2020 Robert E. Gard Award
Americans for the Arts is pleased to announce that ten projects have been selected as finalists for the Robert E. Gard Award, which honors projects from the last year that have integrated the arts into the community in meaningful, measurable ways. Members are invited to help select the winner by selecting up to three of their favorite projects.
Voting for the 2020 Robert E. Gard Award is now closed. The winner will be announced to the public during the 2020 Annual Convention.
Below are this year’s submissions, please click the boxes to view a full-sized image as well as the project description and partners. Interested in seeing the 10 finalists from 2019? Click here!
The Red Door Project’s EVOLVE
Julana Torres and Rico Anderson perform in The Red Door Project's EVOLVE which explores the relationship between law enforcement and communities of color
Photo credit: Kathleen Kelly
The Red Door Project’s EVOLVEPROJECT DESCRIPTION
The Red Door Project’s EVOLVE is a live performance experience exploring the relationship between police and communities of color, generating empathy and stimulating conversation to bridge a seemingly intractable divide. Accompanying curriculum encourages participants to reflect on their experience, engage in dialogue, and build motivation to take action towards systemic change. EVOLVE seeks to transform human relations, connect us with our common humanity and increase our collective capacity to productively address significant social issues.
The Red Door Project’s mission is to change racial ecology through the arts. Art can help people move through the natural tendency to protect and begin to address reforms needed in our criminal justice system. Onstage, stories become a tool for community-building, enabling people to connect with their common humanity across difference, discover shared values, take on alternative views, see multiple truths and understand what it feels like to be someone else.HOW THIS PROJECT EXEMPLIFIES ART/NON-ARTS PARTNERSHIP, MEANINGFUL IMPACT, AND INGENUITY
EVOLVE interweaves monologues from Red Door productions of Hands Up: 7 Playwrights, 7 Testaments and Cop Out: Beyond Black, White & Blue – both of which explore themes of racial profiling and community wellness, from the perspectives of Black Americans and police, respectively. EVOLVE is the result of three years of listening, relationship and partnership development between Kevin Jones, co-founder and artistic director of Red Door, and now retired Portland Police Bureau Deputy Chief Robert Day. Each EVOLVE production is evaluated with pre and post surveys and follow-up with participants to gauge longer-term impact. In 2019 almost 600 Oregon law enforcement professionals (local police, FBI, district attorneys, judges, etc.) experienced EVOLVE. 90% of participants reported increased motivation to listen and more deeply consider the perspective of people with vastly different life experiences. The Red Door challenges convention in its approach to addressing contentious issues, including the difficult relationship between criminal justice institutions and the communities they serve. EVOLVE is a model for using art to build individual capacity for transformation. The overwhelming response to EVOLVE including a feature on PBS NewsHour, has encouraged Red Door to begin touring EVOLVE nationally, in partnership with local law enforcement entities.THE “ARTS AND” PARTNERSHIP
Primary partners: Red Door co-founders Kevin Jones and Leslie Mones; Former Portland Police Bureau Deputy Chief Robert Day; Chicago playwright Shepsu Aakhu
The importance of the partnership between Red Door co-founders Lesli Mones and Kevin Jones and now retired PPB Deputy Chief Robert Day, cannot be overstated. Day was the driving force behind bringing statewide criminal justice leadership together for EVOLVE. He is a full partner in this work and credits the Red Door’s work with changing his heart and mind about how race impacts law enforcement work and decisions. Chicago playwright Shepsu Aakhu not only penned several monologues for Cop Out, but acted as dramaturg for the project, shepherding the show to completion. He continues to partner with the Red Door as they imagine the next iterations of the production, including a version of the show written for a single actor. EVOLVE grew from more than $750,000 investment by Oregon foundations and donors, development of an acting troupe, commissions of national recognized writers, and partnerships with multiple sectors including law enforcement.
Military Arts Connection
Artist Facilitator Josh Stelly works with MAC participants in his Manitou Springs studio.
