Bishop Arts Theater weighs in on city’s racial equity plan

Harold Hogue and Lauren Coppedge of CoSpero Consulting

In January, we published an article about the duo developing the city of Dallas’ first racial equity plan. Harold Hogue and Lauren Coppedge – both former educators, he from Oak Cliff and she from Preston Hollow – founded a company called CoSpero. And the City of Dallas’ Office of Equity and Inclusion announced the collaboration with their small, albeit established, social impact consulting firm last December. Since then, the Cospero team – as part of its information-gathering process – has held sessions with each of the city’s more than 40 departments as well as with residents (hence stakeholders) in hundreds of Dallas neighborhoods.

This morning, KERA reported on the plan for Dallas’ arts and culture division.

KERA’s Miguel Perez interviewed Teresa Coleman Wash with the Bishop Arts Theater Center, who weighed in on CoSpero’s ongoing equity framework — which will be delivered to city council later this summer — pointing out that deep-rooted inequality issues of Dallas will not be resolved with a singular action or plan.

“Racial equity is not a project,” she told the reporter. “It’s about who we are as individuals.”

Wash and other members of the arts community say they hope CoSpero will go beyond the numbers the city has previously set (one example is the goal of adding five equity-specific public art projects by 2024) and will address, for example, the need for resources for artists of color: “decent wages, money to cover running costs, and appropriate space to make art.”

And spaces like the Bishop Arts Theater Center need more than what she called a “seed grant” to grow and become entrenched in the neighborhood for future generations.

Ballet Folklorico artistic director Alexandra Hernandez attended a recent listening session with CoSpero, KERA reports, where she appears to have expressed similar ideas. She says supporting the artist is key as she recalls her former life in Minneapolis where she says she made her living working a single full-time job at an arts group. Something like that wouldn’t be feasible in Dallas.

One theme among those who contributed: Improving the quality of life for talented artists in our city will improve the quality of art and culture in our city.

It seems that affordable housing, public safety, access to healthy food, health care and other resources are important to the artistic community; the same things are likely to be a top priority for many city departments as they bring ideas and establish short- and long-term measurable goals and accountability parameters.

CoSpero consultants said the lawyer that achieving racial equity in the city would mean, essentially, that race or ethnicity no longer predicts economic or educational opportunities, access to quality housing and infrastructure, health services or levels of legal justice.

Interdepartmental cooperation is unique to the creation of this racial equity plan, says City of Dallas equity officer Dr. Lindsey Wilson. It’s unlike anything that’s been done in the past.

It’s more accurate to describe the plan as a “strategic framework” than to think of it as a new plan, Wilson said. The Lawyer.

She believes every department in City Hall has a role to play when it comes to achieving racial equity.

“Despite how our services are inward or community oriented,” says Wilson, “literally everyone has a critical role in making this happen.

KERA broadcasters said listeners will hear Cospero’s Harold Hogue on Thursday morning, so keep an ear out.

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