3 of My Top 5 Americans for the Arts Lists

Posted by Ari Albright, Nov 13, 2015 0 comments


The 5 best questions I heard at the meeting last month...

1.      Can a vibrant community respond to contemporary issues without losing their history? 

2.      Can one “codify” artist’s generosity?

3.      Does all access in a community mean a removal of barriers as well as providing opportunities for advancement?

4.      Can equity be included in the American narrative of self-determination?

5.      Can community vibrancy be engineered or must it be organic?

Oh! I wish I had come up with these questions last month at the Community Visions Forum in Saint Paul, MN. Instead, they came from the people I was meeting - new colleagues and collaborators - as we unpacked the role of arts in vibrant, equitable healthy communities. 

It was great to be a participant; usually I’m the facilitator.  It felt like the drive up from Vermillion, SD to St. Paul was a way to stretch myself professionally and check in to hear what and how people were engaging their communities with the arts.  Americans for the Arts had absorbed the materials of the former Society of Arts in Healthcare/Global Alliance for Arts in Health, an organization I valued very much. The daylong meeting turned out to be staged as a gentle, collaborative and relevant conversation by Michael Rohd of Center for Performance + Civic Practice, with Clay Lord and a host of folks assisting the event.

I was inspired by the range and caliber of arts programming this group embodied. Each of us at some point in the day, shared successes and challenges we’ve navigated during our professional treks.


The 5 things I was most surprised by…


1.      the diversity of voices from folks who attended.

2.      the devotion of artists to their community.

3.      the inclusive and welcoming nature of attendees.

4.      how many creative solutions are already in motion in our region.

5.      how interwoven community wellness and the arts advocacy are.

I came to talk about my experiences as a fine artist working in healthcare environments in South Dakota.  The arts have had a notable impact on whole life care with residents at Sanford Vermillion’s long-term care facility. I enjoy the challenges of solving problems with administrators and clinicians. I enjoy working with students and artists in my area, sharing healthcare protocol, project development and invitation strategies with folks interested in this service career.











These are the questions I continue to ask…


1.      What would encourage fine artists to seek out professional development training in order to work in healthcare environments?

2.      How do we assure quality arts engagement for new facilities and their clients?

3.      What kind of arts programming is most relevant as care for caregivers?

4.      How can the arts best assist in long-term and end of life care?

5.      Which personal characteristics, inherent to the artistic process, are applicable in healthcare?

  • Authenticity
  • Sensitivity to cultural values, diversity
  • Strong observation skills
  • Openness to learning
  • Sense of humor
  • Consistent enthusiasm
  • Ability to improvise (see “in the moment”)
  • Good health
  • Ability to collaborate

I look forward to continuing this conversation with my new colleagues and collaborators in the near future!

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