A former staff member at the Office of Arts & Culture has recently shared his experiences during his time as an employee of the Office. The experiences and trauma he describes are difficult to read and he describes a culture of white supremacy that does not reflect our values. While I’m glad that Mr. Rucker is in a secure place where he feels safe to name these events, we need a workplace that can deal with issues as they arise, so that all staff feels supported. And even though these events occurred 10 years ago, it’s still concerning to us that any employee who worked or continues to work at ARTS has this experience. We are committed to creating a safe and racially equitable workplace and this work is collective, iterative, and ongoing. We are committed to the city’s Race and Social Justice Initiative which builds on the work of the civil rights movement and the ongoing efforts of individuals and groups in Seattle to confront racism. The Initiative’s long-term goal is to change the underlying system that creates race-based disparities in our community and to achieve racial equity.
As a first step the ARTS department will be reviewing our policies and processes in place for reporting concerns without fear of retaliation and ensuring that staff are informed about new mechanisms that have been added in the last several years, such as the Office of the Employee Ombuds. Created two years ago, the Ombuds Office along with Human Resources Investigation Unit have supported hundreds of employees who have reported concerns and have found relief in the intervention offered by these new entities.
As a City and an Office, we must reflect and be accountable.
–Calandra Childers, Acting Director, Seattle Office of Arts & Culture