Nora Lyons/

Nora Lyons Communications

New Cultural Competency and Equity Coalition (C2EC) Offers Innovative Program for Arts Organizations Committed to Transformative and Ongoing Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Anti-Racism Work

January 6, 2022 – While many arts organizations are pledging ongoing anti-racism work, and committing to more inclusive and diverse workplaces, few are moving forward with the guidance and collaborative professional community to foster ongoing learning and meaningful change. Launching January 16, 2022, the Cultural Competency and Equity Coalition (C2EC) program, created by diversity strategist and former ballet dancer Theresa Ruth Howard, aims to create a learning community with the support, education, and advocacy that organizations and their leaders need to reimagine and reshape the culture and standards of the classical arts. 

Howard has designed C2EC as a membership-based program comprised of leaders interested in working collaboratively with peers to embed the foundational tenets of inclusion, diversity, equity, anti-racism and cultural competence (I.D.E.A. and C.C. within Howard’s framework) into their organizations and the performing arts field at large. Participants will have access to Howard’s Curriculum of Change, which addresses the needs of the field from pipeline to performance, boardroom to box office and beyond. Individually and as a cohort, participants will also work towards their goals with Howard and her team of subject matter experts on topics such as history, transforming organizational culture, and more. Experts include Greg Jauncey (Founder of the newly formed HR company Theatre People, veteran Human Resources and Training Manager at the Royal Opera House); Alejandra Valarino Boyer (Seattle Opera Director of Programs & Partnerships); dance historian Linda Monich (Boston Conservatory at Berklee Associate Professor of Dance); Tina Fehlandt (Lecturer in Dance at Princeton University, Mark Morris stager); and Dr. Sarah L. Webb (Founder of global initiative Colorism Healing). 

Most importantly, C2EC will provide a measure of accountability that has been missing from many promises of change, by encouraging members to exercise transparency not only within the Coalition, but with their employees, board members, stakeholders, patrons, and the public.

As a collaborative coalition, the voices of C2EC participants will shape and mold the work, support, and services Howard and her team will offer. By design, C2EC is an entity that is malleable and able to adjust in order to address emerging needs of members and the field as they arise, while remaining true to the original intent and mission of the Coalition.

“I entered this work through the conversation about the lack of diversity in ballet,” explains Howard. “As I began working with performing arts organizations individually as a diversity strategist, what became clear was that the very culture and values of the classical arts was part of the infrastructure that perpetuated the lack of diversity, equity and inclusion. Hence, the next phase of my work is to actively build the models for the new culture in the performing arts field, a culture that has at its core the concept of citizenship, which implies a sense of personal and collective responsibility and humanity. C2EC will actively foster a practice of community responsibility by encouraging leaders and organizations to hold themselves responsible and accountable for the evolution they want in the field, no matter position or title they hold. Because we are the village, and we have be the change we want to see.”

“PNB is thrilled to step into the deeper engagement and more consequential outcomes offered by Theresa Ruth Howard’s Cultural Competency and Equity Coalition,” said Ellen Walker, Executive Director of Pacific Northwest Ballet, one of C2EC’s first participants. “Along with coalition peers we’re eager to embrace and personify the tenets of cultural competency, organizational citizenship, and continued embodiment of the principles of I.D.E.A. We know C2EC’s community of learning, collaboration, and accountability will benefit our organization and field in myriad ways as ballet continues its essential, dynamic evolution.”

For more details on The Cultural Competency and Equity Coalition (C2EC) and how to join, visit .

Theresa Ruth Howard is the founder and curator of Memoirs of Blacks in Ballet ( a digital platform that preserves, presents, and promotes the stories of Black ballet dancers. She is a respected advocate and leader in the conversations and work surrounding diversity and culture in ballet and the arts. She is an internationally sought-after diversity strategist, speaker, consultant and coach to artistic, executive, and school directors, and board members of performing arts organizations. Her background as a dancer (Dance Theater of Harlem and Armitage Gone! Dance) and dance educator make her uniquely qualified to target, address and facilitate much-needed cultural shifts in ballet leadership and the performing arts more broadly. 

In 2015, she collaborated with International Association of Blacks in Dance (IABD) to organize the inaugural audition for Black female ballet dancers facilitating the first ever dialogue on diversity in ballet with artistic directors from 15 major ballet organizations. Pacific Northwest Ballet engaged her to curate and facilitate a town hall gathering entitled “Beyond Ballet,” a conversation investigating aesthetics, diversity, equity, and the efforts to redesign arts institutions. Her expertise has been called on by Dance/USA, IABD, Dutch National Ballet, National Ballet of Canada, The Royal Ballet, San Francisco Ballet, American Ballet Theatre, Opera America and more.

In conjunction with Dance Theatre of Harlem, IABD and Dance/USA, she is a member of the Design and Facilitation team of “The Equity Project: Increasing the Presence of Blacks in Ballet,” a three-year partnership program to support the advancement of racial equity in 21 North American ballet companies. 

Howard is a contributing writer with Dance Magazine, where she consistently takes on controversial topics, including diversity in ballet, and racial and cultural biases in dance criticism. She has also contributed her writing to The Source (US), Pointe (US), Tanz (Germany), and Expressions Magazine (Italy).

* * *