Mixed Metaphor

A Hybrid Approach Toward Liberatory Infrastructure for Arts & Culture Organizations

Leveraging a Network for Equity (LANE)

A Program of the National Peformance Network (NPN)


On a brown surface, the LANE workbook lies open on a spread in which the words 'Racial Justice & Cultural Equity' are situated in the middle of a deep fuchsia background, framed by both lush and spiny pink and purple sea vegetation and shells. On top of this spread is a closed workbook with a cover that shows two dark and medium-brown skinned people holding hands with their eyes closed. The sun sets between their canyon-textured bodies, revealing the words 'Mixed Metaphor.'

This workbook is a collection of LANE’s activities and learnings shared through text, interactive media, and video elements.

Download the Workbook (PDF)

Workbook Resources

Learning Deck

A colorful spread of LANE tarot cards rest on a cloudy dark blue background. Glimpses of illustrations of the natural world, ranging from desert sunsets to tropical vegetation, are visible. The top-most card is fully visible and shows the words 'Cultivating Vulnerability' surrounded by swirling body of a speckled orange snake with sky blue eyes and tongue, shedding a translucent orange and blue skin from its tail. Orange wavy lines radiate from the snake.

This learning deck guides your Liberatory Infrastructure journey through brief teachings and questions.

Download the Learning Deck (PDF)

More About This Project

Once upon a time, across kitchen tables, front porches, conference tables, performance spaces, and workshop sessions, a big conversation was happening at the National Performance Network (NPN). We were in a quandary: BIPOC-led and BIPOC-serving arts organizations, as well as rural arts organizations, were either folding or leaving the Network. So we asked, “How can we collectively build something that specifically supports those in our field who are most vulnerable?”

Leveraging a Network for Equity (LANE) was a ten-year initiative by NPN to support arts organizations of color and rural organizations to thrive in ways that are rooted in who they are, deeply nourish their well-being, and build on their brilliance and leadership in tearing down white supremacy culture, racial capitalism, and other systems of oppression. Through those ten years, two cohorts of six organizations amassed a wealth of learning toward creating Liberatory Infrastructure: systems of accountability and governance that hold the core principles of justice, dignity, and humanity for all.

A rainbow-tinted photograph of Black, Brown, Indigenous, and white people, all LANE cohort members, are flanked by rippling pink and purple illustration of sea vegetation.

To share their experience with the field, the LANE team and cohort members have worked for two years on compiling the learnings and practices—from their lived experiences as well as the LANE program’s materials—that allowed them to engage in a range of Liberatory Infrastructure experiments.

These two offerings support different ways of knowing:

The learning deck is a tool that pairs brief learnings with reflection questions to guide you in your own journey toward Liberatory Infrastructure.

The workbook presents the learnings at greater depth, as well as practices developed during the LANE process. The workbook uses interactive media and video elements to invite fellow travelers to fully understand the journey that we’ve taken—and to take it further.

Both resources support exploration either as an individual or within collectives. We believe they can be helpful not only to nonprofit arts organizations but also to any formation of people in which infrastructure is necessary to sustain ability, functionality, health, and justice. They are an invitation to dream more fully.

LANE was predicated on four cornerstones that guided our work. Through the lived experience of the Cohort members, we collectively identified seven areas of learning that were the most impactful in their transformation toward Liberatory Infrastructure:

Four Cornerstones to guide us

  • Emergence
  • Racial Justice & Cultural Equity
  • Popular Education
  • Design Justice

Sacred Seven areas of learning

  • Leadership
  • Relationships
  • Transformation
  • Risk
  • Organizational Culture & Power
  • Organizational Capacity & Infrastructure
  • Influence

We invite you into Mixed Metaphor, a Liberatory Infrastructure toolkit to help you untangle your challenges, engage complexity, and find a path forward.

LANE cohort members and staff collaborated with Change Elemental as our participatory learning partner, And Also Too as our graphic design team, and ill Weaver as our Creative Director. All illustrations are by Amir Khadar. Read full credits and acknowledgements. You can sign up for updates and opportunities to connect more deeply.