World Music/CRASHarts: #AES19 Partner Highlight

Written by World Music/CRASHarts

World Music/CRASHarts (WM/CA) is a nonprofit organization that presents diverse artistic experiences that inspire, entertain, challenge and transform. We provide a platform for established, emerging and under-represented global performing artists, fostering a diverse community committed to cultural equity and participation in greater Boston's arts arena.

For almost 30 years, WM/CA has used the power of the arts to provide a space for artistic dialogue and engagement. In the current political environment, we believe the need to create a common meeting ground for diverse audiences and artists to learn from each other, encourage cross-cultural collaborations, and share in the excitement of cultural discovery is increasingly important in a divided country and world. WM/CA strives to offer audiences an opportunity to share in many different artistic expressions and seeks to foster an atmosphere of cultural exploration and diversity that reflects today’s global community. 

 We are committed to creating an inclusive and supportive environment at our performances, in our offices, and in the community. We strive for everyone to feel welcome and valued regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, religion, sexual orientation, ability and disability, and age.

We understand that achieving equity is a continuous process and one we embrace as essential to our mission.

Organizational Values

The following organizational values will guide WM/CA’s future work:

  • We strive to present the highest quality performing arts and offer unique programming in greater Boston.

  •  We seek to build cultural bridges across diverse communities of artists and audiences.

  • We work to create global cultural awareness and understanding on a local level.

  • We facilitate inclusion by making outstanding art accessible—by breadth of venues, pricing of admission, and education programs.

  • We search for the new and unusual, providing a platform for our artists’ creative expression while challenging our audiences’ assumptions.

Intended Impact

WM/CA impacts the greater Boston community by creating (a) awareness and respect for different cultures through the performing arts, (b) inclusive and accessible cross-cultural experiences that encourage diverse audiences to come together as a cultural community, (c) opportunities for local immigrant communities to celebrate and share their cultural identities and heritage; and d) a platform for artists of different cultures to expand and share their newest work through presenting premieres, newly commissioned work, and innovative collaborations.

You can learn more about the work WM/CA is doing by visiting their website. You can also join us as we partner for the Arts Equity Summit by checking out our kick-off event on Friday, March 22nd!

Now + There: #AES19 Partner Highlight

Written by Now + There

Equality is at the core of Now + There’s (N+T) work. Now in our fifth year of producing engaging, thought-provoking public art, N+T centers not only artistic vision but connecting people, transforming spaces, and sparking conversation. Social justice is inherent in what we do.

So we couldn’t be more excited to join Arts Connect International (ACI) as a Community Partner for the upcoming Arts Equity Summit. ACI’s work connecting emerging artists, artists of color, and communities with arts institutions is crucial in developing an inclusive arts ecosystem in Boston.

Arts equity means investing in Boston-based artists and building neighborhood connections. Take, for example, N+T’s Public Art Accelerator program. The Accelerator guides Boston-area artists through a 6-month curriculum and funds their projects with grants up to $25,000. In 2018, seven Accelerator participants — including two black artists and one Latina artist —  produced six projects in neighborhoods spanning Dorchester to East Boston, with an emphasis on community partnership and engagement. In 2019, six more artists will create new, community-focused projects that engage with issues of justice, power, and equality.

Arts equity means prioritizing an intersectional approach to producing and creating public art. In 2017, our “Year of the Woman,” we paid over $37k to nine female artists, over half of whom were women of color, in conceptual design fees and project labor. In 2018, N+T partnered with 21 diverse community partners and invested $120,000 in neighborhoods not always served by public art through Accelerator funding, including Roxbury, East Boston, Jackson/Hyde Square, and Egleston Square. As we gear up for our 2019 season, we’re looking forward to forging even more connections throughout Boston,  including a recently-announced partnership with DS4SI for an upcoming artwork project in Upham’s Corner, Dorchester.

Perhaps most importantly, working towards equity means listening. To that end, we’re looking forward to our conversation on creating a more equitable climate for public art in Boston at AES19. Our Summit panel, “Loop-breaking: creating a virtuous cycle of public art production,” will consider the challenges of creating truly community-oriented artworks and discuss barriers to entry for public art artists and audiences alike.

