We are thrilled to introduce you to Fund the Change recipient Monica O. Montgomery.
Personal pronouns: she/her
Monica O. Montgomery, the arts and culture power house, uses collaboration, creativity and social change as a means of bridging the gap between people and movements. As a sought after speaker, trainer and professor, she uses her platforms to build power and educate people on becoming an Upstander; meaning anyone can make a change on the causes they care about and everyone should try.
We asked Monica…
What does your activist, social justice, anti-racism, and/or anti-oppression work look like?
My work revolves around holding space and building power for people, ideas and cultural equity. I am a connecter and a convener and I work independently– and largely unfunded– in educational, collegiate, and institutional museum spaces, to speak truth to power and advocate for those who may not always have a voice in the art world. I guide leaders past their comfort zones towards seeing alternative perspectives and ways to address systemic inequities within their organizations and their company culture. I am living diversity in action by helping people get jobs in creative economy, mentoring a great many students and career changers, speaking to spread ideologies of justice around the world, and building and sustaining institutions in our own image, without waiting for validation, permission or backing. To this end I started Museum Hue & Museum of Impact to change the odds in favor of people of color.
I founded Museum of Impact after being a classroom educator and getting fired for teaching students about community care and Trayvon Martin’s tragedy during the beginning of the Black Lives Matter movement. My organization partners with local communities and large institutions to produce compelling programs, pop up exhibitions, and interactive experiences that celebrates our shared humanity. We offer a culturally conscious space to encounter ideas, contemplate solutions, and inspire all to Hear, Care, Act!
What keeps you going?
Knowing that one day the work I do, will grow from little ripples to big, sweeping, sonorous booming changes in the landscape for social justice, education, and museology.
I also keep Assatas Chant and its sense of urgency close to my heart and that keeps me going:
It is our duty to fight for our freedom.
It is our duty to win.
We must love one another and support one another.
We have nothing to lose but our chains!
What are you proud of?
I am proud to have given a Tedx Talk last year.
I am proud to be called to speak to people in power with influence and to be an intermediary between executives and grassroots.
What do you want to see change in the arts/museums/cultural sectors? What do you wish arts/museum/cultural sector leadership would do differently?
We have a responsibility to our organizations and our audiences not only to talk about diversity & inclusion but to live it and take action. I’m tired of everything ending in committees & task forces; that’s not enough forward motion to change this entrenched system.
Cultural equity and cultural sensitivity, audience accessibility, diverse hiring pipelines, a civic vision, and social justice framework for museums is what my end game is. My work looks like and leads to audiences of color actually feeling welcomed and laying claim to the space. It looks like leadership and core decision making from an array of socioeconomic and ethnic backgrounds. In many cases it looks like community members as leaders of institutions, with consideration for people, planet, and profits.
My passion is around inclusion, and creating systems that infuse equality and equity into the DNA of our personal practice which radiates outwards into our professional practice and overhauls the static conservatism of our institutions.
We need to employ a 1-to-1 model similar to the business model of buying one thing which funds the investment into another thing which is given philanthropically. Museums looking to diversify their staff need to think this way. For every white person hired, there needs to be one person of color hired. For every six-figure curator, privileged historian, top producing fundraiser, there needs to be a new hire that is fluently bilingual, an unpaid intern upgraded to a paid internship, a one-year diversity fellow whose contract is converted to a living wage job with cross departmental support for diversity and inclusion initiatives.
How can we support you and your work?
Invite me to speak at your institution, keynote your conference, train your staff, inspire your students, offer a Museum Hue #Hueseum tour at your museum, Bring a Museum of Impact exhibit to your community space. You can donate to my fiscally sponsored organization to help us grow and thrive and build capacity.
Check out Monica’s bio to learn more:
Monica O. Montgomery is an international keynote, graduate professor, museum director and cultural entrepreneur, curating media and museums to be in service to society. She recently spoke at TedX Charlottesville on ‘How to be an Upstander’ and is the winner of 2016 Arts Entrepreneurship Award from Fractured Atlas. She is the founding director and chief curator of Museum of Impact the world’s first mobile social justice museum, inspiring action at the intersection of art, activism, self and society. She curates Museum of Impact’s traveling exhibits, examining current events, creative resilience, human rights and social movements.
Additionally, Monica is the Strategic Director of Museum Hue a multicultural platform, advocating diversity, inclusion and advancing people of color, in arts, culture museums and creative economy. As a sought after public speaker and coach for executives and career changers, she frequently trains leaders and and partners with universities and museums to facilitate diversity, leadership and equity initiatives. Monica is an alumna of Temple University and LaSalle University, with degrees in Public Relations and Communication. She is an adjunct professor at Harvard University, holding leadership positions in American Alliance of Museums, Museums As Sites of Social Action and AMA UK. She is a dynamic empowerment speaker, educator and facilitator who keynotes at conferences throughout Europe and America.
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