Photography by Anslee Wolfe, on behalf of Colorado Springs Health Foundation (a local funder of the MAC program)
Military Arts ConnectionPROJECT DESCRIPTION
In partnership with Creative Forces®: NEA Military Healing Arts Network, and Colorado Creative Industries, the Cultural Office of the Pikes Peak Region has launched Military Arts Connection (MAC), an online tool that connects military service members, veterans and their families to a wide variety of local arts enrichment experiences. With financial support from regional funders, MAC program experiences are provided free of charge to the military community, while participating Artist Facilitators are compensated fairly for their time and creative talent. Since June 2019, over 300 experiences have been ordered through the MilitaryArtsConnection.org website, over 50 Artist Facilitators have been trained, and more than 20 Military & Veteran Services Organizations are making referrals to the program. Ultimately, MAC is about leveraging the power of the arts to help create stronger community connections, learn new skills, and enable our local military service members, veterans and their families to unleash their inner creativity.HOW THIS PROJECT EXEMPLIFIES ART/NON-ARTS PARTNERSHIP, MEANINGFUL IMPACT, AND INGENUITY
The MAC program represents an exciting new collaboration between the arts and military sectors in Colorado’s Pikes Peak region. In a community with five military installations, over 100,000 veterans, and more than 100,000 military dependents, MAC is working successfully with 20+ military and veteran service organizations, for-profit businesses, school districts, and local DoD partners to provide meaningful support for local military populations on their journeys of recovery, resiliency, and enrichment. Although still a young program, MAC has already had a positive impact on over 300 military community members. Upon completion of each MAC experience, the Artist Facilitator and the military Participant are tasked with completing a brief evaluation survey. Since the survey is a requirement before any Artist Facilitator can be paid, their response rate is 100%. The response rate from military Participants is running at about 33%--though that number is trending upwards as we implement new strategies to encourage more responses. Feedback from both cohorts has been overwhelming positive, and the narrative comments are often quite inspiring. Consistent with the NEA’s national vision for Creative Forces, the innovative MAC program model and unique website infrastructure were intentionally designed to be shared and replicated in other communities.THE “ARTS AND” PARTNERSHIP
Sheila Sears, Deputy Director (now retired), Colorado Creative Industries; Michael O'Cana, Partner & Director of Web, Neon Pig Creative; Dimas Gutierrez, Software Engineer, Apps Plus Software; Andrew Hershberger, Owner, Andrew Hershberger Creative; Erin Fowler, Clinical Therapist, University of Colorado Colorado Springs-Veterans Health and Trauma Clinic; Deborah Thornton, Executive Director, Imagination Celebration; Robin Dahmen, RN Case Manager, Fort Carson Warrior Recovery Center; Katie Sanders, Music Therapist, Fort Carson Warrior Recovery Center
Sheila was a key collaborator and point of contact at Colorado Creative Industries. Michael and Dimas were the architects of the MilitaryArtsConnection.org website. They continue to work with the MAC program to troubleshoot coding issues, make website enhancements, and ensure the smooth functionality of all web-based systems. Erin and Deborah (and their respective teams) were responsible for the design and delivery of the required training for Artist Facilitators and Service Organizations. Sheila, Erin and Deborah also served on our Creative Forces Steering Committee (along with Robin, Katie, and more than 20 other community stakeholders), which guided the development of the MAC program in its earlier stages. In addition to the NEA and Colorado Creative Industries, we also have three other funding partners (Colorado Springs Health Foundation, Arts in Society, and El Pomar Foundation) who have collectively invested almost $200K to help support and sustain the MAC program.
SFAI Story Maps Fellowship
SFAI Story Maps FellowshipPROJECT DESCRIPTION
Launched in 2018, the SFAI Story Maps Fellowship (SMF) is a multi-disciplinary collaborative residency program supporting local artists who identify as Indigenous, Black or people of color to work in partnership with the City of Santa Fe and other non-arts organizations on the mutual goals of fostering greater inclusion and equity in civic engagement and sustained positive social change. Over the course of nine months, Fellows receive a stipend, workspace, and studio space to work with municipal partners and collaborate on issues integral to Northern New Mexico through identifying community needs, gathering stories, and mapping cultural and community assets; exploring city policies and systems; and building inclusive relationships and networks with the potential to open pathways to a more equitable community. SFAI’s long-term goal is to invest in transformational, equitable, and collaborative artistic and civic processes that break down barriers, build bridges, and create a shared sense of place and belonging.HOW THIS PROJECT EXEMPLIFIES ART/NON-ARTS PARTNERSHIP, MEANINGFUL IMPACT, AND INGENUITY
The Story Maps Fellowship is a unique arts/ non-arts partnership with its focus on artistic leadership by local BIPOC artists, who work in collaboration with civic partners on addressing specific community issues. SMF provides a forum for dialogue, skill sharing, research, critical thinking, and creative problem solving between people with different backgrounds, perspectives, abilities, and roles in the Santa Fe community, who otherwise may never connect, have access to the same resources or knowledge bases, or even a shared vocabulary.
