Announcing RE-Tool: Racial Equity in the Panel Process

Sep 24, 2018

A discussion tool to encourage racial equity in the review and selection process of artists and arts organizations.


Download RE-Tool (pdf)


Valuing racial equity requires examining how our organizational practices can support equitable outcomes by assessing/addressing racial disparities and inequity. The panel process for selecting artists and arts organizations involves a system of often unquestioned activities—assumed to be inherently impartial —that directly impact funding or arts participation outcomes.

To address racial equity in the panel process, we must actively investigate who has access to opportunities and who doesn’t. Put another way, anti-racist grantmakers must design and implement systems and protocols that increase access and decrease barriers for historically under-resourced groups.

We must ask ourselves:

Who submits applications?

Who do we award?

How do we train panel moderators, panelists, and facilitators?

In what ways can we interrupt racial bias and contribute to systemic change?

The tool interrogates and applies a racial equity lens to every step of the grantmaking process:

  • applicant pool
  • selection and training of panelists
  • panel experience and outcomes
  • our communication with grant-seeking artists and organizations every step of the way
page from RE-Tool report

How this tool was created

In 2015, a small group of peers in arts philanthropy were in conversation about issues of equity in the grant panel selection process. As panel moderators and administrators, we have a responsibility and an opportunity to understand our own practices and habits through the lens of racial equity. In establishing equity, we want to look beyond the language of mission statements and examine the nuts and bolts of how we actually operate our programs: panelist selection, moderator training/lack thereof, the tone of the panel room, etc.

In the fall of 2017, with funding from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, we were able to expand the group of five to a racially diverse group of twelve and to hire a Project Manager/Facilitator to support us in operationalizing equity practices in the organizations where we work.

As a “leave-behind” from our work together we created this RE-Tool for racial equity in the panel process.

An Annotated Guide to RE-Tool

A useful companion to the RE-Tool guide, the Annotated Guide to RE-Tool was published in the Fall 2019 issue of the GIA Reader.

AUTHOR: Eleanor Savage (Lead Author), Jerome Foundation Program Director

EDITOR: Ama Codjoe, Project Manager of Equity in the Panel Process

DESIGN & LAYOUT: Susan Wilcox, Twiga Works



Jordan Baylon of Calgary Arts Development

Pam Breaux of National Assembly of State Arts Agencies

Francene J. Blythe of Native Arts and Cultures Foundation

Moira Brennan of MAP Fund 

Emilya Cachapero of Theater Communications Group

Gargi Shindé of Chamber Music America

Kathy Hsieh of the Seattle Office of Arts & Culture

Ken May of South Carolina Arts Commission

Tariana Navas-Nieves of Denver Arts & Venues

Jane Preston of New England Foundation for the Arts

Dara Silver of The Arts Council of Winston-Salem and Forsyth County