We’re grateful to ACI for making this conference possible, and we look forward to gathering together with friends and partners, new and old. Thanks for having us, AES19!

You can learn more about the work N+T is doing by visiting their website. You can also join us as we partner for the Arts Equity Summit by checking out our kick-off event on Friday, March 22nd!



ARTE: #AES19 Partner Highlight

Written by Bella Mara DeVaan, Intern at Art and Resistance Through Education (ARTE) 

Since our first mural in the Bronx in 2011, ARTE has worked extensively with communities throughout New York City, providing quality interactive arts-based activities that educate young people about human rights in schools, community-based organizations, and jails.

The first facet of our mission is to educate youth on human rights and equip them with the knowledge to identify the root causes of systemic inequity. Realizing that there was a great disconnect between human rights theory and practice in our students’ day-to-day life, we initially developed to support their communities in realizing and advocating for their inherent human rights.

We’ve found that participants become more knowledgeable, interested, and passionate in human rights through the process of public art and particularly in the creation of a public mural. Public murals are a valuable component in our curricula and are designed to empower both students and their local communities to engage in questions surrounding human rights justice and art as a tool for social change--allowing them to reimagine justice actively in their own backyards.

ARTE’s first mural focused on the issue of human trafficking. Since then, community members have learned and painted about human rights violations both within the United States and internationally. Some of these issues have included harsh sentencing, poor prison conditions, child slavery, gender inequity, and police brutality. Inspiration has come from women activists and street artists of color.

Our artwork is motivated by history and is another reason we prioritize equity in our pedagogy. We’re currently fundraising to publish a redesigned edition of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It’s a graphic and contemporary reconception of our founding document, one which feels esoteric and out of reach after 70 years of existence. To reassert its relevance in the lives of our students, we believe releasing the document as an interactive and sleek convertible booklet and poster will bring the text’s mission into the modern day.

ARTE strives to offer a platform on which students can freely and safely express themselves and their opinions, all the while providing an arts education their schools and communities often aren’t able to offer. We equip youth with organizing skills that enable them to collectively activate others in steering society towards justice, using their lingua franca and multisensory modes of communication.

From comfort with identifying root causes of systemic inequity to feeling empowered to uproot them through the employment of creativity and galvanization of resources and communities, ARTE ultimately equips our students to cultivate equity in their own lives. The tenor and adaptability of our workshops, interdisciplinary curricula, and deep commitment to social justice are why we believe equity is at the basis of our work as a non-profit.

You can learn more about the work ARTE is doing by visiting their website. You can also join us as we partner for the Arts Equity Summit by checking out our kick-off event on Friday, March 22nd!

Pinkcomma: #AES19 Partner Highlight

Written by Shannon McLean

Pinkcomma Gallery opened at a time of shifting design sensibilities in Boston. While a significant amount of the city’s work is produced by the largest corporate firms, the gallery aims to foster and recognize a more creative and experimental scene that has grown out of one of the world’s most significant capitals of architectural education.

The gallery highlights innovative thinkers of diverse interests. This culture of experimentation and creativity is on the rise, yet continues to need independent venues to encourage its growth. Pinkcomma showcases an emerging generation of talented practitioners, offering them a platform while encouraging broader public support for their innovative sensibility.

At the same time, Pinkcomma is a place for the exchange and expansion of ideas within the region’s design scene, not just in terms of architecture, but also in the disciplines of landscape, graphics, urbanism, interiors, and industrial design. The gallery is a neutral ground that brings together thinkers from the six design schools and countless professional practices.

The effects have been significant. More than fifty exhibits and gatherings have occurred since opening. Just this year alone, the national Progressive Architecture Awards program includes three firms that had previously exhibited their work in solo shows at Pinkcomma. The gallery’s impact has been recognized by the Boston Society of Architects with the organization’s Commonwealth Award. In short, the gallery performs an important service to the design community: part launching platform, part mixing chamber, it is a place where new design ideas are formed, tested, challenged, and disseminated.

You can learn more about the work Pinkcomma is doing by visiting their website. You can also join us as we partner for the Arts Equity Summit by checking out our kick-off event on Friday, March 22nd!

