Equity—Builder Pledges

Our pledges are Arts House’s trackable and public-facing commitments and investments towards racial justice. We will report on these commitments annually with oversight by the Equity—Builder working group to stay accountable to our Focus Communities, our stakeholders and ourselves.

Our pledges are guided by the priorities of City of Melbourne’s Inclusive Melbourne Strategy which seeks to realise a vision of a truly inclusive Melbourne over the next 10 years. The Equity—Builder is Arts House’s practical and ambitious enacting of this strategy.

In line with the Inclusive Melbourne Strategy, the Equity—Builder seeks to embed change in our services, staffing, programs and place. It seeks sustainable and fair recovery in our communities from the ongoing impacts of COVID and other seismic shocks related to ongoing colonisation and climate crisis. It aspires towards empowered communities participating in our work.

Prioritising Representation

Representation is driven by the belief that ‘you cannot be what you cannot see’1 .

Though a contested term, representation is a necessary first step toward a horizon of continuous improvement in Arts House’s pro-equity work.

Through the valuing of lived experiences from multiple walks of life across all areas of our work (staffing, leadership, contracting, partnerships and programming), we will strive to better reflect the City and society that we are part of, and recognise the value of arts and culture for all peoples.

This will help preserve, shape, and shift cultural beliefs and attitudes about ourselves and each other, and create a workforce and landscape that is diverse, accessible and attractive to the next generation.



  1. Create equitable and accessible plans, pathways and processes for recruitment, staff retention and workforce development
  2. Diversify the database of contractors across all Arts House functions
  3. Leverage Arts House investment to attract additional funding to amplify opportunities for artists and arts workers from Focus Communities
  4. Refresh audience development plans with Focus Communities in view


Upholding Self-Determination

Self-determination refers to an ongoing process of agency, choice and autonomy in all areas of life, including one’s professional sphere.

At Arts House, it is anchored in the belief of ‘nothing about us, without us’. People with lived experience from any community have a fundamental right to their values and beliefs and must play an active role in outputs that affect them, whether they are creative, personal, professional or communal.



  1. Centre the knowledges, perspectives, and aspirations of Traditional Owners, the Wurundjeri Woi Wurrung peoples of the Kulin Nations, across all Arts House functions
  2. Develop and deliver a six year guest curatorial commissioning program that re-imagines the relationship between independent artists/curators and Arts House
  3. Recruit, retain and develop First Nations staffing and leadership at Arts House
  4. Empower self-determined models of storytelling, cultural practices and the making and sharing of new work


Affirming Cultural Safety

Cultural safety is about more than cultural competency, consciousness and capability. Arts House recognises the urgency for people with barriers to participation to feel psychologically safe. It is a necessary condition for them to thrive in the workplace, including artistic spaces and in the community at large.



  1. Create a cultural safety syllabus for staff at Arts House with multiple ways of learning
  2. Catalyse an organisational culture of anti-racism through embedded practices of accountability
  3. Tailor all communications to the needs of overlapping Focus Communities, including use of multilingual and accessible formats
  4. Prioritise lived experience from Focus Communities across Arts House’s employment, advisory and artistic functions


Building Intersectional Communities and Solidarities

‘There is no thing as a single-issue struggle because we do not live single-issue lives’ Audre Lorde2

City of Melbourne is made up of a community of many intersections, many ancestries, many struggles and many stories.

As our program connects the local and the global, we recognise the need to work in solidarity with each other and with our planet for us to face the complex crises of our times and move toward more equitable futures.



  1. Partner with community-led groups and collectives engaged in mobilising and empowering Focus Communities
  2. Develop a considered neighbourhood engagement strategy for North and West Melbourne
  3. Embed methods of capacity building and critical discourse within all Arts House programs through gathering, discussion, publication and mutual learning
  4. Engage internationally through a First Nations-led, diaspora-driven, climate-responsible, and multilateral framework


Towards Reparation, Restoration and Harm Reduction

At Arts House, we believe that arts and culture are a fundamental right for all.

We will strive to minimise the negative economic, social, cultural and political impacts and consequences associated with discrimination, exclusion and invisible labour in the arts.

As we engage in interpersonal, institutional, communal and societal harm reduction, we can make amends for historic injustices of institutional racism by beginning to address the significant and ongoing problems of structural barriers in our sector.



  1. Formalise a commitment to Traditional Owners, the Wurundjeri Woi Wurrung peoples of the Kulin Nations who have a long and deep history and ongoing connection with the North Melbourne Town Hall, in liaison with Aboriginal Melbourne
  2. Consider how racial justice intersects with disability justice and climate justice, in line with City of Melbourne’s commitments toward the UN Sustainable Development Goals
  3. Design and deliver a lab program for participants from Focus Communities that is responsive to site, community and context
  4. Provide programming and operational avenues for data healing and equitable cyber futures



1 This term was coined by American activist Marian Wright Edelman. Accessed 1 September 2023, ideas-alliance.org.uk/hub/2018/06/07/idea-of-the-month-you-cant-be-what-you-cant-see

2 Lorde A, 1982,  ‘Learning from the 60s’ in Black Past website accessed on 15 September 2023:  blackpast.org/african-american-history/1982-audre-lorde-learning-60s