Today marks the launch of ARTISTS AT WORK (AAW) — a program that pairs artists with cultural hubs and community partners. I am thrilled to be an Artist-in-Residence at Hancock Shaker Village (Pittsfield, MA) partnering with Camphill Village (Copake, NY). AAW is organized by THE OFFICE Performing Arts + Film and FreshGrass Foundation.
Inspired by the Depression-era Works Progress Administration, ARTISTS AT WORK (AAW) is a new program designed to give artists resources to continue to produce work during the immediate health and economic crisis brought by COVID, and to build new structures and partnerships that will help to sustain the creative sector in a post-pandemic America. Conceived in collaboration with the FreshGrass Foundation as a public/private partnership that combines government, corporate, and foundation support, AAW is a WPA for the arts reimagined into a modern context that is sensitive to the 21st century landscape (now drastically changed) of every artistic discipline’s place in the culture.
Artists At Work’s goals are to give a significant number of artists a living wage to continue to make work, to activate cultural institutions in support of that work, to put that work into the public sphere for free to audiences (and in doing so to boost local economies), and to connect artists and cultural organizations to local initiatives in areas like youth mental health, suicide prevention, food justice, prison reform, youth at risk, and campaigns for COVID awareness in communities of color, and other civic engagements with the aim of fostering healthy communities. AAW provides a dynamic and flexible structure for funding to flow into the cultural sector with substantive, immediate, and tangible impacts for individual artists, institutions, and the general public—outcomes that will help art and artists to survive, and also embed the arts more deeply into communities to the benefit of society as a whole.
Within Western, MA there are a total of six hubs– Hancock Shaker Village, Images Cinema with artist Joe Aidonidis partnering with GAAMHA, Institute for the Musical Arts with Naia Kete partnering with The Alianza Project, Jacob’s Pillow with Dante Brown partnering with Roots Rising, MASS MoCA with artist Sarah DeFusco and partnering with nbCC/Uno Community Center and The Mount with artist Lia Russell-Self partnering with The Rusty Anvil.
For more information, visit artists-at-work.org.