Dunamis: #AES19 Partner Highlight

Written by Dunamis

Dunamis believes that the lack of comprehensive education is one of the greatest barriers to equity. Therefore, our organization works to provide emerging artists and arts-managers with the tools they need to build successful and long-lasting careers in the arts. Through workshops and individual consultations with our artists, we help them understand their unique identities, provide them with professional development training and support in producing their work.

With our Arts Managers we actively work to build a pipeline of diverse arts leaders that challenge the status quo and support work that is reflective of the communities they serve.


You can learn more about the work Dunamis is doing by visiting their website. You can also join us as we partner for the Arts Equity Summit by checking out our kick-off event on Friday, March 22nd!

Berklee Institute for Arts Education and Special Needs: #AES19 Partner Highlight

Written by Rhoda Bernard

The Berklee Institute for Arts Education and Special Needs (BIAESN)is a catalyst for the inclusion of individuals with special needs in all aspects of performing and visual arts education. Our mission at BIAESN is threefold. First, we provide arts education programs, including private music lessons, music classes, ensembles, two adaptive dance programs, and a theatre program, all specifically for students with disabilities, ages 3 to 93. These programs provide a safe and nurturing environment that meets the individual needs of our students, providing opportunities for them to express themselves through the arts, and challenging them to become the best artists that they can be. Second, we are home to the only Masters in Music Education with a Concentration in Autism graduate program in the world. This program, offered through the Boston Conservatory at Berklee, seeks to prepare the next generation of music educators to work with students with autism and other special needs. Finally, BIAESN provides Professional Development opportunities for arts educators currently in the field who wish to broaden their skill set and provide a more equitable arts education experience for their students with disabilities.

Through these three initiatives, BIAESN is changing the landscape for students with disabilities both by providing opportunities right here at Berklee, and by helping to train current and future teachers near and far to provide better arts education opportunities for all their students.

You can learn more about the work BIAES is doing by visiting their website. You can also join us as we partner for the Arts Equity Summit by checking out our kick-off event on Friday, March 22nd!


HowlRound: #AES19 Partner Highlight



Written by: HowlRound Theatre Commons

HowlRound is a free and open platform for theatremakers worldwide that amplifies progressive, disruptive ideas about the art form and facilitates connection between diverse practitioners. HowlRound’s creation was a direct response to: 1) research that suggested artists were increasingly distant from the center of theatremaking within not-for-profit institutional infrastructure, and 2) the new possibilities created by technology to influence theatre practice. Our founding came at a time when we saw too many voices left off our stages, not represented inside of our institutions, and not recognized for their substantial contribution to our past and present. We set about to create a group of tools that would amplify voices and issues chronically underrepresented and unheard in the theatre.

We found an organizing principle in the “commons”—a social structure that invites open participation around shared values. HowlRound is a knowledge commons that encourages freely sharing intellectual and artistic resources and expertise. It is our strong belief that the power of live theatre connects us across difference, puts us in proximity of one another, and strengthens our tether to our commonalities.

We value generosity and abundance—all are welcome and necessary; community and collaboration over isolation and competition; diverse aesthetics and the evolution of forms of theatre practice; equity, inclusivity, and accessibility for underrepresented theatre communities and practices; and global citizenship—local communities intersecting with global practice.

You can learn more about the work HowlRound is doing by visiting their website. You can also join us as we partner for the Arts Equity Summit by checking out our kick-off event on Friday, March 22nd!

Brain Arts Organization: #AES19 Partner Highlight

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Written by Emma Leavitt

Brain Arts Organization works to address equity and inclusion by creating platforms for emerging, underrepresented, and independent artists. Since 2009, Brain Arts Organization has been paying artists above all operating and production costs. We believe that artists need support wherever they can find it- even from volunteers who are artists themselves. With the cost of living in the Greater Boston Area always increasing, we believe that it is imperative to support artists actively working in the city. Artists that do not come from wealthy or historically well-supported backgrounds are often at a disadvantage because of these rising living costs.

Through our programs, we work to provide opportunities to all working artists, so that the cultural identity of the city and region can reflect its diverse makeup. We also believe that when artists are provided opportunities to develop their practice, they have the ability to meaningfully impact and better their communities.

