Blog Posts for Community Engagement

Making art in person with community: Is it worth the risk in a pandemic?

Posted by Julia Vogl, Sep 23, 2020 0 comments

Whenever you make public art, there are risks—usually financial. But today with monuments being challenged, politics, history, and community emotions are often also at play. Oh, and we are in a pandemic. When everything was halted in March, I fell into a depression. The prospect of making art with community, if we could do it safely, felt like a mental health salvation. Our Neighborhood Rolls became a beautification project to cover the cinder block wall at the side of a building, but primarily it was envisioned as a point of pride that, in the making, would build community-a meaningful, fun, educational, and engaging project for local kids and residents in Kingston, NY. At a time when everyone is evaluating what risks are worth taking for the greater good, maybe making art with people in public sounds like an unnecessary hazard. However, after my experience in Kingston, I would argue it was an essential action. It greatly impacted my mental health, and visibly demonstrated the importance of placemaking and tangible engagement for community in these apocalyptic times.

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How to Secure a Local Proclamation for National Arts & Humanities Month

Posted by Mr. Jay H. Dick, Sep 08, 2020 0 comments

Proclamations are a wonderful way that your mayor, city council, or your city (or county) in general can easily show its support for the arts and culture. Each year, Americans for the Arts encourages advocates to work with their local and state elected officials to issue a proclamation declaring October National Arts & Humanities Month in their city, county, or state. They allow elected officials to easily demonstrate their support for the arts, offer a written document for advocates to use year-round to demonstrate the value of the arts and culture, and serve as a tool to engage other arts advocates in their local communities. For those who have never done this before, I thought that I would offer a how-to guide help you understand the process of obtaining a proclamation.

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Member Spotlight: Franiya Tiffany

Posted by Isaac Fitzsimons, Aug 17, 2020 0 comments

Franiya Tiffany is an actress, entertainer, and innovator from Florida. At only 10 years old, she is one of Americans for the Arts’ youngest members. A musician and performer, Tiffany is launching a nonprofit, Love Your Art Project, to help reduce poverty and empower her generation. We were excited to have a conversation with her about how she got her start in the arts, her experience as a guest on NBC’s Today Show, and her perspective on how we can all make a difference in our communities. "The future is ours. Without us using our voices now we will continue to see a repeat of the unchanged problems that will keep affecting every generation, one after another. When young people use our voices and stand tall, we can fix and unite the world in ways that will bring lasting love and change." 

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Festival Aims to Empower Artists to Improve Their Health

Posted by Holly M Kelly, Aug 13, 2020 0 comments

The idea to exchange visual art and musical performances for healthcare was hatched in a conversation over a beer between a Kingston, NY, dentist and a painter. From that creative brainstorming session a small group of underinsured artists and providers was formed to found the first O+ (pronounced O Positive) Festival in 2010. The inaugural festival featured a parade, paste-up murals, and concerts in empty storefronts, and volunteer providers built a small pop-up clinic to care for the participating artists and musicians. Their simple idea of exchanging “the art of medicine for the medicine of art” acknowledged the value that everyone brought to their community. The festival was a way to both celebrate that and bring attention to the inequities of the American healthcare system. At the heart of the festival is the Artists’ Clinic and Greenroom. Participating artists, musicians, and volunteers receive care from volunteer nurses, doctors, bodyworkers, and mental health professionals in a clinic we install in a community hall and from dentists in their offices. An insurance navigator from The Actors Fund is on hand to provide information and guidance. The hall also houses our Greenroom, a place for participating artists, musicians, volunteers, and healers to relax over a home-cooked meal.

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Adaptation and Reimagination: Engaging Youth in Arts and Social Justice Virtually

Posted by Rena A. Cohen, Jul 30, 2020 0 comments

As public health guidelines limited social gatherings and encouraged social distancing, arts education and social justice programs needed to reconsider their traditional in-person activities—creating a collaborative activist mural, for example, or performing an original play—for the safety of their communities. How did they bring together young people in meaningful, socially engaged arts experiences without being together physically? I had the opportunity to speak with representatives from three organizations who have fearlessly navigated the complicated world of re-envisioning onstage performances, keeping students of various ages engaged over Zoom, and creating a sense of community among young people who may have never met in person. In their interviews, each leader explained how their organization has adapted and reimagined programs to engage youth in arts and social justice virtually and offered insight on how your community can do the same.

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Spotlight on 2020 Johnson Fellowship Nominees: Music as the Heart of Equitable Neighborhood Development

Posted by Ms. Pam Korza, Jul 20, 2020 0 comments

This last post in our ARTSblog series featuring nominees for the 2020 Johnson Fellowship for Artists Transforming Communities celebrates Eddy Kwon—musician, educator, program designer, and facilitator of equitable community development. Integrating music as a fundamental component of Price Hill Will, a community development organization in Cincinnati, Kwon’s impacts are many and draw upon their own unique artistry and artistic vision, sustained work in creative youth development, and innovative initiatives in creative citizenship. First, Eddy Kwon is a composer, violinist, jazz musician, and improviser, performing as a member of the Art Ensemble of Chicago and with musicians from the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians. Kwon is equally a community leader who works daily at the intersection of creative youth development, creative citizenship, and equitable community development. 

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