Impact of the SMF is measured both in civic engagement and impact on the artist Fellows. Excitingly, in 2020, the City has stepped more deeply into this partnership with a goal to collectively focus on the City’s Built for Zero initiative, to end homelessness in Santa Fe. This model should be replicated, because the SMF ensures that the artists are leaders in the civic process. Since its launch in 2018, all 8 alumni of the program have moved deeper into community based work, including working for the City, receiving grants for continuing community engaged practice, becoming leaders such as appointed to the local Arts Commission, or pursuing study of an advanced community planning degree.THE “ARTS AND” PARTNERSHIP
Civic and Non-Arts Partners: City of Santa Fe Affordable Housing Office, 2018-2020; City of Santa Fe Arts and Culture Department 2018-2020; City of Santa Fe Community Services Department, 2020; City of Santa Fe Economic Development Office, 2018; City of Santa Fe Fire Department Mobile Integrated Health Office (MIHO), 2018; City of Santa Fe Parks and Recreation Department, 2018 and 2020; Santa Fe Dreamers Project, 2019; ¡Youthworks! 2019. Story Maps Fellows: Hazel Batrezchavez, 2019; Heidi Brandow, 2018; Scarlett Cortez, 2019; Mya Green, 2018; Ehren Kee Natay, 2019; Terran Last Gun Kipp, 2018; Sara Rivera, 2019; Yvette Serrano, 2018. Story Maps Mentors: Jamie Figueroa, 2019; Cannupa Hanska Lugar, 2018; Nuttaphol Ma, 2018; Eliza Naranjo Morse, 2019; Chrissie Orr, 2018-19; Edie Tsong, 2018- 19. SFAI Staff: Kourtney Andar, SFAI Works Manager; Jamie Blosser, SFAI Executive Director; Raquel Covarrubias, SFAI Arts Administrative Assistant; Renee Innis, SFAI Design & Communications Manager; Toni Gentilli, SFAI Residency Director; Cristina Gonzalez, 2018 SMF Program Manager; Nuttaphol Ma, SFAI Strategic Initiatives Coordinator; Oscar Maynard, 2019 SFAI Alumni Fellow; Winoka Yepa, 2019 SMF Program Manager.
The Story Maps Fellowship (SMF) requires significant collaboration and multiple partnerships. The listed individuals include selected Story Maps Fellows for 2018 and 2019; mentors for 2018 and 2019, who are all community practice artists in the local Northern New Mexico community, and who provide mentorship to the Fellows; Civic and Non-Arts Partners who agree to act as hosts for the Story Maps Fellows; and SFAI staff, who provide support to the program.
Springboard for the Arts’ Cultivate Bottineau Placemaking Project
(l to r) Mayor of Crystal, MN, Jim Adams; Springboard for the Arts Director of Community Development Programs Jun-Li Wang; Artists Nick Knutson (in the robot costume), Shawn McCann, and Geno Okok; Hennepin County Senior Planning Analyst Crystal Myslajek and family; Hennepin County Commissioner Mike Opat (Dist. 1), at the Art on the Strip celebration in Crystal, in front of a new mural commissioned from McCann for Cultivate Bottineau.
