Cultural Equity at ESO Arts Center

Mission Statement

Eastern Shore’s Own, Inc. (ESO) is a nonprofit community arts center whose mission is to foster the development of the arts through instruction and performance.

ESO’s goal is to provide opportunities for local artists to teach, practice, perform and to make the arts available to all residents of the Eastern Shore of Virginia. 

On Diversity, Equity and Inclusion:

ESO Arts Center believes that the arts should be available to all residents of the Eastern Shore regardless of income, race, creed, sexual orientation or gender identity.  We believe in the importance of the arts as an outlet for expression. The arts are integral to mental health and community wellness and are integrally connected to our humanity, interlaced through history, politics, religion and education. Our goal is to provide ample opportunities for artists, students and audiences that are equitable and accessible.  We envision ourselves as serving as a common ground for artists and the community to come together and to provide quality arts programming that is informed by authentic leadership for cultural equity.  

ESO Arts Center is open and available for artists of all creeds and backgrounds as well as to all kinds of artists. We center DEI as a core value, that will play a role in decision-making moving forward. Our team is fully behind this effort, from our board to our teachers, and our solidarity is substantiated through a written ethics agreement signed by students, staff and volunteers.  Through the formation of the DEI committee that is responsible for reviewing DEI efforts on a regular basis, ESO hopes to create a system in which these efforts are not overlooked in the future. ESO recognizes that many existing systems of power grant privilege and access unequally, and that equity is crucial to the long-term viability of both the arts and culture sector and communities-at-large. Through our intentions and actions ESO hopes to create a system that is inherently inclusive. True inclusivity doesn’t just naturally spring up. In order for this to happen an actionable plan must be implemented and maintained.  

Actionable Approach 

  • Anyone who enters our building or engages with our programming agrees to uphold the values of ESO Arts Center.  We hold a zero-tolerance policy against racism, sexism, ageism, ableism, classism or any discrimination on all grounds. This includes bullying or harassment of any kind. Infringements on ESO’s Ethics Agreement will be taken seriously and could result in immediate dismissal and/or expulsion from all ESO classes, events, or activities. We agree to hold transgressors accountable for their actions on a case-by-case basis, guaranteeing equitable treatment and an inclusive environment.  
  • We stand in solidarity with our whole community, and that especially means uplifting our Black and Brown students, teachers, artists, and all community members. We commit to having at least one monthly program/show/ballet/event that features an artist of color, whether that’s a musician or a film. We will make explicit calls for artists, teachers and students of color in order to build a network that empowers creative change and collective action.  
  • ESO is Committed to reaching out to communities of color and low income communities.  We will include in our marketing plan communications with community churches, schools and other entities, creating strong cross-community ties that will build a powerful network of communication.
  • ESO commits to providing registration and scholarship information for our community’s significant immigrant population.  By providing forms in Spanish and Hatian Creole the registration and scholarship process are simplified making our programming more diverse and accessible to those people of our community.  
  • Accessibility is a major strife for ESO on several grounds. Due to transportation issues in our rural community, and additional socio economic factors, ESO Arts Center commits to being creative and flexible when it comes to meeting the needs of the community.  This includes holding classes off premises and/ or making arrangements for regular transportation to and from classes. Additionally,  ESO understands the limitations of our current building concerning ADA accessibility, efforts are being made to advance our compliance to be able to serve the community in a more encompassing way.  
  • ESO will make a concerted effort to develop these initiatives to allow longevity, and will not fall to the wayside when leadership changes.  DEI is on the board agenda monthly, and is not a periphery project, but a core part of our mission.  A committee with a focus on DEI will be formed with key community stakeholders and board members. This will eventually include a DEI intern position.  

With this DEI statement ESO hopes to accomplish creating a more diverse and inclusive environment at ESO Arts Center.  We hope to create programming that reflects the interests of the community and also to create a student body and teaching staff that is a reflection of the diverse community and culture on the Eastern Shore. 


Special thanks to the Pip Collective who have helped guide us through the journey of defining our values concerning Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.  Comprised of expert consultants with academic and professional backgrounds in non-profit justice, Agile/Scrum, Women/Gender/Sexuality studies, healthcare, and African-American Studies, Pip’s extended team offers more than 12 years and 400+ hours of diversity training, facilitations, consulting, and implementation expertise to your DEI and healthy culture efforts.   

Pip’s Virtual services can meet you wherever you are on your DEI Journey!


11AM - 6PM
11AM - 6PM
11AM - 6PM
11AM - 6PM
open for scheduled classes

Get in Touch

PO Box 147
Belle Haven, VA 23306
15293 King Street
Belle Haven, VA 23306
(757) 442-3226

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©2018 Eastern Shore's Own, Inc.
We are a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization.