The 2018 National Summit and Expo on Diversity in the Arts

A conference to tackle the difficult questions. Here's what you can expect.


You are invited to attend the 2018 National Summit and Expo on Diversity in the Arts hosted by W.H.I.T.E.S. (Working to Help Institutions Talk about Equality and Stuff). Every year, we bring together some of the most prominent thought leaders alongside the most exhausted, underpaid arts professionals in the creative sector to discuss why our field urgently needs to address diversity. In this current political climate (read: Trump administration), the arts play a critical role in highlighting what connects us instead of what separates us. Now more than ever (read: we’re still talking about Trump), those of us in the arts must take a vague and decidedly non-political stand for inclusion and diversity (read: some of our donors voted for Trump).

Story continues below.

What is diversity? We don’t actually know. Over the next few days, we will use the term as a euphemism, with problematic phrases such as “diverse individual.” That said, the word conveys a general warm and fuzzy feeling we can all get behind, right? This lack of clarity allows us to avoid difficult conversations on racism, ableism, homophobia or xenophobia. For example, we won’t be discussing trans or gender issues — nor will we have gender-neutral bathrooms — yet we will ask everyone to share their pronouns at the start of the session because that seems to be trending. You may applaud us now.

Story continues below.

Most importantly, the summit will address the following questions:

  1. How do we get diverse people in our audiences? Seriously. What’s wrong with them? Don’t they know the arts that we are offering are good for them? Geez.
  2. How do we recruit diverse candidates? Where would we even find them? Do they have the skills and behaviors we value? A panel composed mostly of white people will ponder these questions in front of a room of underemployed artists and arts professionals of color

Date and Time:
Saturday, July 21, 2018, 10:30am-2:30pm CST
Does the National Summit on Diversity in the Arts conflict with a non-Christian holiday? You bet.

A Hilton or something.

Program Outline:

  • 10:30am Introduction, including Technical difficulties.
  • 10:40am Uncomfortable video montage of “diverse” children.
  • 10:45am Panelists disagreeing on terms.
  • 11:30am People in the audience with upcoming book projects asking questions and  wanting to “just push back a little at an earlier comment.”
  • 11:40am A slightly too early lunch.
  • 11:42am Someone presenting again so that you don’t get to know anything about the people seated next to you.
  • 11:45am Introduction of the award recipient because we’re congratulating ourselves already.
  • 11:50am “Diverse” children performing.
  • 12:00pm Award recipient delivering an inspiring speech during which you feel like maybe this was all worth it.
  • 12:15pm Surprise! We need you to give us money; the back page of your program is a donation form.
  • 12:30pm You have to go back to the office so miss the Expo but swing by quickly to grab a Diversity Coalition collapsible water bottle.


  • The One Black Guy on Everyone’s Board.
  • A Human Resources Officer from a Bank.
  • A Woman Making Solid Points But Who Keeps Getting Interrupted.
  • The Devil’s Advocate.
  • The Devil.
  • An Overly Talkative Moderator.


  • Roasted questionable chicken or baked ham, mashed potatoes with mushroom gravy, corn fritters, with steamed vegetables.
  • Vegetarian Option: A sad handful of arugula with an overly sweet raspberry vinaigrette.
  • Dessert: Cake served in a plastic shot glass.