Photo Credit: Peter Jamus
Springboard for the Arts’ Cultivate Bottineau Placemaking ProjectPROJECT DESCRIPTION
Cultivate Bottineau was a two-year collaborative effort to activate spaces, build connections, celebrate diversity, and promote opportunity along the Bottineau Corridor, where the planned Light Rail Transit extension will run. Springboard for the Arts and Hennepin County, the five cities along the extension corridor, African Career Education and Resource, Inc (ACER), and other community partners engaged over 200 local artists to create 26 projects that activated public spaces and created a support network to weather the construction period and view the corridor with new eyes. Following initial information sessions and trainings, participating artists received commissions of $1,000-$3,000 to work in collaboration with other artists and local businesses. The two-year creative placemaking effort led to a range of projects, from large-scale, permanent murals to one-time, participatory crafts. The project created connections between community members, local governments, organizations, and artists that will continue through completion of the light rail and beyond.HOW THIS PROJECT EXEMPLIFIES ART/NON-ARTS PARTNERSHIP, MEANINGFUL IMPACT, AND INGENUITY
Through Cultivate Bottineau, Springboard for the Arts exemplified arts/non-arts partnership by leading the project in partnership with five cities along the Bottineau Light Rail corridor, including Minneapolis, Golden Valley, Robbinsdale, Crystal, and Brooklyn Park. Local city governments and businesses connected with artists, seeing artists as assets and leaders within their communities. For example, Liberian artist Geno Okok created an exterior mural in partnership with Value Foods African Market in Brooklyn Park. From this experience, and with additional Bottineau funding, he later shared African mask making at community events, where he met staff from the City of Brooklyn Park, who subsequently invited him to join the Brooklyn Park City Hall Enhancement Taskforce. As Geno became connected to civic organizations and opportunities, he won a grant from the City of Brooklyn Park’s West Mississippi Pollution Reduction Project to work with a group of young people to create a mural highlighting best practices stormwater management. This is but one example of the ingenuity behind working with city governments and businesses to unearth their local assets, providing training and financial support, and then allowing artists and their partners to define how best to use that support in order to engage their communities.THE “ARTS AND” PARTNERSHIP
Project leads: Keiona Cook, Nancy Cook, Zakara Cunningham, Angela Davis, Darren Isaacson, Hawona Sullivan Janzen, Jila Nikpay, Amy Sands, Bryan Thao Worra, Sue Trosvig, Snoti Jappah, Josh Bindewald, N'Kol Imani Dowls, Kristi Evanger, Callie Kalogerson, Chris Kalogerson, Caron Learned, Shawn McCann, Geno Okok, Lili Payne, Brittany Wright, Stayci Bell, Mary Kalogerson, Mira Kehoe, Mike Klein, Nicholas Knutson, Devonne Mayweather, Laura Stigen. Community collaborators and hosts: African Career Education and Resource Inc., African Market, Asian Media Access, CCX Media, City of Brooklyn Park, City of Crystal, City of Crystal Parks & Recreation, City of Golden Valley, City of Minneapolis, City of Robbinsdale, Comfort Pies, Copperfield Hill Senior Living, Crystal Community Center, The Finding Free Iniative, Harrison Neighborhood Association, Hennepin County Library (Brooklyn Park), Homewood Studios, Lao Assistance Center, Market in the Valley, North Regional Library, Robbinsdale Chamber of Commerce, Robbinsdale Historical Society, Rostamo’s Bar, St. Margret Mary Church, Sumner Library, Unity Minneapolis Church, Youth Farm, Zane Recreational Center (Brooklyn Park). Community hosts: City of Crystal, Harrison Neighborrhood Association, Harrison Recreational Center, North Hennepin Community College, Perpich Center for Arts Education, Wicked Wort Brewing.
Dedication Day. Bureau of Enquiry
community collabARTivePROJECT DESCRIPTION
The community collabARTive began in 1999 with funding for nine months. Co-founders Con Christeson (managing artist) and Tom Burnham (Shelter Director) worked with men in a transitional housing program at Peter&Paul Community Services. Thursday nights found them cooking, eating, and making art i.e. writing, printmaking, painting, and photography. The original goal was to produce a handmade book titled "How do I get home? How much does it cost?" That was the beginning of 21 years of weekly art groups with hundreds of men, more books, exhibitions, performances, and countless stories that tell the greater community that homelessness is not the only chapter in any person’s narrative. Stories that humanize, that shrink the distance between Us and Them to become the We. The collabARTive is integrated now into two additional programs. Residents AND alumni return weekly to support each other and the community that was built, one Thursday at a time.HOW THIS PROJECT EXEMPLIFIES ART/NON-ARTS PARTNERSHIP, MEANINGFUL IMPACT, AND INGENUITY
Participants are in transitional housing, from multiple ethnicities and social strata, working their way out of homelessness. Art-making models the skills of: problem-solving, personal insight, and relationship. To quote a 2012 documentary: “You don’t see us down and out. You see us doing positive things, good things. And having a mind to expand to horizons beyond our wildest dreams.” The community collabARTive now works across all of Peter&Paul’s programs. When the agency built new facilities, an art studio was included along with support for a Cherokee Street studio, giving the men [and now women] community access. The collabARTive is integrated into the neighborhood with projects, street events, and multi-media performances. With free 'Zines ‘published’ to the rack outside the door. Across the street, the 2019 mural “Bureau of Enquiry”, quietly confronts with curated questions, ‘listening’ for stories from passersby. Public exhibitions, murals, and performances impact stereotypes, influence how the greater community sees the struggles of men and women telling their stories. Art is the connecting thread. It draws people together people to engage, appreciate, and co-create. Homelessness becomes not an “issue” but part of the stories of real people who make art to tell those stories.THE “ARTS AND” PARTNERSHIP
Con Christeson, managing artist; Tom Burnham, Shelter Services Manager, Peter&Paul Community Services; Numerous artists include: Tali Light (visual artist), Jane Ellen Ibur (poet/writer), Phil Robinson (visual artist), Gina Alvarez (printmaker), Ann Haubrich (writer), Robert Longyear (visual artist), Jean Kerr (choreographer/producer), Tom Brady (dancer/performance artist) and Lois Ingrum (photographer).
