Points of Entry is an initiative to develop a new workforce and transform the old workplace. It engages teens from communities that have been historically been excluded from the arts and culture field and supports them as they develop professional skills and networks.
The traditional model for addressing representation on museum staffs has included identifying promising professionals from traditionally excluded demographics (typically racial and ethnic minorities) and supporting their contribution to existing institutions. These aspirants are, generally, already committed to pursuing careers in the arts and to bearing the burden of diversity in institutions that are deeply rooted in colonialist assumptions. Programs for youth that serve larger populations, including Philadelphia’s teen-centered STAMP (Students at Museums in Philadelphia), promote access for teen cultural consumers, not producers.
Functioning independently, existing efforts have had a negligible effect on the racial/ethnic demographics of the arts and culture workforce and even less of an effect on the culture of institutions and the field. Points of Entry provides connective tissue between intentions, institutions, and programs. Through high impact experiences with industry professionals, a network of partnerships, and training resources for individuals and institutions, the program cultivates new cultural participants, supports their contributions, and engenders changes in the arts and culture field that will make it more welcoming, equitable, and sustainable.
Points of Entry is an ambitious endeavor, grounded in fulfilling potential and expanding the career possibilities for Philadelphia youth. Points of Entry links and systematizes existing components—internships, teen councils, academic programs—to facilitate new participants’ stake in and sense of empowerment in this economic sector. This is tied to initiatives and programs to address institutional systems, structures, and cultures that have been barriers to authentic and diverse participation in the arts and culture field.
Outcomes and Impacts
- Introduction to new professional possibilities
- Increased engagement in a sector that has an economic impact of $4.1 billion and supports 50,000+ full-time equivalent jobs (https://philaculture.org/prosperity)
- Active cultivation of interests and hands-on development of skills, and academic and professional habits
- Opportunities in and with institutions via funded internships and fellowships
- Long-term mentoring and professional networks
- A dynamic, longitudinal program that actively invites young people, supports their engagement, and prepares them for both careers and cultural advocacy
- A mechanism for institutional transformation that includes identifying, recruiting, cultivating and sustaining a diverse professional staff
- An expanded pool of ethnically and socioeconomically diverse candidates for positions in cultural organizations—from entry level to senior staff
- An enhanced platform to engage a rapidly evolving audience base
- A model for increasing racial, cultural, and socioeconomic representation in the arts and culture field and instigating institutional transformation