These equity questions were developed by members of the Alliance for Action for art house cinemas in order to prompt discussions, self-reflection, and action-planning. The goal is to work collectively in service of a more equitable and inclusive field.

They were developed to prompt transparent and productive discussions of equity challenges and opportunities. A list of recommended action steps and resources follow so that organizations may design their own plans for change and identify possible actions to take, step by step, over time.


Plan ahead, these conversations take time. Prepare to dedicate several hours to the process, or to work through the questions over the course of multiple sessions. The more you involve people at all levels (i.e. decision-makers, front-line), the more effective your discussion and future planning will be.

Do not expect to know the answers to (or how to answer) all of the questions. We recommend that you discuss strategies for identifying and managing challenging dynamics and behaviors including defensiveness, denial, lack of engagement, fatigue, and unbalanced power dynamics. Keep in mind that the power dynamics of the workplace will impact who feels safe when they speak and whose voice leads. Expect and accept discomfort, frustration, and conflict.  It is important to establish group guidelines in advance and re-state the purpose of the assessment at challenging moments. 

Defining Terms

In order to create a shared vocabulary and common understanding we have created an glossary that includes bolded terms. We recommend reviewing and discussing terms before you begin and as you go. 

In order to create a shared vocabulary and common understanding we have created an glossary that includes bolded terms. We recommend reviewing and discussing terms before you begin and as you go. 

Group Questions: Community

Decide who and how you will take notes from the discussion in order to identify tasks and track potential action steps as you go.

  • Whose land is your cinema on?
  • What do you know about your community history regarding indigenous people and immigration?
  • What do you know about the strengths, sources of pride, and systemic disparities in the immediate neighborhood of your cinema as well as your larger community (i.e. town, city, metro area, state, region)? (Make sure that the sources of information are not only from the point of view of the dominant culture).
  • Community: Assess the current demographics of your cinema’s community (i.e. immediate neighborhood, town, city, state, you choose the applicable region).
  • Find and discuss community data for race, ethnicity, age, sexual orientation, gender identity, ability, income level, etc.).
  • What do you know about your community that does not show up in this data?
  • What cultures are represented in your community?
  • What are key interests and issues of your community’s populations?

Group Questions: Audience

Assess the demographics and the culture of your cinema’ audience.

  • Identify and discuss data for your audience regarding race, ethnicity, age, sexual orientation, gender identity, ability, income level, etc. Note: data should rely on self-identification. It is not uncommon to lack this data or to have issues with collecting from audiences.
  • Are any audiences underrepresented relative to your community’s demographics?
  • Identify barriers underrepresented audiences face when attending your organization. Do not make assumptions, use first-hand information, data, multiple sources and follow the “not about us without us” principle.  
  • Consider environment. Who might feel welcome in your space? Who might feel unfamiliar or unwelcome? Discuss why.
  • How does your cinema benefit from increasing diversity in your audience? Acknowledge (list) some of the mutual benefits for community and for your Cinema to increasing historically underrepresented audiences.

Group Questions: Staff and Leadership

Assess the demographics of your staff (all levels) and leadership (board, owners)? Consider this question in the present as well as the past.

  • How do you currently reflect your community?
  • What experiences and perspectives do you bring?
  • Are the demographics different among various levels of staffing and leadership?
  • Are staff and leadership board in tune with issues and goals of minority populations in your community? How?
  • Does your cinema’s mission or business plan or statement of values incorporate equity?

Group Questions: Programming

Assess a year of programming at your cinema.

  • What are the demographics of the filmmakers?
  • Whose stories does your programming feature?
  • What issues, stories, and events are important in your community historically and in the present day? Is your cinema program a platform for these stories?
  • Consider expertise: what perspectives do your programmers have?
  • If you have stated programmatic goals, what are they? Do they align with your diversity, equity, and inclusion goals?
  • What does inclusion look like?

Discuss: Does your cinema have a correlation between programming and audiences?

Note: diversifying filmmaker demographics and/or stories should not be relied upon to diversify audiences.

Next Steps

Review what you learned during the conversation and possible tasks and projects.

Discuss priorities and feasibility. State three objectives that you could achieve this year within your current budget. Define your goals, responsibilities and roles, and how you will measure success. Can you use data to demonstrate change? If so, do you have the right tools to collect and use that data? Look ahead, prioritize and map out a three-year equity plan.


Check out the glossary for helpful terms and concepts.