All the named above (and many more over the years) are professional artists who keep us grounded in good process, model effective presentation, and facilitate good product. Each agrees to work WITH participants to design a collective approach, keeping the goal of the transitional programs in mind. Each worked for various periods of time depending on the project, and all artists are paid.
Following in the Footsteps of Alexander Hamilton, year III
Following in the Footsteps of Alexander Hamilton, year IIIPROJECT DESCRIPTION
Following in the Footsteps of Alexander Hamilton mural project was a collaboration between CITYarts, Harlem middle school students, the New York City Parks Department, and community volunteers. Three murals over three years were created in Hamilton Playground in Harlem’s Hamilton Heights. This playground, bordered by West 140th Street, West 141st Street, and Hamilton Place, is named after one of the neighborhood’s most distinguished residents, founding father Alexander Hamilton. Hamilton Playground is used for a variety of community events and activities, but the park had fallen into a state of disrepair. The Following in the Footsteps of Alexander Hamilton mural project was initiated by a request from Mr. Luke Bolton, who teaches Humanities at the local Hamilton Grange middle school. Mr. Bolton, who also runs the Junior Youth Spiritual Empowerment afterschool program, reached out to CITYarts seeking to involve his students in an extracurricular project that would also improve their neighborhood.HOW THIS PROJECT EXEMPLIFIES ART/NON-ARTS PARTNERSHIP, MEANINGFUL IMPACT, AND INGENUITY
Harlem is a diverse, underserved neighborhood facing rapid gentrification. Issues such as increased housing costs and economic inequality threaten its residents with physical, emotional, and social displacement. Teenagers in this large community are especially susceptible to negative influences and antisocial behavior, given the tumultuous process of instability and maturation almost all adolescents experience. The CITYarts mural project simultaneously engaged youth, schools, and community members in positive activities during the hours that youth are most likely to engage in risky behavior (3pm-6pm, according to US Department of Justice statistics), beautified a low-income neighborhood and gave them a sense of ownership over their future and pride in their community. Participants have left their positive mark on their neighborhood and community.THE “ARTS AND” PARTNERSHIP
Collaborators: Students at Hamilton Grange Middle School, New Design Middle School, Urban Assembly for Performing Arts, and Democracy Prep Harlem High School. Junior Youth Spiritual Empowerment Program; Brotherhood Sister Sol; It Takes a Village to Raise Fantabulous Children!; Summer Youth Employment Program (SYEP). CITYarts Artist: Hugo Bastidas; CITYarts Volunteers, Interns & Staff. Supporters:Council Member Mark Levine, NYC Parks & Rec, West Harlem Development Corporation.
Our Collaborators meaningfully and materially helped this project be realized through volunteer efforts and youth involvement. Our lead artist, Hugo Bastidas, guided youth during the process, teaching tools and techniques while also allowing their imaginations and ideas to steer the overall look and feel of the murals. Our supporters helped either financially or with promoting and facilitating the collaborations.
Sing for Hope + Playbill + National Park Service World Pride Concerts
The Broadway cast of Come from Away gives a free public performance at the Playbill SFH Piano at Stonewall National Monument. Cast members, some of whom are members of the LGBTQ+ community, also shared emotional testimonials about how much it means to the theater community to have this type of environment where all have a place to express themselves openly.
