IDEA Action Plan
As we open the Buffalo AKG Art Museum, we are striving to incorporate the principles set forth in our Unity of Purpose Statement throughout all our work. This will ensure that the Buffalo AKG begins its new chapter with inclusion, diversity, equity, and accessibility centered in all aspects of how we engage with people—our leadership, staff, volunteers, members, funders, and community.
Following the opening of the Buffalo AKG, we commit to continuing the journey of ensuring that the values of this plan inform the development and operation of the museum.
The museum's Inclusive Culture Team (ICT) is coordinating ongoing efforts in the following IDEA action areas, each of which includes several distinct action items.
IDEA Strategic Direction
In 2021, the Buffalo AKG staff and Board of Directors conducted a thorough review of the museum’s 2016–2026 Strategic Plan with an IDEA lens and made a number of updates and additions to further align the Plan with our IDEA principles and action areas. The revised Plan was shared with our staff and Board and posted on our website. In 2022, Buffalo AKG leadership met with managers throughout the museum to define department ownership of each objective and initiative outlined in the updated Plan and share a framework for providing updates on progress toward achieving them. This work will continue through 2026, at which point a new Strategic Plan will be developed. One of the goals of this work is to ensure that every staff member understands their role in helping achieve the Strategic Plan.
IDEA Leadership and Governance
The ICT has worked with museum departments and cross-departmental teams to ensure each IDEA action item has an owner. ICT members serve as action item point people, periodically checking departmental progress and reporting updates to the ICT. In addition, the ICT’s co-chairs meet three times per year with the museum’s Board IDEA representatives to discuss what the staff and Board have achieved with relationship to IDEA-related work and set future goals for IDEA-related work. Museum leadership is also working to strengthen the relationship between staff members and Board members by organizing opportunities for them to volunteer together in the community.
People and Inclusive Culture
The foundation of our IDEA work is to continue to foster an inclusive culture among our staff and volunteers. This is being accomplished, in part, through updates to our recruitment process, including increasing the breadth of where we communicate our job postings, adding salaries and benefits to job postings, and expanding our benefits for both full- and part-time employees. These changes have contributed to a greater diversity of candidates and an increase in the hiring of BIPOC candidates, resulting in a staff that more closely represents the communities we serve. We will also offer accessible tools within the museum to assist with applying for open positions, and work to further standardize our recruitment, hiring, and onboarding processes. To improve staff retention, we will continue to focus on helping staff members understand their colleagues’ roles and responsibilities; providing ongoing IDEA training; providing mental health resources; providing career mentorship; and working toward ensuring equitable facilities for staff across all our buildings.
Policies, Performance, and Accountability
To ensure that all staff members are aware of and feel ownership of our IDEA principles and work, we have developed several new policies and guidelines, including in the areas of code of conduct, vendor diversity, inclusive style, land acknowledgement, and sustainability. We also continue to review all our existing policies with an IDEA lens and make updates as appropriate. To assess this work—and the work of the ICT in general—we distribute biannual surveys about the museum’s IDEA efforts to all staff members. The ICT analyzes the survey’s results, identifies key takeaways, and makes recommendations for next steps on addressing these takeaways.
To achieve the action items defined in this plan, we need to ensure that we have the appropriate resources allocated to do the work. To this end, representatives from the ICT meet annually with departments across the museum to ensure that their budgets reflect any hard costs needed to achieve our IDEA action items and that their team members understand their roles in this work. We also continue to communicate with our entire staff about our ongoing IDEA efforts and plan for communicating our progress to various audiences outside the museum.
Programs and Services
We will center the principles of inclusion, diversity, equity, and accessibility in the development and ongoing evaluation of all our programs and services, including our exhibitions, programs, events, membership, facilities, and overall visitor experience. We are especially mindful of these principles when planning experiences for our Seymour H. Knox Building, which will be free and accessible to all community members year-round. All are welcome to hang out and relax in our new Ralph Wilson Town Square, learn through play in Creative Commons, engage with free drop-in artmaking activities in the Studios, and explore artworks in the M&T Bank Gallery. In addition, we are working to anticipate the different journeys visitors may take across our newly expanded campus and identify what questions and needs they may have along the way so that we can be as proactive as possible in addressing them.
Community Engagement, Outreach, and Partnerships
We continue to focus on forging new relationships and strengthening existing ones with community members and organizations. We are actively listening to our community and taking their feedback into account when creating and fine-tuning our programming. To guide us in this work, we have developed a community engagement plan, convened a new Community Advisory Council, and carried forth the relationship with our Northland Advisory Council, which was established in 2019. We plan to continue soliciting feedback from our community in a more intentional way going forward, both through our Community Advisory Council members and through conversations our staff members have with people when they are out working and volunteering throughout Western New York.