DEI Task Force

The Baxter St / YoungArts DEI Task Force is a group of nonprofit organizations working to strengthen and diversify their organizations as they increase equity, resilience, and impact across the cultural sector. The DEI Task Force is rooted in a rich process of equity-based transformation at Baxter St at the Camera Club of New York, led since 2011 by President Michi Jigarjian. 

Jigarjian recognized that many small arts organizations were striving to center equity and develop inclusive leadership. While these organizations were committed, resilient, and accustomed to making the most of limited resources, they had limited bandwidth to create, implement or afford impactful DEI plans on their own. 

In fall 2020, together with collaborative partner Sarah Arison, Chair of YoungArts, Baxter St engaged the Maven Leadership Collective, a DEI consultancy. The DEI Task Force’s 15 partner organizations then embarked on a yearlong process of frank self-assessment, strategy sessions, and group learning. Their activities will also inform the creation of a scalable equity toolkit to be shared freely with other local and national organizations. Like Baxter St, a 137-year-old organization committed to uplifting emerging artists, Task Force members embrace the idea that creating diverse, equitable, and inclusive environments; sharing ideas and resources; and learning together can—and will—create profound and lasting change in organizations and communities.

The Baxter St / YoungArts DEI Collective is made up of fifteen organizations: Aperture Foundation, Artists Space, Baxter St at the Camera Club of New York, Creative Capital, Creative Time, The Drawing Center, Eyebeam, Leslie-Lohman Museum of Art, Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, YoungArts, New York Live Arts, Performance Space New York, Printed Matter*, Project for Empty Space, and Recess. Michi Jigarjian of Baxter St and Sarah Arison of YoungArts chair the DEI Collective’s Steering Committee, along with the Maven Leadership Collective. Funding for the initiative is provided by 7G Foundation.

About Baxter St

Baxter St at the Camera Club of New York is an artist-run arts organization and exhibition space that supports and activates the community of lens-based contemporary artists by offering workspace residencies, a dynamic program and talk series as well as memberships. Founded in 1884, Baxter St is one of New York’s oldest artist-run nonprofit spaces fostering the development of emerging lens-based artists at critical moments of their careers.

Baxter St at the Camera Club of New York operates as a 501(c)3 arts organization and is located at 126 Baxter St and 128 Baxter St. Its programming and exhibitions are supported by the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, in partnership with the City Council, the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature, The Jerome Foundation, 7G Foundation, The Tierney Family Foundation, Steven Amedee Fine Custom Framing, Fujifilm of North America, Yarden Winery. Baxter St at the Camera Club of New York is W.A.G.E. certified.

About Maven Leadership Collective

Maven Leadership Collective is an ideas lab that harnesses the power of diversity and belonging to build resilient communities that thrive in the face of crisis, transition, and tragedy. They specialize in inspiring talented change agents who are at a critical juncture in their careers or in the lifecycle of the organizations seeking to create solutions that drive performance and promote sustainability. Maven launched their signature leadership development program in 2017. They scaled their program to include Orlando in 2018 to support communities impacted by the Pulse tragedy and Hurricane Maria.

About YoungArts

YoungArts was established in 1981 by Lin and Ted Arison. YoungArts identifies the most accomplished young artists in the visual, literary and performing arts, and provides them with creative and professional development opportunities throughout their careers.

Entrance into this prestigious organization starts with a highly competitive application process for talented artists ages 15–18, or grades 10-12, in the United States, that is judged by esteemed discipline-specific panels of artists through a rigorous blind adjudication process. In their first year, YoungArts winners, who represent the top 10% of applicants, receive valuable financial awards of up to $10,000; presentation opportunities at renowned institutions; and the chance to learn from notable artists and mentors such as Debbie Allen, Mikhail Baryshnikov, Frank Gehry, Wynton Marsalis, Salman Rushdie and Mickalene Thomas in intimate settings.