Sing for Hope + Playbill + National Park Service World Pride ConcertsPROJECT DESCRIPTION
Sing for Hope (SFH), Playbill, and The National Park Service (guardians of the Stonewall National Monument) partnered to bring artistic outlet to 2019 World Pride, hosted in NYC. The Playbill SFH Piano (one of 50 artist-designed pianos in Sing for Hope’s outdoor installation) was covered in Pride-themed playbills, framed by rainbow flags, and faced the historic Stonewall Inn. Playbill hosted seven Broadway casts in a free public Pride concert series, reaching 100+ New Yorkers and visitors per performance plus 10,000+ more via livestream. Stonewall's park rangers kept the SFH Piano open to the public whenever weather allowed, and they report offering emotional support for a steady stream of visitors. Throughout Pride Month, the Pride SFH Piano provided the setting and music for the wedding of two men who met in the Stonewall Riots 50 years before; it became a gathering place and stage for everyone from international LGBTQ+ community members making Stonewall pilgrimages to teenagers wearing rainbow flags.HOW THIS PROJECT EXEMPLIFIES ART/NON-ARTS PARTNERSHIP, MEANINGFUL IMPACT, AND INGENUITY
This project uniquely provided access to professional cultural experiences while simultaneously showcasing the public’s own art and identity. It used the arts to more deeply celebrate the meaning of a historical site associated with launching the Pride movement, reaching thousands in person and 100,000+ via livestreams. Breadth evidenced in these testimonials: “Today my friend and I sang spontaneously for Pride and shared the love, fight, and bold energy that Pride Month is all about.” — Chrissy, New Yorker. “I loved creating a piece of art meant for all New Yorkers and visitors to share and enjoy.” – Len Rodino, Playbill. “Our cast celebrates humanity, love, kindness, and pride in a city full of ‘come from aways’." — Josh Breckenridge, Come from Away. “What kind of LGBTQ ranger would go to Stonewall, be a storyteller, and not use a bit of their personal story?” — Jamie Adams, Stonewall Park Ranger & SFH Piano caretaker.THE “ARTS AND” PARTNERSHIP
The Sing for Hope team, including Camille Monica, Co-Founder; Monica Yunus, Co-Founder; Richard Robertson, Chief Operating Officer; and Lester Vrtiak, Director of the Sing for Hope Pianos; among others. Other integral organizations and members of this project were: Playbill: Len Rodino, Advertising Sales Assistant & Event Manager, Playbill; Eric Powers, Advertising Sales Assistant, Playbill; Felicia Fitzpatrick, Social Media Director, Playbill. Broadway: The casts of Come from Away, Pretty Woman, King Kong, The Lion King, Aladdin, Frozen, and Be More Chill. The National Park Service: The Stonewall Park Rangers, including Jamie Adams, Stonewall's first Park Ranger, Stonewall National Monument.
Sing for Hope coordinated the overall project (a specially curated "World Pride" component of the overall Sing for Hope Pianos installation), provided the physical piano and studio space for its artistic curation, and coordinated placement, events, and publicity with all involved parties. Playbill served as "Piano Artist" for the Sing for Hope Piano, submitting a design for the pride-themed artwork and physically bringing it to life in Sing for Hope's piano studio. Playbill also recruited the seven Broadway casts for the concert series and hosted the livestreams on Playbill's social media pages. The National Park Service coordinated the placement and daily maintenance/protection of the Sing for Hope Piano at the Stonewall National Monument. The park rangers also co-hosted concert series guests with the SIng for Hope and Playbill teams, in addition to greeting, educating, and supporting visitors all throughout Pride Month.
Straz Center's VetArtSpan
Veteran and civilian dancers selected from a series of workshops rehearsed a new piece with professional artists for six months before their combined performance with DIAVOLO at the Straz Center during the week of the Medal of Honor Convention in Tampa, FL. Photo provided by the Straz Center.