At our community-driven art space in Dorchester, we prioritize providing space either for free or at affordable rates to artists from the Dorchester and surrounding neighborhoods. We meet emerging artists at their level and facilitate and assist them so that they can be empowered to create and inspire their communities. We specifically work to connect artists and other community organizations in order to find opportunities for everyone working within this sphere to further their own goals.

Beyond the activities at the art space, our programs and media address the imperative of equity head-on. Since its establishment, our organization has worked to curate a wide audience of patrons who support emerging and underrepresented artists. These artists are prioritized when booking events and always paid for their performances. Our free newspaper, published monthly, provides an access point to the arts for the often forgotten offline demographic, and our website acts as an online alternative to mainstream or social media controlled outlets. Together, these publications serve as a platform to promote the artists featured, as well as a stepping stone for the volunteer staff of writers, administrators, artists, and photographers who run them. Finally, every other month, we host an art market where vendors participate at a low cost and sell their work to the community. Fundamentally, these programs exist to help develop talent and ensure that underrepresented artists continue to develop the cultural identity of the city and region.

Our organization has been built organically by volunteers who have the capacity and drive to advocate and produce platforms for the arts in the Greater Boston Area. Our volunteers utilize the free time and privilege they have to work towards the greater goal of arts and community building. These volunteers are able to empower others within their own communities, in contributing to the promotion and production of art and other creative endeavors, and also in considering how these values overlap with civic participation.

You can learn more about the work Brain Arts Project is doing by visiting their website. You can also join us as we partner for the Arts Equity Summit by checking out our kick-off event on Friday, March 22nd!

Are YOU seeing the Color Purple? (hint: you should be)

By: Michelle Song, ACI Intern

Source: The BOCH Center website 

Source: The BOCH Center website 

How does someone convene diverse groups of people together in the same space to see a performance that is significantly culturally loaded, and therefore marginalized? This is the leading question that brought twenty arts non-profit professionals together for a roundtable discussion at the historical Boch center in downtown Boston.

Organized by the outreach staff at the Boch center, their intention is to diversify Boch theatre’s audiences, and to pack the house, particularly in time for The Color Purple, a Broadway adaptation of Alice Walker’s extraordinary novel with an all African American cast. The Color Purple was the first book by a black female writer to win the Pulitzer prize and National Book Awards in 1983. The musical adaptation of this literary touchstone is another reminder of the troubled racial history of America, as well as an homage to the resilient black women in the face of struggle throughout this history. For these reasons, the musical bears profound significance from script to stage.

The round table held by the Boch center was set up on the main stage inside the theatre. Bright, dazzling lights casted upon the beautiful grand stage indicated to me that I was among some brilliant minds and important decision makers of Boston’s non-profit community. My initial intimidation was infused with admiration. Smiling with nervousness, I shook the hands of other attendees as I introduced myself alongside my boss, the founder of Arts Connect International, Marian Brown.

Being a complete newcomer to the non-profit world, I observed with curiosity the skillful and confident networking that unfolded around me, a scene that reminded me of the importance of mutual support in the non-profit community. A few minutes later, we settled in our seats, our faces beaming with the contentment of new friendships. Boch Center’s president Josiah (Joe) Spaulding initiated a round of formal self introductions. I held my breath until it was my turn, and stumbled through my short speech with a tremble in my voice. With slight embarrassment I silently noted to myself that I had a long way to go in carrying a smooth networking conversation.

Following the introductions, Mr. Spaulding showed us an incredibly moving preview of The Color Purple. Even from the sneakpeek, I was incredibly moved by the musical’s emotional intensity. There was no doubt in my mind that this was a musical that can profoundly empower both its cast and crew, and the audiences. Mr. Spaulding shared his personal memories from over a decade ago, when The Color Purple first premiered at the theatre.

He reflected that in 2006, The Color Purple was shown alongside Jersey Boys, and it was no surprise that the audience demographics of the two shows were visibly divided: the audiences for The Color Purple was mostly black, while white audiences flocked to see Jersey Boys. This anecdote illuminated the primary objective of the round table convening, namely, how can the Boch Center be more engaging with its future programs, and specifically with The Color Purple.

