Arts, Insight, and Community Building
During the year 2020 the Gloucester Cultural Initiative began producing a series of Forums with local artists discussing how the arts can awaken, inform, and inspire our community to address existential societal concerns. These programs were originally envisioned for live audiences but have been carried out as webinars during times of limited public gatherings.
Artists have always been at the forefront of seeing the beauty, but also the underlying tensions and struggles, in nature and humanity. Once again the planet is facing profound threats and instability, this time from climate change and pollution, an economy that has generated vast inequalities, and with democratic institutions under siege. In coming years, Gloucester will be a frontline community for these great challenges. What role can the arts, including public art, play in informing and inspiring action, reaching hearts and minds, and building a shared commitment to enacting difficult change?
Arts and Climate Change
With our co-sponsor the Sawyer Free Library, GCI presented “Arts and Climate Change” on May 1 as the first in the series of forums. Meri Jenkins, who developed and supervised the Creative Economy Initiatives for the Massachusetts Cultural Council, served as the moderator. Her knowledge base extends beyond Massachusetts to national and global trends of community cultural development and planning. The two featured speakers were artists Susan Quateman and Leslie Bartlett, who have combined silk painting with photography in their working collaborations with environmental entities, that are focused on the climate crisis facing coastal New England. Approximately 80 people attended this online event and engaged in robust audience participation. The recording of the program has been distilled into a YouTube video by Lisa Smith of Cable TV 1623 Studios. Cape Ann Climate Coalition served as an important resource in the production.
Arts, Housing and Community
The second in our forum series, held on ZOOM March 30, 2021, focused on Gloucester’s escalating housing costs and the stories artists have to tell about the impact of development trends on our community. Moderator Greg Cook is the creator of the Wonderland arts blog and publicist for the Cambridge Arts Council. Panelists include Yinette Guzman, a public arts advocate from the Punto Urban Art Museum in Salem; Gloucester poet Linda McCarriston; working waterfront advocate and artist Ann Molloy, manager of the Neptune’s Harvest Fish Fertilizer company, a division of Ocean Crest Seafoods; and playwright Ken Riaf, a local lawyer and former staff attorney at Action, Inc.
The recording of the panel discussion and dialogue with the audience was recorded as a You Tube video by Lisa Smith.
This program was made possible with the generous support of the Gloucester Cultural Council,
a program of the Massachusetts Cultural Council (MCC).
Arts and Diversity
A third Forum will explore the need for a more beneficial and direct relationship among diversity, artistic expression, and social enrichment and that will examine, in part, how our artists can call attention to racism and ways to overcome it. This forum will be scheduled in the fall of 2021.