“Our breakthrough moment was when we took ownership of the fact that we didn’t need to write a “social impact statement” (which might be seen as competing with our mission statement). Rather, we simply needed to articulate the problem our community is facing that we are uniquely suited to address, the best solution we believe exists for that problem, and the concrete and tangible outcomes we’re going to measure that will demonstrate our positive social impact.” – Medium
This year the organization will extend its 25-year-old Diversity in Arts Leadership program beyond New York City to New Jersey and Iowa, launch an Arts & Cultural Equity Fellows program in the Great Lakes region, create an Arts & Culture Leaders of Color Network, and begin a 3-day retreat called the Leaders of Color Forum. — Americans for the Arts
“This year’s cohort includes smaller organizations that are at the forefront of using cultural production to address contemporary issues such as LGBTQ rights, distributive justice, court diversion for youth, and domestic violence. Grantees include Fourth Arts Block, Disability/Arts/NYC, Jack, Alice Austen House, Photo Requests from Solitary (A Project of Solitary Watch), Wendy’s Subway, and Forward Union. Among the larger institutions receiving funding are El Museo del Barrio, the Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art, the Queens Museum, and the Studio Museum in Harlem.” – Art Forum
An Arts Council England-funded program called Creative People and Places “aims to increase arts participation in places where people are less likely to take part in arts activity” — and it seems to be succeeding with the groups least likely to engage with the arts generally. What’s the secret? Nothing very secret at all, actually. — Arts Professional
This talk by the founders of of MeowWolf explains how giving participants the ability to create their own experiences in a virtual world is a powerful way to make art more accessible, meaningful, and inclusive. (includes a good history of how immersive storytelling has evolved) – American Museums (YouTube)
An exploration of “whether music can contribute to health equity and social justice, by enhancing positive Social Determinants of Health (SDOH), and alleviating negatives ones. Twenty‐six authors consider this question from a range of angles, including micro‐level (small group) interventions, meso‐level (community) initiatives, and macro‐level (societal) approaches.” – Health Promotion Journal of Australia [Academic journal – paid access]
The leader and a researcher from the Performance Without Barriers project write about how, always working with disabled performers themselves, they’ve adapted VR technology to augment the instrument of a blind clarinetist and create an entirely new instrument for a musician with cerebral palsy. — The Conversation
Make-Believe is a new podcast company in Chicago, and is, as Jeremy McCarter likes to put it, a podcast that’s “one part live theater, one part TV production, one part social science… Chicago is multiple cities. The discourse becomes more authentic when you can bridge — let’s call it what it is — segregation.” – The New York Times
This new wave “is a consideration of the aesthetic possibilities of disability. It’s not about adaptation or accommodation. It’s about how unique bodies, minds, senses and phenomenological experiences of disability and impairment—along with the political aspects and intersectional identities—can create new work.” – Vice
Reporter Cintia Lopez joins members of the Boston ensemble Sarasa for one of their performance/workshops at a Massachusetts Department of Youth Services facility. — WBUR (Boston)
Working at the intersection of moral and political philosophy, social science, and economics, Elizabeth Anderson has become a leading theorist of democracy and social justice. She has built a case, elaborated across decades, that equality is the basis for a free society. Her work, drawing on real-world problems and information, has helped to redefine the way contemporary philosophy is done, leading what might be called the Michigan school of thought. – The New Yorker
Howlround’s director reflects on the remaking of the theatre commons and what has been accomplished in 2018.
