DEI Training for the Creative and Cultural Sector

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Register your cultural non-profit today.

Facilitated by Erie Arts & Culture and Rhonda Matthews, Ph.D.

In the United States, diversity is rooted in ideology. That is to say, the ways in which we practice diversity in the workplace and in communities are directly related to the ways in which our society has constructed the idea of diversity. Those concepts are deeply held because they are silent parts of our larger culture. The contradiction between the ideals of the founding documents and the realities of social interaction are stark.

The non-profit sector, based in community, is perhaps the most important precisely because the aim of many is to work directly with the people within it. Indeed, most have, as part of their mission, a statement of service. In this historic socio-political moment, the partner to the mission to serve, is a mission to serve knowledgeably.

As Erie Arts & Culture advances its commitment to cultural equity and to the principles of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DE&I), we invite executives of up to 25 non-profit cultural organizations in Northwestern Pennsylvania to participate in virtual training facilitated by Dr. Rhonda Matthews. This training is intended to revisit, refresh, and establish a clear understanding of terms, concepts, principles, and practices related to DE&I – specific to the cultural sector. We understand that participants may have varying degrees of familiarity with DE&I concepts, and that’s okay.

At the conclusion of the training, it is our objective to develop a collaborative action plan to advance DE&I within the non-profit cultural sector in Northwestern Pennsylvania.

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This training is generously funded by Highmark Health.


Session One: Saturday, February 6, 2021

10:00 AM – 1:00 PM (w/ a 30 minute break)

“Long Haired Hippies & Afro’d Blacks All Get Together ‘Cross the Tracks”

The title, taken from the lyric of a James Brown song, brings up images of social and community work in which people from different backgrounds come together to create change. In this first session, Dr. Mathews will focus on presenting knowledge about issues of diversity that should be “common knowledge” for any organization seeking to work in, around, or for diverse, equitable, and inclusive communities and organizations. This will be a session in which a great deal of information will be given to participants in order to bring everyone “up to speed” on the ways in which diversity works in the United States, as opposed to the ways that much of our population thinks it does.

Session Two: Saturday, February 20, 2021

10:00 AM – 1:00 PM (w/ a 30 minute break)

“That’s Not How This Works. That’s Not How Any of This Works”

The now familiar insurance company commercial has become a popular meme and statement of recognition about dysfunction. In this session, Dr. Matthews will focus upon the ways in which systems of governance can work toward the necessary shifts toward more inclusive ways of working. This includes the work of internal systems, boards, and community interaction.

Session Three: Saturday, March 6, 2021

10:00 AM – 1:00 PM (w/ a 30 minute break)

“This Actually Is My First Time at the Rodeo”

In this session, Dr. Matthews will focus on the practical implementation of diversity, equity, and inclusion. The goal of this working session is to assist participants in the examination of their existing policies and procedures, goal setting, construction of internal practices, and potential implementation of external programming. Each factor will assist organizations in the identification of the ideals of DE&I. Dr. Mathews will provide practical, baseline, information and real-world examples that participants can use to begin the process of examining their own workplaces and programmatic efforts.


We are seeking participation from 25 non-profit cultural organizations within our service region (Erie, Crawford, Warren, Mercer, and Venango).  Ideally, for each organization, we ask that the Executive Director and a member of the Board's Executive Committee register to participate. Organization slots will fill quickly so please apply early.

Please fill out this form to register today.

Dr. Rhonda Matthews


 Dr. Rhonda Matthews is an Associate Professor of Politics at Edinboro University. She has taught sociology, gender studies and politics for 30 years. As a graduate of the University of Oklahoma Department of Sociology, she developed specialties in the primary areas of intersectional study, as well as theory, politics, popular culture and the study of organizations. Dr. Matthews has also put her academic and theoretical study into practical administrative work as a director of diversity affairs and sexual harassment officer.