Creative Catalysts: Arts Connect International

Creative Catalysts:

Arts Equity Summit

October 30, 2019

Over the years, ArtWeek has been fortunate to have so many individual and organizational partners who champion arts, culture, and creativity in their communities across the state. To help shine a spotlight on their collective efforts, ArtWeek will be featuring them in this “Creative Catalysts” series.

ArtWeek spoke with Allegra Fletcher, Director of Arts Connect International, and Marian Taylor Brown, Executive Director & Founder of Arts Connect International, to reflect on the 2019 Arts Equity Summit, as well as ACI’s fifth anniversary celebrations. Read to learn more about their findings in a recent report, and how you can support equity in the arts within your own community.

Arts Equity Summit, 2019

Congratulations on celebrating five years of Arts Connect International. How did you celebrate?

Thank you! We can’t have a celebration without family and friends, so we had a fabulous birthday party hosted by Boston Art to bring community together. Adult and youth artists who have partnered with us over the years joined to share their talent with us, and powerhouse arts leaders of color in Boston demonstrated their thought leadership on a panel discussing their experiences in the arts and culture sector, in direct conversation with our research. Michael Rosegrant, Amanda Shea and Ny’lasia Brown performed incredible poetry. Ashe Gordon joined our Director, Allegra Fletcher, on viola to perform an original song that Allegra wrote after the time spent in Rwanda this June with ACI Artist in Residence Alum Hyppolite Ntigurirwa. To add another layer of joy, we spent the evening surrounded by a beautiful selection from The Founders Project, painted by ACI Artist in Residence Alum Stephen Hamilton. Our panel featured Lecolion Washington, Courtney Sharpe and Karen Young.

You also just recently released your report, “Moves Toward Equity: Perspectives from Arts Leaders of Color” – what are the main findings you’d like the community to take away from that, who may not have had a chance to read it?

In our report we highlight that the stories entrusted to our care are not untold, but are unheard. If there is anything to take away from the report, we hope that the reader is encouraged to listen, engage in open and honest conversation, and consider the ways in which they can take part in disrupting inequitable structures.

What small steps do you think the average person can make in their community to support equity in the arts?

Anyone can directly support the work of artists, organizations and institutions who address and bring attention to issues of equity. Attending events, buying an artist’s work, and giving to organizations working toward change often naturally lead one to deeper engagement with building equity. In building equity it is important to start with examining yourself, however. Even as you move outward into action or public debate, you never stop the reflective work or leave the posture of a learner. In this way, the public facing work is much more likely to be effective.

What do you think is the value of ArtWeek to the community, or has it been of value to your ACI community?

Increasing accessibility to the arts is of paramount importance. Art truly has the ability to change lives for the better, so we’re always appreciative of work and events that allow more people to engage in the arts and in important conversations.

We heard you’re already planning the annual Arts Equity Summit for 2020 – what will the focus be this year?

Our upcoming Arts Equity Summit, #AES2020, will take place April 24th-26th of 2020. We are excited to announce the launch of three discussion strands to guide our conversations. Directly guided by our recently released report, the #AES2020 discussion strands are:

1) Structures for Success: Building Equity in Your Organization: Conversations and trainings surrounding visions of equitable organizations and steps we can take to get us there.

2) Innovative Creatives: Building New Systems: Conversations for those interested in, or currently building equity in entrepreneurial ways, including new approaches and methods, systems, or structures.

3) Celebrating Resistance: Centering Community: Conversations celebrating equity work already taking place, with the aim of empowering others to continue, strengthen or start similar work.

We hope this will only add to the experience for participants.

For anyone who wants to learn more about getting involved with the summit, where can they go for that information?

All of the #AES2020 information including the calls for art, proposals, partnership and sponsorship are available on our Summit specific site, artsequitysummit.org

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