Straz Center's VetArtSpanPROJECT DESCRIPTION
Take the Department of Defense, Veterans Affairs, the National Endowment for the Arts, The James A. Haley Veterans’ Hospital and the Straz Center, add an epic effort in community engagement, and you get VetArtSpan. Throughout 2019, the Straz Center’s VetArtSpan Project built a unified community of support for veterans facing the challenges of returning to civilian life. Through the collaborative efforts of multiple medical, scientific and artistic partners, VetArtSpan became a holistic cultural bridge for the healing, wellness, and reintegration of veterans and their families. The VetArtSpan Project included an ongoing resource website featuring authentic storytelling through veteran-made videos, podcast conversations, and an interactive online art gallery. The site includes a military cultural competency curriculum and a growing directory of artistic outlets dedicated to serving veterans. The project also offered veteran/civilian dialogues; professionally produced, veteran-created performances; and a residency that sparked the creation of a new veteran/civilian dance ensemble.HOW THIS PROJECT EXEMPLIFIES ART/NON-ARTS PARTNERSHIP, MEANINGFUL IMPACT, AND INGENUITY
The relationships fostered by VetArtSpan have resulted in substantial expansion of Straz Center programs serving our military community. For instance, the first-ever combined James A. Haley and Bay Pines VA Hospital Veteran Arts Showcase has become an annual event hosted and professionally produced by the Straz Center. Also, a new Veteran/Civilian Dance Ensemble formed after the DIAVOLO residency at the Straz Center, when project participants requested our help to continue beyond the project’s end. Today, the Straz Center provides a weekly class and rehearsal space for the group, with multiple performance opportunities in our community. We also continue to work with the Inkwell Center to deliver more Veteran-Civilian Dialogue events and other vet-centered programming. We continue to deliver after-school arts learning at no cost to children of families living at MacDill Air Force Base. We continue to program main stage performances such as the U.S. Navy Commodore’s Band to celebrate our military community. By listening to veterans about what they need, and leveraging our community partnerships to achieve common goals, VetArtSpan made a lasting difference in the lives of transitioning veterans, their caregivers and families.THE “ARTS AND” PARTNERSHIP
VetArtSpan, a collaboration between the Straz Center and James A. Haley VA Hospital; Bay Pines VA Hospital; DIAVOLO | Architecture in Motion; ArtTHREAD; Dr. Susan Magsamen, International Arts + Mind Lab, Brain Science Institute, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine; The Inkwell Center; The James Museum of Western & Wildlife Art; The Military Resilience Foundation; The Morean Arts Center; The University of South Florida School of Dance.
The VA Hospitals helped the project to engage veterans and build trust. DIAVOLO provided an extended residency to create, rehearse and perform new movement arts piece with veteran-civilian group. ArtTHREAD helped with technical aspects of building the VetArtSpan website and specifically the online art gallery. USF Dance provided workshop space and dance students and professionals who participated in the DIAVOLO residency. The Military Resilience Foundation produced the Military Cultural Competency curriculum hosted on VetArtSpan website (vetartspan.org). Dr. Magsamen advised on measuring program component impact on veteran participants. The James Museum, Inkwell Center and Morean Arts Center hosted VetArtSpan activities such as veteran-civilian dialogues and podcast episodes where veterans were interviewed about their art-making experiences.
Station Hope 2019
Pictured: “A Somba Celebration” by Goree Drum & Dance, reflecting on day-to-day life in Senegal and remembering to be grateful for the good things in life.
Created & Directed by Balla & Ndeyekhady Sy, performed by Adrienne Collini, Adiah Shaw, Karah Adams, Balla Sy, Shamba Muhammed, Devin Shaw, Saniosa Twitty, Serrita Sy, Imani Williams, Nzeinga Head
St. John’s Episcopal Church
Saturday, May 4, 2019
Photo by Steve Wagner
Station Hope 2019PROJECT DESCRIPTION
On May 4, 2019, Cleveland Public Theatre presented the sixth annual Station Hope festival, a free one-night-only multi-arts festival featuring over 50 works by 250 artists from across Cleveland working across disciplines to reflect on our city’s history of the Underground Railroad and explore themes of social justice. The jubilant, immersive community event is staged in and around St. John’s Episcopal Church in Cleveland – a city known on the Underground Railroad as Station Hope. Audiences journey through the sanctuary, parish hall, basements, and surrounding streets to view an array of dance, theatre, storytelling, and music performances, as well as visual art displays. Station Hope has gained traction as a highly anticipated community event and has received local and national recognition as a successful model for innovative and meaningful community engagement. Our hope is that we can bolster more discussion across Northeast Ohio regarding issues of social justice and equality.HOW THIS PROJECT EXEMPLIFIES ART/NON-ARTS PARTNERSHIP, MEANINGFUL IMPACT, AND INGENUITY
Station Hope is designed to 1) raise awareness and understanding around past and contemporary issues of social justice; 2) share the enriching power of the arts with a broad cross-section of Cleveland; and 3) build community and civic pride across various neighborhoods in and around the city. Station Hope makes extraordinary art more accessible to new audiences, creates art-infused environments that serve as gathering points and community forums, and asserts the role of arts and culture as a necessary and indisputable force of civic life. This event is a unique opportunity for people to talk about issues of social justice while experiencing a variety of performances. Station Hope is extremely diverse – not just in the diversity of the artists involved or the types of performances, but in the different groups from our community who probably would not gather together otherwise. The people who come to Station Hope live in public housing, they are longtime residents of Cleveland, they are business investors and developers – all in one room, experiencing live performance together. At Station Hope, people end up in natural, friendly conversations with others they did not know before they walked in the door and witnessed a performance together.THE “ARTS AND” PARTNERSHIP
Cleveland Public Theater; the Episcopal Diocese of Ohio & The Institute at St. John’s; Ward 3 Councilman Kerry McCormack of Cleveland City Council; Ohio City Incorporated; Graham Veysey & Marika Shioiri-Clark; Restore Cleveland Hope, Inc. & the Cozad-Bates House; Global Cleveland… and over 50 participating arts groups and 250 individual artists from the Northeast Ohio region.
