Earlier this month I attended a conference with 250 other arts organizations, the New England Foundation for the Arts Creative Communities Exchange, or NEFA CCX. Here’s one highlight for me:
Jane Chu, the new director of the National Endowment for the Arts, NEA, spoke on the last day. She said we’re all doing amazing work in our communities, but we still need to tell our stories louder and more often.
In response to a question, she shared her own story: Her parents each narrowly escaped China in the 1950’s, and met and married here. She grew up in Arkansas, where her father was an economics professor. She began studying the piano early, but she was not passionate about it. Her father died when she was 9, and she had no way to express her grief except through her music; playing the piano soon became her lifelong focus. She said it really saved her.
Here’s just a few WA stories that come to mind:
- 5th-grader Joseph came to our clay class recommended by his teachers, who couldn’t figure out how to help him engage in school. By the end of the year, they’d witnessed a transformation: because he was able to work with his hands, he learned how to focus and stay focused.
- Belinda, who recently retired and now spends as much time as she can in our building, either receiving private instruction from an artist in her studio or in our print studio.
- Abe, the young travelling artist and photographer, excited to hang his work in a gallery for the first time, and the show was favorably reviewed in the press.
- Lou the photographer, now deceased, who finally got the professional exhibition and renewed interest he deserved.
If you have ever come through our doors, we’d love to know your story. What does art do for you?
Martha Piscuskas and Jane Chu
You can view the NEFA June newsletters HERE.