Akron— The Board of Directors and the staff at Akron Art Museum have been working internally to transform the museum, its practices and partnerships. Board president Drew Engles, M.D. sets in motion a plan to begin a community-centered transformation. He announced these remarks in a letter to members:
Dear members of the Akron Art Museum community:
The first ten months of my tenure as Board President has been nothing short of a challenge. The recent events surrounding the museum and the Board’s role in those events have opened my eyes to opportunities of improvement. I have learned that we cannot continue to operate in the same way as we have. It is time for me and for us to be better.
The following steps are being taken immediately:
- Transform the Board such that the entire body, not just the Executive Committee, is tasked with leadership. This will increase the inclusiveness of the entire board.
- The Board will become more proactive. The Board will work hard to support the breaking down of the organizational silos that previously existed. The Board will become more engaged, more aware, and definitely more tied to the issues and challenges that many art museums face today.
- We have established formal relationships with both the United Way of Akron and Janus Small & Associates to provide consultative services in the areas of Diversity, Equity, Accessibility, and Inclusion, board structure, board composition, board director training, review of our human resource policies, and employee engagement. This process will force us to take a good look at who we are today and to define who we want to be in the immediate future. These services will also support the implementation of the previously announced, employee led, Diversity, Equity, Accessibility, and Inclusion Council and a Community Advisory Board. All of these initiatives will drive systemic changes throughout the institution and not be confined to just one area. It is anticipated that this work will take 12-24 months with the results being permanently threaded into every aspect of the institution.
Many have asked for my resignation; and believe me I have thought long and hard regarding doing so. However, I too am invested in this process of improvement. I too want to be part of the solution; and I care too deeply about the institution and its role in our community.
Lastly and most importantly, I want to extend an apology to our staff and docents who have weathered this storm. Their dedication and commitment to the institution and to their profession is nothing short of incredible. I would also like to extend apologies to our museum members who understand the importance of art in all of our lives and quite frankly we exist for you; to our donors made up of individuals and foundations who empower us to bring art to the community; and to the greater Akron community; we need you and we are here for you.
I would like to thank everyone who has supported the museum in the past and hope to give you even more reason to do so in the future.
Drew Engles, M.D.
President, Board of Directors