Over 2,000 people attended Station Hope 2019, in large part due to the collaborative efforts of our partners. These partnerships provided both financial and in-kind support and helped to promote the event across the Cleveland area.
Sebastian in San Antonio
The iconic "Torch of Friendship" sculpture in downtown San Antonio not only represents the long-lasting connection between the city and Mexico, but is also the catalyst for the city-wide partnership between the Department of Arts & Culture and 20+ arts and non-arts organizations to present the "Sebastian in San Antonio: 50+ Years / 20+ Sites / 100+ Works" exhibit.
Sebastian in San AntonioPROJECT DESCRIPTION
“Sebastian in San Antonio: 50+ Years / 20+ Sites / 100+ Works” is a monumental public art exhibit that connected San Antonio’s public and private sectors to bring art to all. The artist Sebastian created the celebrated and iconic permanent installation called the “Torch of Friendship,” which stands in downtown San Antonio and symbolizes the longstanding friendship and history between the city and Mexico. The artist and his works represent the confluence of cultures that occurs naturally between the two places.
20+ locations in each Council district, from healthcare facilities, universities and educational institutions to public parks, libraries and city-owned spaces, hosted the exhibit and its 100+ works. All exhibit locations, artist talks, catalogues, and events were free and open to the public – residents and visitors alike – embodying the mission of the City of San Antonio’s Department of Arts & Culture to inspire participation, inclusion and pride in all art.HOW THIS PROJECT EXEMPLIFIES ART/NON-ARTS PARTNERSHIP, MEANINGFUL IMPACT, AND INGENUITY
The “Sebastian in San Antonio” exhibit would not be possible without the partnership of arts and non-arts organizations. Each phase of the project involved substantial coordination and planning between the City of San Antonio’s Department of Arts & Culture and each of the exhibit's 20+ host locations and organizations. With works accessible free of charge in all parts of the city (in each City Council district), the exhibit celebrated the arts and its importance in all sectors of San Antonio as well as the city’s welcoming spirit through its strong connection with Mexico. The exhibit brought attention to San Antonio’s vibrant art scene and art’s ability to create connections between all walks of life through international media coverage and high attendance to the exhibit and corresponding events. Even more, the exhibit linked arts organizations, non-arts organizations, public and private sectors, residents and visitors in the celebration of art and culture. This exhibit built a foundation for continued collaboration of multiple sectors in the advocacy for the arts, demonstrating the strong and long-lasting desire San Antonio non-arts organizations have for being a partner in the promotion of the arts and creating discussions regarding future city-wide art initiatives.THE “ARTS AND” PARTNERSHIP
City of San Antonio Aviation Department, City of San Antonio Center City Development Office, City of San Antonio World Heritage Office, City of San Antonio Economic Development Department, City of San Antonio Public Library, The University of Texas at San Antonio Libraries Art Collection, UT Health San Antonio, Mexican Cultural Institute San Antonio, Texas A&M University San Antonio, University Health System, UTSA Institute of Texan Cultures, Avenida Guadalupe Association, The McNay Art Museum, Alamo Colleges, Consulado General de Mexico en San Antonio, Siempre Mexico, Fundacion Sebastian, UNAM San Antonio, Hemisfair, Visit San Antonio, San Antonio-Mexico Friendship Council, Holiday Inn Express & Suites, Delta and AeroMexico.
These organizations were heavily involved in the development, installation and promotion of the exhibit. Multiple coordination, installation and marketing meetings were held with these organizations and 100+ works were installed in 20+ locations across the City at locations owned by many of these organizations.