer about advocating and building space, pathways, and support for women (our current mission), but rather to be engaged in the important work of acting as stewards to the space that exists.
We posit that there is enough space and we are actively disrupting the habit of pretending there is not, or that we need to compete for it. We know that this work requires all of us, and we hear from you: the communities we serve and our collaborative partners, reflecting to us the importance of this way of operating. You tell us of our refreshing spirit of collaboration. You reflect your appreciation and relief at how we operate through positive action and possibility.
All of this is because we set out to do things differently. This way of operating requires our own team -- every day, to disrupt and dismantle our own ingrained beliefs about competition and lack. As we do so, we challenge the same of our sector. It is a conscious choice and requires continuous practice. We hear you. We serve you. Thank you for sharing your reflections with us, for our vision is clear:
STATERA, deriving its name from the Latin word for balance,
normalizes a humane and holistic creative environment that nourishes innovation.
What does this mean?
Allow us to tell you a little about our values:
We believe the arts should be created by and for more people.
The stories we tell matter, in every medium expressed. They shape our lives. They educate us. They show us a better way. They keep us honest and hopeful. If received with inquiry and curiosity they offer a most precious gift: the opportunity to self-interrogate and grow. All people deserve to see themselves represented in art.
We believe all people deserve to show up as their most whole and authentic selves.
Every single person deserves to bring their whole being to their work, their art, and their collaborations. Environments not conducive to showing up whole force us to wear a protective shell and hide our beautiful intersections and multi-faceted identities. When we can show up authentically to our work, we engage the magic of possibility, true collaborative spirit, great compassion, and radical innovation for previously unimagined solutions. Aren’t these the attributes we crave in our creative sector? When people show up whole and are appreciated for their individual strengths and perspectives, “work” is easeful (not to be confused with easy) and energizing. This leads to greater job satisfaction, higher production, and lower attrition rates. Furthermore, we posit that the future of the arts needs all of us to show up whole to remain relevant. We need each other whole.
We believe in the responsibility to actively foster humane and holistic work environments.
As we change the landscape of the arts so that all people can show up more wholly in their work, we must interrogate the way we operate. As more intersections are represented within our organizations, so grows the requirement for thinking outside of the box about making our professional environments supportive of these intersections. This is not about “performing” inclusion but about committing to integrated bone-deep inquiry through a feminist, anti-racist lens.
We believe in collaboration.
The message we hear most from women is one of isolation. Statera holds that isolation is a lie. Sarah Greenman, Statera’s Operations Director, shared her own practice of scribing this phrase at the top of every written draft and we have adopted it organization-wide as a reminder of why we choose collaboration over competition. There is enough space. We are simply not in the practice of using it by and for more people.
We believe in leading with compassion.
The change we seek is not an overnight fix. Learning takes time, and we value deep learning that leads to implementation rather than broad strokes for checking boxes and quotas. The nonprofit arts sector relies on the good will of our teams and communities, paid and unpaid. It is our responsibility as makers and collaborators to take care of one another. At Statera, we foster respect and celebrate one another’s strengths. When it comes to organizational culture, we trust that those in positions of power will do the right thing and to take care of their people. Leaders must operate in a state of radical inquiry rather than one of knowing. We do not know what we do not know… until we know it. And once we know it, we must lean into the discomfort of learning how to do more– and then do it.
We believe in practice.
We actively interrogate and disrupt our own outdated habits, beliefs, and blindspots as an organization. We learn from our peers and we partner with organizations doing – and ready to be doing the same. Practice makes possibility.
In coming days, we will announce the first of many partnerships that actively disrupt isolation and allow us to work together to make our vision for the future of the arts a reality. This is our way of actively disrupting competitive culture – a paralytic habit that seemingly runs rampant. How do we breathe into slow art and make incremental, lasting change and at the same time, drive for sweeping, topsy-turvy, revolutionary transformation in our sector? We do it together.
Would you like to know more? www.stateraarts.org
*A NOTE ON INCLUSION AT STATERA
Women: Statera recognizes the limiting nature of the binary use of woman. We serve and welcome anyone on the gender spectrum who identifies either always or some of the time as a woman. We also serve and welcome those who identify as non-binary.
Intersectionality: StateraArts works through an intersectional lens for gender parity. We understand and acknowledge that systems of oppression and discrimination are interdependent and span all social categorizations such as race, class, gender, ability, religion, parental status, size, age, and sexual orientation as they apply to a given individual or group. Addressing one spoke of systematic discrimination or disadvantage means holistically addressing them all.