Figuring this plural is imagination manifest in the ways of looking, thinking, feeling and understanding our relationship to works of art and to each other.

~ Roberto Bedoya


Plural is a collaborative project focused on ethnocultural arts organizations located in the United States and Canada. As our societies rapidly diversify and we seek to negotiate our increasingly complex national identities, these organizations possess enormous potential to assist in this process for they serve as cultural advocates, cultural interpreters, facilitators of cross-cultural understanding and communication, keepers of ethnic tradition, and/or sites where prejudice is exposed and challenged. By providing support for emerging artists and establishing venues for ignored art forms, they also serve as spaces for cultural growth and innovation.

Despite their invaluable services, ethnocultural arts organizations have received little attention within the arts community, and there is a significant amount of unknown information about these organizations as a whole. Plural has aimed to fill this void by collating existing research and developing new research on the characteristics, needs, and support systems of these arts organizations. We have also worked with ethnocultural arts organizations to assist with individual needs and have partnered with other organizations on related initiatives.

In October 2014, Plural’s research component culminated in a project report and artist book, Figuring the Plural: Needs and Supports of Canadian and US Ethnocultural Arts Organizations, that is being widely disseminated to ethnocultural arts organizations, arts service organizations, funders, and other project stakeholders. It is the overall goal of the project to heighten awareness, provide new insights, and lead to the strengthening of existing support structures and/or the creation of innovative approaches to bolstering the work of this important segment of the arts and culture field.

The research component of Plural was based out of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and received generous support from The Joyce Foundation, the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (Idea Generation Grant), and the National Endowment for the Arts.