A Blade of Grass nurtures
socially engaged art

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Our Mission

We provide resources to artists who demonstrate artistic excellence and serve as innovative conduits for social change. We evaluate the quality of work in this evolving field by fostering an inclusive, practical discourse about the aesthetics, function, ethics and meaning of socially engaged art that resonates within and outside the contemporary art dialogue.

People

Board of Directors

Brett Cook

Michael Premo

Michael Quattrone

Gregory Sale

ashley sparks

Diya Vij

Staff

Suzy Delvalle

Ixtzel Reynoso

History


A Blade of Grass was founded by Shelley Frost Rubin and Deborah Fisher in 2011 to support, build audience, and deepen understanding for socially engaged artists who are enacting social change within a community by sharing the creative process. Our organization grew out of an ongoing dialogue about the deep importance of art to civic life, and the idea that creativity and art can be a shared resource that concretely and positively changes lives.

In our first year, we established an advisory committee of thought leaders at the intersection of art and social change, surveyed almost a thousand artists about how to best support their work, and worked iteratively through organizational grants and an experimental grant to individual artists to further discern our stake in socially engaged art. The A Blade of Grass Fellowship for Socially Engaged Art was established as a result of this research and experimentation in 2013, and 2013-2020 offered a high-profile, nationally recognized opportunity that quickly became a key career milestone for US-based socially engaged artists working worldwide. The Fellowship in its original form has supported 57 artists and collectives, and generated a large volume of research, print and media content, short films, and engaging programs that share the intimate, process and relationship driven nature of socially engaged art.

While the Fellowship program was temporarily sunset in response to the covid pandemic, we shifted in 2021 to the production of a small number of online programs and artists’ projects that meaningfully responded to the constraints and political pressures of the moment. In 2022, we pivoted to a substantial restructuring that enables both of our founders to pass on the leadership of the organization to our next generation of leaders, and puts the leadership of the organization into the hands of artists, arts workers, and other key stakeholders with a significant stake in socially engaged art.

This restructuring process is ongoing—thank you for your patience as we ensure our continued sustainability and alignment with our values. We are grateful for the trust of our community and the relationships we sustained that make this restructuring process possible, and look forward to a bright future in which we continue to serve artists who are working accountably in communities at an ambitious scale to enact social change.

Governance


Our board is comprised of artists, arts workers, and others with a particularly deep stake in socially engaged art as well as the practical skill and experience sets necessary for the effective stewardship of an arts nonprofit, including finance, community organizing, group facilitation, arts administration, development, and previous board membership.

Each board member is compensated a $15,000 annual honorarium for their service. This compensation was determined by an independent compensation consultant. It recognizes that our board members are experts in our mission and bring useful skills to its oversight. And it recognizes the substantial amount of time board membership requires and the opportunity costs board members incur.

We believe that paying a professional board increases the accountability and proximity of that board to the communities it serves; enables higher quality leadership from the board; and enables a far more diverse group of people to serve.

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Partnering With Artists

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A Blade of Grass Magazine

Published biannually, A Blade of Grass Magazine investigates artists, writers, and activists working at the intersection of art and global social justice. Read, share, and download your free digital copy.

View Past Issues

Explore

Municipal-Artist Partnerships Guide

A “relationship guide” to forging strong and sustainable creative partnerships between local governments and artists. Created by A Blade of Grass and Animating Democracy, a program of American's for the Arts.

Explore the Guide

Watch

Short Documentary Films

Our short documentary films explore our Fellows working in the field and the beauty, rigor, and impact of socially engaged art. Produced by the award-winning Rava Films.

Watch Our Films

Featured Film


Listening for the Future of Appalachia

Musician and A Blade of Grass Fellow Brian Harnetty brings together Appalachian Ohioans across the political spectrum to build community in resistance to the environmental extraction that has historically harmed the region.