Spring Update!

Dear Friends,
This winter/spring we have been immersed in our leadership search (stay tuned!), as well as a research initiative that will inform a relaunch of ABOG’s support program(s) for artists. In collaboration with our research partners at The Center for Artistic Activism, we are exploring potential models for artist-led organizations; assessing the current needs and desires of socially engaged artists; and determining the best practices for supporting socially engaged artists in alignment with the field at large. We are grateful to the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Charles E. Culpeper Arts and Culture Program of the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, and our co-founder and former Board Chair Shelley Frost Rubin for supporting this initiative!
As part of this research we are hosting a series of in-person and virtual facilitated convenings to explore: ​​What issues are crucial for socially engaged art today? What do socially engaged artists need in the next ten years to grow their socially engaged practices and why? What futures are socially engaged artists building toward through their practices?
We are so very grateful to all the artists, practitioners, and community leaders that joined us for the first two facilitated convenings in San Francisco and New Orleans this spring! We were so nourished by the insightful conversation and engaged participation.
We are committed to sharing what we learn along the way and have gathered a few insights from the first in-person facilitated conversations.
So far we’ve heard:
  • The need for flexible and long-term funding. A general concern for the socio-economic situation faced by artists today has only worsened by the protracted effects of the pandemic and the eroded social services, safety nets, and general well-being.
  • There is a need for advocacy from an organization like ABOG that can make public institutions, philanthropy, and other institutions more aware of the role and value of socially engaged art in society. This advocacy must also highlight how socially engaged art fosters processes of radical imagination that are necessary to bring about sustainable and systemic change.
  • There is a desire for an organization like ABOG to facilitate connections across sectors (education, health, environment, etc.), which could open new opportunities for socially engaged artists to contribute to other programs and projects that are not centered in the art world.
  • There is a great need to share collective, in-person space and maintain shared conversations across time, especially after being isolated over the last few years due to the pandemic. There is value in ABOG’s role as a convener and facilitator of open dialogues.
We know there’s so much more to learn, and we will keep you updated as we continue with our research process. We also plan to share the opportunities and challenges we uncover in our Fall ABOG magazine. Sharing out our process and results is a reaffirmation of our commitment to transparency and accountability, and our belief that socially engaged art should be “open-sourced” in the interest of equity. As always, we want to hear your thoughts! Do not hesitate to reach out with questions or responses, email us at info@abladeofgrass.org.

With gratitude,

ashley, Brett, Diya, Gregory, Michael P. and Michael Q.
Board of Directors

Photos from our in-person facilitated convenings held this spring at Catapult (New Orleans) and Yerba Buena Center for the Arts (San Francisco).





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