Asset-Based Approaches

tools to uphold the ArtsConnection values statement

Asset-Based Approaches

The purpose of this is to provide resources for the ArtsConnection community, offering tools to uphold the ArtsConnection values statement by building the skills and confidence to ingrain EDIA approaches and language into all of the organization’s work and outreach.

ArtsConnection’s asset-based approach focuses teaching and learning through the arts on the strengths of a student as the foundation for growth, defined by their aspirations and contributions.  Our programs aim to provide culturally sustaining liberated learning environments.

ArtsConnection’s DEI Values Statement


We believe our community of artists, staff and board play a unique role in modelling the humanity in all of us. Because we value the arts as a universal language, we strive to create socially just learning environments that are reflective of the city’s demographics and that affirm and practice the values of equity, diversity, and inclusion through the various roles and responsibilities we have in all our work.

We respect all communities with which we work and strive for ongoing reflection on patterns of racism, sexism, heterosexism, cis-sexism, classism, ableism, nativism, ageism, religious, body type and other forms of discrimination and oppression that can negatively affect the young people in our programs.

Aligned Action:  We strive to achieve Socially Just Learning Environments through on-going practice, reflection, and assessment in the following areas:

  • Arts: providing and valuing a multiplicity of art forms and artistic genre from around the world.
  • Schools and Classrooms: creating learning curricula, processes, and environments that model and address diversity, equity and inclusion.
  • Staffing: hiring a diversity of artists, educators and administrators who are demographically representative of the communities we serve and conscientiously committed to elevating equity in their work.
  • Community Partnerships: creating authentic and mutually beneficial relationships and collaborations.
  • Work Environment: building a culture that provides professional development and ongoing reflection on eliminating bias and creating equity in our internal- and external-facing work.


5 Guidelines for Conscientious Communication

  • Talk about policies and solutions in realistic and accurate ways that spur social justice.
  • Lift up unity, participation and cooperation over division, extreme individualism, compliance, and competition.
  • Reinforce prosperity over scarcity.
  • Accurately and respectfully talk about people’s identities, situations, and roles in society.
  • Retire outdated and problematic phrases and metaphors.

Source: Social Justice Phrase Guide 


All-Access Equity

As we strive to achieve all access equity, we uplift all students and their identities.  Our instructional practices create pathways for all learners to experience genuine achievement in the arts, focusing the leaner at the center of our work, while offering new inroads to engagement. Our community is enriched with various populations and our approaches include but is not limited to:


Gender Identities: Every NYC public school student is entitled to be addressed by the name and pronoun that correspond to the student’s gender identity that they assert at school. Students are not required to obtain parental consent or a court-ordered name and/or gender change before being addressed by the name and pronoun that they choose. Refrain from calling students boys & girls – instead greet students with gender neutral greetings. Consider when your art form might be perpetuating the gender binary and consider how you can create a gender inclusive classroom instead. For more on the school system’s policy, please see: NYC DOE Guidelines to Support Transgender and Gender Expansive Students


Indigenous Acknowledgement | “Acknowledge, Honor and Uplift” The Land Acknowledgment is reverence to the Indigenous land in which we reside and work. This serves as a reminder that the communities in which we live and serve, possess enduring connections between Indigenous Peoples and their traditional territories. An acknowledgment names and gives respect to Indigenous populations of the land. For a map locator and additional resources for learning visit Native Gov: A Guide to Indigenous Land Acknowledgment. 


Multilingual learners (MLs) |  ArtsConnection has worked extensively with learning in the arts as a vehicle for literacy, for approaches, lesson plans, and corroborating research.  Learn more:Teach with DELLTA (Developing English Language Through the Arts)

The most common languages other than English in NYC schools are:  Arabic, Bengali, Cantonese, Haitian Creole, Korean, Russian, Spanish and Urdu. Approaching classrooms with knowing what languages may be represented, and offering simple greetings in those languages, can foster inclusivity.


People with Disability | ArtsConnection approaches disability from the Social Model (disability represents societal barriers to be eliminated) rather than the Medical Model (disability is an affliction to be cured). People-First Language emphasizes the person, not the disability. Disability is not the defining characteristic of an individual, but one of several aspects of the whole person, such as “a child with disabilities”, not “a disabled child”. Although language is ever shifting and you should ALWAY prioritize asking the individual how they would like to be identified, or use the language people use to refer to themselves. Common disability stereotypes to avoid:  putting the person with a disability on a pedestal; representing or treating a person with a disability as dependent or object of pity; representing a person as having special gifts because of the disability, i.e. being a blind person and musically gifted. For resources to create inclusive classrooms visit: GIVE Guide


Racial Identities | ArtsConnection celebrates the diversity within our classroom communities, and honor, respect, and represent the multitude of racial and cultural identities of our students.  Our approach connects disparities to systemic causes, taking account of historical and institutional forces that have led, and continue to lead, to inequities and community-wide problems. Through the lens of Culturally Responsive Teaching, our arts programming centers the whole student, affirming all of their identities and abilities, creating an empowering, educational experience for all. For additional information on the Culturally Responsive-Sustaining Teaching Framework visit NY State Education Dept: Culturally Responsive Teaching. 


Inclusive Curriculum Design

At ArtsConnection we support students celebrating their full selves through the arts. Within your discipline, share from an open viewpoint. Consider what information or perspectives you are sharing and what tactics you use to do so. Define origin stories throughout the work and offer opportunities inside of the art form itself. Be expansive & intentional with the art you share.

Learn More: Teach with GIVE: Inclusive Curriculm Guide