Wednesday, March 13, 2024

Metro Arts Commision still Crazy after all These Years. Racism causes Director to take Sick Leave.

 by Rod Williams, March 7, 2024- Things just keep getting more embarrassing and nuttier at the Metro
Arts Commission. Things have been weird at Metro Ars since at least 2016. Back in 2016 the agency underwent a change to promote equity and to engage in more "micro-funding opportunities, education programs and neighborhood-specific initiatives." Prior the agency had focused on funding a handful of high profile established organization such as Children's Theater, The Frist, the symphony, ballet and a few others. These were too white for modern liberal sensibilities. Turmoil followed the change in focus.  Conflicts between funding large organizations versus small independent artists continues at the commission. 

There have been scandals, lawsuits, charges of racism and sexism, resignations, oustings, and changes in leadership at the Commission. Commission employees have described the agency’s leadership style as “rely[ing] heavily on intimidation, fear and punishment” and fostering a “culture of individualism, competition and secrecy." Outside organizations have been hired to help the Commission "overcome their racist past and transition to an anti-racist future." Still yet, things do not seem to improve.

Since Daniel Singh was appointed the Executive Director of Metro Arts a couple years ago and controversy and dysfunction have remained the norm. Now there are 13 filled seats on the 15-seat commission but at one time the Commission was down to seven. I won't be surprised to see some resignations soon. An audit of the Commission revealed problems. I have not read the audit, and don't know how bad it is, but I understand it revealed problems with financial management at the agency. 

Now it really gets weird. Ex. Dir. Daniel Singh is on sick leave. He has been on sick leave since Feb. 23rd. No, he doesn't have cancer or a heart condition or some injury, nor is he out with the flu.  He is sick from racism. He says, “The racist behavior of the Metro Government has affected my health." Below is his press release:

I am entitled to and am on sick leave. CDC says Racism has a direct impact on the health of BIPOC Communities. The racist behavior of the Metro Government has affected my health.  Your privilege is what lets you ask me about my sick leave use.  At the 3-4-24 MHRC meeting, Rev Tucker talked about how metro arts staff have been weaponized. I am protecting my health from this toxic behavior.

  • I attended the Council and MHRC meetings under great duress because I want to show up for the antiracist artists who are fighting for their rights to be funded equitably.
  • Notified staff and all appropriate entities about my sick leave.
  • Fully committed to an antiracist vision for metro arts. The real question here is will the Mayor and Council fund Metro Arts at the requested 1% of Nashville’s budget as they promised during their campaign?
  • My management of staff is repeatedly being undermined by several racist Metro Agencies. Understandably that has a toll on my health.

 For source material and more see link, link, and link

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