“The original “Fidelio” took place in 18th-century Spain and explored the vindictive nature of a tyrannical prison governor. Heartbeat Opera’s rendition takes place in modern-day America where an African-American woman named Leah disguises herself as a correctional officer named Lee. She goes to work at a prison where her husband, Stan, is being held in abysmal conditions by a vengeful warden for being a Black Lives Matter activist. – Columbia Spectator
“The Lighthouse Guild sent a letter to students in June — in large print, for the visually impaired — notifying them that [the Filomen M. D’Agostino Greenberg Music School] would no longer be part of the Guild’s future and that it must leave the Guild’s building on West 64th Street [in Manhattan].” — The New York Times
“Latinx theatre and theatremakers in Chicago are consistently ignored, erased, or misunderstood by both critics at mainstream publications and the city’s one major awards body, the Joseph Jefferson Awards. And this is not to mention the wider demonization of Latinx people by the current political administration and the long history of racism and state violence facing people of color that is endemic to the United States. The ALTAs” — presented and produced by the Alliance of Latinx Theater Artists of Chicago — “were a response to a deeply felt need by the community and offered an alternative to majority-white modes of professional recognition and prestige.” — HowlRound
Broadening the focus to include more qualitative and mixed method techniques could make it easier to improve practice and integrate arts interventions more deeply into the healthcare and justice systems, it suggests. “The outcome that’s the easiest to measure is not necessarily the best thing to measure,” the report notes. “Is a different type of ‘gold standard’ possible?” — Arts Professional
Code Listen is part of a multi-dimensional sequence begun in 2016, including workshops, discussions, music making and performances. Liu uses music to catalyze dialogue and healing around urgent issues of our times. She seeks to reach beyond the traditional classical audience to a wider cross-section of the public. With Code Listen, Liu hopes to “create dialogue with homicide survivors and the wider community of people who have not (or think they have not) been directly impacted by homicide.” Her events see professionals joining with police officers, teens, school children and members of the public. Liu’s work challenges people towards reflection, innovation and change. – Exhale Lifestyle
“As a secular American living in Manhattan, I’m a stranger to the senator’s world of church and picnics. I worry that religion may be as much divisive as binding in America’s map of red versus blue. My professional world is one of orchestras (with which I work) and cultural history (about which I write). My perspective suggests another opportunity for healing—regaining a lost “sense of place” and shared American identity via our history and culture. And, yes, I mean high culture.” – The Weekly Standard
Cecilia Olusola Tribble of metro Nashville’s Office of Arts and Culture writes about the Restorative Justice + the Arts program, which trains artists to teach and work with inmates at a Nashville juvenile detention center. — Americans for the Arts
“A group of disabled theatre artists have announced the creation of National Disability Theatre, a company that will produce fully accessible live performances. The company will exclusively contract actors, designers, directors, and staff who have disabilities.” — American Theatre
The Community Engagement Training offered by ArtsEngaged is also preparing new trainers. As a culminating part of their work, they prepare a case study critiquing a project they know well. Here are the first four: Classical Roots, an ongoing program of the Cincinnati Symphony with choirs from the city’s African-American churches; a partnership between the Segerstrom Center for the Arts (Orange County, CA) and the service organization Alzheimer’s Orange County; the Cincinnati Arts Association’s production of a concert with the Urban Appalachian Community Coalition; and the productive merger of two film festivals, one larger and of general interest and the other smaller and LGBTQ-focused.
The Detroit-based Sphinx Organization, which for 22 years has run education programs and competitions to develop black and Latinx classical music performers, “is launching a leadership development program with educational and mentorship components aimed at cultivating black and Latinx candidates for leadership positions in orchestras, conservatories and music schools across the country.”
The site-specific New York company On Site Opera, which has already staged productions at a mannequin showroom, Harlem’s Cotton Club, the Bronx Zoo, and Madame Tussaud’s, is presenting Gian Carlo Menotti’s Christmas opera at the Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen, with the chorus recruited from the clients of Breaking Ground, which provides permanent housing and services for the homeless.
“Project 440 is the brainchild of Joseph Conyers, assistant principal bassist with the Philadelphia Orchestra, who often explains to people that yes, he does operate a music organization that doesn’t teach music.” Says Conyers, “The arts can play a pivotal role in underserved communities, giving kids opportunities, giving them things that they keep for the rest of their lives.”
“Our mission is simple: to serve as an amplifier within the music community, and to advance the music economy through shared learning, collaboration and partnerships. I believe that music is important to the future of Detroit because it captures and elevates the city’s legacy and community voice through song, and it can also serve as a significant economic driver for the city.”
The Atlanta-based organization currently holds more than 1,000 works, by artist ranging from the self-taught Nellie Mae Rowe (whose materials include old egg cartons and chewing gum) to the quilters of Gee’s Bend, Alabama. Along with collecting work themselves, the staffers of Souls Grown Deep are working to place pieces by their artists in museum collections.
The plethora of reports and investigations drawn together in the review reveal that people with higher incomes attend arts events in disproportionately high numbers, but they are less likely to actively participate in cultural activities. Participatory arts activities are more popular among those with flexible working schedules and more disposable time than among “those who are both objectively and subjectively ‘busy’”, who opt for less time-consuming forms of leisure.
“When an institution does not evolve with best practices that include parent support, it risks suppressing, isolating, and driving out the most socially vulnerable regardless of their high professional capability and artistic potential. Our organization, Parent Artist Advocacy for the Performing Arts, is creating a National Handbook of Best Practices for institutions to support parent artists, collecting interviews with individuals alongside testimonies from institutions … to gain full perspective of harmful or healthy practice within the context of employment and caregiving.”
The David Herrera Performance Company is one of nine artists at ¡FLACC! — The Festival of Latin American Contemporary Choreographers — “[a] three-day festival exploring how political, economic, racial, and religious tensions impact Latinx communities, and how they can survive them. Pointedly, the event takes place in [San Francisco’s] predominantly Latinx Mission district, a neighborhood currently enduring a wave of gentrification, and in a venue trying to stay afloat with increasing rental costs.”
Nearly 40 applicant teams of directors and designers each created a production concept for an opera chosen from a curated repertoire list. Submissions included visions for staging, scenery, props, costumes and required personnel. These are the four team finalists.