One of the stakeholders present began by asking a “clarifying question” that catalyzed the momentum of the discussion: “Who exactly are we talking about when we are talking about making an institution more “engaging”?” Her question was received by a chain of nodding. We all understood the more explicit underlying questions--who is not coming to see the show? Which demographic groups are excluded?

One of the participants, who works both at a university’s student center, and as pastor at a historically black church, shared his experiences of using different approaches to attract two different demographic groups -- college students and church members. As a recent college graduate myself, I resonated with all the barriers that discourage college students from entering the theaters: we depend almost entirely on social media for information, and we’re almost always broke. Just last week, my roommate, a true theatre enthusiast, was complaining to me about the impossible ticket prices that forced her to choose between two of her favorite shows.

As the topics of affordability and social media marketing progressed, the discussion arrived at a collective agreement that The Color Purple was undeniably a difficult show to market. One of the participant laid bare the fundamental issues when it comes to marketing a show like The Color Purple. “The problem” she stated, “is not how we can get more people to see the show, since the show is already well-received among the African American audiences. The problem is how can we bring the white people to come see this show.”

This participant who so unapologetically hit the nail in the head was, in my opinion, the most articulate and impactful participant of the day. With infectious enthusiasm, she proposed that the Boch Centre shifts its marketing narrative to confront the difficult subject matter head-on, especially given its pertinence to the current political climate. Her speech not only laid bare the bigger political impact of the revolutionary show, but also enlightened the real power of theatre as an art form.

She remarked that theatre is not a place of opulence and good-manners, but instead, it’s about bringing people from different backgrounds to sit next to one another. While this task is ambitious, we could all agree that to realize it requires a total paradigm shift that demands more from big institutions like the Boch Center. To start with, the marketing department at the Boch Center should take a firm stance on the progressive message they wish to promote through the show. It shouldn’t hesitate to communicate explicit messages such as: “Dear white audiences: by coming to see the show, you are creating changes.”

With gratitude and hopeful visions for the future, the round table discussion concluded, and so did my first public event with ACI. As an intern who’s new to the nonprofit sector, it was an eye-opening experience. I was impressed and slightly surprised with the degree of openness of each participant, despite the formality and seriousness of the setting. Although many of them didn’t know each other well, they didn’t shy away from offering constructive criticisms and speaking out about what they found problematic.

As we exited the theatre hall, Marian and I talked about other lingering questions that continued to unsettle us-- questions that perhaps couldn’t be answered at the discussion, within the confines of the opulent theatre. We discussed that while it was important for large institutions like the Boch to enhance diversity and audience engagement agendas, what’s equally important is the reallocation of resources to smaller institutions whose works empower underrepresented demographic groups, which is currently almost non-existent in the Boston arts funding landscape.

Personally, I was left contemplating some questions that I still couldn’t find the answers for, like: Even if theatre becomes significantly more affordable for millennials and students like myself, will it make its way among our entertainment of choice? In other words, thinking about theatre as a cultural construction: what is the extent of its capacity to engage audiences, especially considering the fact that audience behaviors are already coded by their cultural conditioning?

Furthermore, how does theatre’s physical construction act as a mechanism that defines, or, in certain cases, confines the art form? Although I don’t have answers to these questions yet, I believe that while institutions like the Boch Center focuses on issues of representation within the theatre, it is perhaps also important to look beyond the walls of grandiose performance halls.

There are actions that can be taken by art institutions and audiences alike in support of other community rooted art forms might be equally, if not more effective in congregating different communities, bodies and ideas.

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As an intern, Michell supports ACI's grant writing and communications. A recent graduate from Mount Holyoke in Critical Social Thought and Economics, Michelle is passionate about contemporary art and curating. She seeks to learn best practices for curation as a way to catalyze dialogue and knowledge production, with a focus on social justice. 

Reach Michelle via: michelle@artsconnectinternational.org

Breaking Silence Silently

Breaking Silence Silently

Artist Leader Hyppolite provides an account of the power of theater in dealing with trauma. He emphasizes that when participating in the arts, one needn't directly talk about a traumatic experience in order to come to terms with it.