Blog Posts for connect

If you aren’t including the AAPI experience within your anti-racism efforts, are you truly practicing anti-racism?

Posted by Kayla Kim Votapek, Apr 14, 2021 0 comments

As a Korean adoptee facilitating anti-racism workshops within the arts field, I have experienced many artists who view race and racism as a black and white binary. I have noticed terms such as BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) being weaponized against People of the Global Majority by organizations when they are only referring to the Black community. Now, don’t get me wrong. We do need to center the most harmed and impacted communities which are the Black, Brown, and Indigenous communities. However, that does not mean communities such as the AAPI (Asian American Pacific Islander), Middle Eastern North African, Latinx, and Mixed should be forgotten. If your anti-racism work is not intersectional, you are still upholding white supremacy. This has shown up in the arts community even when artists are practicing and actively becoming anti-racist. I have had conversations with individuals who question if we should call the hate crimes the AAPI community is experiencing because of COVID-19 “racist events.” I have also had to explain that AAPI individuals who are light skinned do hold power but not enough to define, protect, and pass laws to protect our own community. When conversations and topics like these come up, my proximity to whiteness is questioned. This is white supremacy showing up. Not all Asians look like me. Not all Asians have a similar experience.

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Member Spotlight: Billy Ocasio

Posted by Linda Lombardi, Apr 12, 2021 0 comments

Located in Chicago’s Humboldt Park, the National Museum of Puerto Rican Arts & Culture (NMPRAC) is the only museum in the country outside of Puerto Rico dedicated exclusively to Puerto Rican arts and culture. Under Billy Ocasio’s leadership as executive director, the museum’s budget has tripled, staffing has grown, and visitor attendance has increased 67%. In 2012, NMPRAC was named the latest City of Chicago’s Museums in the Park, making history as the first new addition in over 20 years. “At NMPRAC, our vision is to be the premier organization that both influences and connects diasporic arts, culture, and history to evolving generations. Supporting both local and national Puerto Rican artists has always been important to the museum. To this day, finding new and creative ways to engage with our communities remains a top priority and can be witnessed through our programming, including the annual Barrio Arts Fest, various workshops, lectures, and panel discussions, as well as through exhibiting work from Puerto Rican artists.” 

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Alan Michelson’s Public Art: History and Place Matter a Lot

Posted by Mr. John W. Haworth, Mar 19, 2021 0 comments

According to the artist Alan Michelson—a Mohawk member of the Six Nations of the Grand River who is currently based in New York—history is unfinished business demanding our attention. He believes that American history needs to address some hard truths if we are ever to progress beyond this tragic juncture. Alan also believes that the arts generally, and public art in particular, play significant roles both in addressing complex issues and making important social change. From his Indigenous world view, the violent and fraudulent dispossession of Native people is a significant issue that must be front and center in the national discourse. He has contributed considerably to this discourse, especially in the last couple of years. The Whitney Museum presented his solo exhibition Wolf Nation (Oct. 25, 2019 through Jan. 12, 2020) and College Art Association named him one of their two Distinguished Artists for their 2021 conference. He has made substantive contributions to the national cultural conversation for years. As Alan conveys, “My work is very much grounded in the local, in place, and place can be fraught when you’re Indigenous.” From his perspective, understanding the historical and cultural dynamics of place is at the heart of his work. 

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10 Reasons to Support the Arts in 2021

Posted by Mr. Randy Cohen, Mar 17, 2021 0 comments

The effective arts advocate needs to articulate the value of the arts in as many ways as possible—from the passionately inherent to the functionally pragmatic—and to deploy the right case-making tool in the right moment. Consider these “10 Reasons to Support the Arts” as your Swiss army knife for arts advocacy. It can feel intimidating Zooming with, or walking into, a legislator’s office—even to experienced advocates. To always feel prepared, I break the advocacy process down into three questions: Who gets the message? What is the message? and, Who delivers the message? When you are preparing your case for the arts, remember The Golden Rule: No numbers without a story, and no stories without a number. The arts are all about stories—often small, always meaningful. Share yours. It is engaging and draws your listener in—and then pair it with the research-based findings in “10 Reasons to Support the Arts.” Yours will be an advocacy visit that is not soon forgotten!

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10 Trends that Will Impact Arts, Culture, and the Creative Economy in 2021

Posted by Mr. Clayton W. Lord, Mar 16, 2021 0 comments

About this time last year, Americans for the Arts staff put our heads together to create a “Trends in 2020” blog post. We didn’t anticipate an economy-grinding pandemic, which has devastatingly shaped everything this past year, but we did hit some of the other trends that occurred—demographic change, rising division and distrust, shifts towards equity, the fight over who would get to vote and political power, and the primacy of data. Across the arts field, most of us would agree that 2020 was a humbling, surprising, traumatic, and frustratingly unpredictable year. While trend forecasting in this moment is a tricky business, understanding what might be coming around the bend is crucial to our success as a field, particularly as we navigate such a volatile time. Who knows, honestly, what 2021 will bring—but the staff at Americans for the Arts got together (virtually, this time) and here’s what we’ve come up with—10 trends that we think will impact arts, culture, and the creative economy in 2021.

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Arts Spaces for Queer BIPOC During COVID: Paris Has Burned

Posted by Cedeem Gumbs, Mar 15, 2021 0 comments

Community as a concept is understood universally; in function its possibilities are inherently dynamic. However, community becomes a necessity when it supersedes formation through common interests and is developed by way of shared experiences. For some queer individuals, and specifically ones of color, the ballroom scene is an example of a community formed through the need to have a space where everyone understands each other through shared experience. In interviewing Noelle Deleon, a Black trans woman from Texas, we are allowed insight into the ballroom community that she recently found herself a part of. When asked about the importance of ballroom she says, “It's where queer men and trans women can go to be free. There is an absence of the influence and presence of people who don’t understand us.” However, there is an elephant in the (ball)room, and that is COVID-19. What happens to trans women when it is no longer safe to host these grand balls with hundreds of other people in the room? 

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