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Newfields says it 'deeply regrets' using divisive language in job description

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Posted at 3:35 PM, Feb 13, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-14 20:31:44-05

INDIANAPOLIS — Newfields says it "deeply regrets" using divisive rather than inclusive wording in a job description for a new director.

Part of the position description stated the person's duties would include working with programs to attract a more diverse audience "while maintaining the Museum’s traditional, core, white art audience."

New York Times reporter Sarah Bahr was one of the first to report the description, which drew criticism from residents, members, and community leaders.

You can read part of the description below.

"Maximize unique programmatic opportunities, working closely with the curatorial, education and public programs divisions to animate the permanent collection galleries in innovative ways that attract a broader and more diverse audience while maintaining the Museum’s traditional, core, white art audience; work in concert with the Director of The Garden and Park to ensure the creation and coordination of engaging art and nature programing in the Museum, Garden and Park."

On Saturday morning, this part of the position description appeared to have been updated to the following:

"Maximize unique programmatic opportunities, working closely with the curatorial, education and public programs divisions to animate the permanent collection galleries in innovative ways to welcome and embrace a more diverse audience while maintaining the Museum’s traditional core art audience; work in concert with the Director of The Garden and Park to ensure the creation and coordination of engaging art and nature programing in the Museum, Garden and Park."

"We deeply regret that in our job description, in our attempt to focus on building and diversifying our core audience, our wording was divisive rather than inclusive," a statement from Newfields read.

You can read the full statement below:

GANGGANG, a promotion culture firm, said they won't continue as guest curators for an exhibit to honor Indy's Black Lives Matter mural artists until Newfields follows up on its requests.

The firm said it has asked Newfields to revisit the exhibition to include an apology to the artists, the opportunity for the artists to show their other, personal works, and an intentional strategy to display more work from Black artists.

"And as guest curators for an upcoming Black Lives Matter exhibition called DRIP, we find it offensive and counter to the very point of the exhibition," a statement posted on the firm's Instagram read. "The term 'core' itself within the description implies that there is ambiguity on the institutions desire to maintain whiteness as its center. We can't have that."

PREVIOUS | Newfields to honor Indy's Black Lives Matter mural artists with exhibit

WRTV reached out to Newfields by e-mail late Sunday evening for a response to the statement is waiting to hear back.

The Arts Council of Indianapolis issued a statement about the position description Saturday afternoon.

You can read the latest version of the description here.