The Best Version of Myself: An Interview with Shanina Dionna, Founder of Embryo

Artistic Rebuttal: Artists talk a lot about self-care in terms of balancing time, clients, work vs. life, how to stay organized yet stay inspired and avoid burnout. For you, it seems as if making art IS your self care. Can you talk about how art has/continues to allow you to be the best version of yourself?

Shanina Dionna: I've discovered an opportunity to exert any kind of energy into the work. For years, I'd self-inflict a great deal of mental & physical pain and discord. Now, it seems I've a healthier alternative. Abuse the canvas instead. Love the canvas instead. Radical torment, or even genuine intimacy; it can all happen right there on the canvas. No harm done to my physical self. Just leave it all there. Just as one would their burdens at an altar. The result? Exploring what more I'm made of and am capable of doing/being in this lifetime. The works have helped me give my own life a fighting chance. If we're going to talk about the "best version of myself" -- Patience. Effective communication. Child-like curiosity. Wonder. Commitment. Courage. Loyalty. A sense of purity. Bravery. True love. Self love. I possess these things now. Me. For too long I'd no idea. The gift of artistry has done that for me. I thank God for that. And now my students - our generations emerging hereafter - I can pay it forward what's helped me in hopes to cultivate positive change in their communities. Legacy building. The pursuit alone has been the most rewarding experience of my life.

 

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AR:  How did you come to start making art - I'm guessing you discovered your talent later in life, or at least started using your art as therapy later in life? 

SD: I've always been attracted to the Visual & Performing arts. It was always my strongest sense of self expression. I wrote and illustrated my first short story when I was 9yrs old. It was received so well that it became an example for the 3rd grade classrooms nearby. I remember 5th grade teaching me more solid creative techniques. I learned what "blind contour" was. It changed my life. Art was so much more than what met my adolescent eye. And I wanted it. Dance and Drill (or Step Team) became a strong suit of mine at about 11yrs old. Throughout my grade school and high school career, I always excelled and in the written, visual and performing arts. Those were the classes that helped make my report card worth looking at. Over the years, art became a need. It gave me something to be proud of when I was young. So naturally, yearning for a sense of purpose, I took what I know and used it.

 

AR: How do you define art therapy? 

SD: Freedom. No fluff. The root's truth. A healthy escape. Safe haven. Absence of judgement. Mental, physical, spiritual healing. Confrontation begets an underlying intellect and a true sense of self. -- These are just some of the things that come to mind when I think of art therapy.

 

AR: Can you talk about your experiences in the hospital in terms of mental illness on paper vs. in real life? Were there other artists in the hospital with you? 

SD: No one knew I was an Artist until nearing my last day there. A couple of the workers who chaperoned us would express that they didn't think I belonged there. I was 302'd due to no more beds available in 201. The psych ward department terrified me. I didn't believe I belonged there...but I needed to be there. It helped me humanize what it truly meant to have a "mental illness." On paper, we all look flat out crazy. Some of us may've even looked the part. 

Being at the Belmont Behavioral Hospital helped me see past any pre-judgment I may've walked in with. I interacted and even connected with individuals I would not have otherwise typically engaged with out in the real world. The kind of people I'd generally steer clear of were now my peers, my friends, kindred spirits. Old, young, black, white, hispanic - we were all in there together. With something to prove and even more to gain & give back to this world. 

It's interesting now, you know? How looking at someone, you just never know who they really are. From a homeless man on the street to a blue collar brotha making it big in Center City. It trips me out. Upon my release from Belmont, I got on the bus and commuted to my next destination like it was just another normal day. Looking at me, no one knew what I'd just been through. They didn't see me. And that's ok, because I saw them. With new eyes, I saw these people. And I prayed more and I paid attention more and I respected them just a little bit more in secret. Because truly, you just never know. There was a poster at the hospital that read something along the lines of "Which one suffers from Major Depression?" Everyone smiling, there was an athlete. Old, white people. Young people. Black, hispanic. A construction worker...the answer was, "All of them." 

Blew me away. I'll never forget it.

 

AR: Does your art making make you feel unburdened or do you continually make art to continually combat negativity? 

SD: Art is my beautiful struggle. It's a loaded responsibility I've put on myself to use art the way I do. To effectively communicate the importance of Mental Health Awareness and encouraging folks to expose their innermost truths in hopes of experiencing a sense of freedom - a more transcendent resolve concerning ourselves - is incredibly overwhelming. It's been a step by step, day by day challenge to maintain a sharp focus on this work.

Do I feel unburdened? Not necessarily. I almost embrace the burdens that come because then there'd be more work to be done. And I'm ok with that. Purpose, remember? I've found it now. I make art to continually prove that I am [we are] more than our insecurities, our faults, our flaws, our mistakes and mishaps. I don't have to play victim with my art. I can be the victor. Do you know how empowering that feels? Through these works I can prevail over suicidal fantasies, borderline personality disorder and major depression. 

The purpose of my works will always be to help inform, inspire and encourage. Not only myself, but our communities at large.

 

AR: Describe Embryo and why you founded it.

SD: "My baby," is what I call it. Initially, Embryo was just a taste-and-see experiment. Attending the Illinois Institute of Art - Chicago, I knew that I wanted to move back to Pennsylvania to present the first birthing in Philadelphia. Chicago gave me my first opportunity to reveal my flaws and be flat-footed about it. "Flaws & All" was a black & white photography series that exhibited my deepest, physical insecurities. My hanging breasts, my feet, the thick hair under my arms. My feet. -- I made those features mean something different when I made them art. The project was received so well that it landed my first big commission. SOMEONE WANTED MY FLAWS! Someone was inspired by flaws. My flaws mattered and they were common among the crowd and they were real and loved and......brought to tears with immense joy and gratitude and a sense of pride, I had to explore this further. Hence, "Embryo - birthing that which forms in my creative womb." 

March 2016 marked it's fifth consecutive annual birthing. Over the years, Embryo has helped to expose so many layers of the world around me and the people in it. It's encouraged a full-figured woman confront her insecurities. A stubborn, paraplegic man pursue to become a better person. An upcoming indie rap artist to grab his craft by the horns and give his gift everything he's got. 

It's been about so much more than "woe, it's me." Woe, it's all of us! But i thank God for hope. I am so thankful for what Embryo has contributed to my life. 

 

AR: In what ways does Embryo reach out to other people that are feeling the way you felt before finding your artistic outlet? 

SD: I'm always in awe of who Embryo touches. I've received emails and social media messages from people all over sharing their gratitude for my stepping up and speaking out. 

They are the reason I know I'm brave. They are the reason I know I'm courageous. They are the reason I know there's value in vulnerability. They are the reason I know I possess a certain degree of strength because that's what they see through these exhibitions. Which have in turn, helped them tap into what human super power (if you will) they didn't already know they had. 

Embryo became a great deal more than I could have ever expected it to be for both myself and the world around me. This is my positive contribution to life as we know it. We're getting somewhere, right? Right. Let's keep going. 

Amy ScheideggerComment
Intention and Ethics in Art Making: An Interview with Photojournalist Justin Cook

Photojournalist, Justin Cook, has been exploring homicide, incarceration and urban renewal in Durham, North Carolina for over a decade.

Joslin Simms poses with politicians and gun-control advocates after speaking at a Mayors Against Illegal Guns rally in Chapel Hill in 2014. Increasingly isolated by depression and grief, Joslin found companionship and community in organizations like Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense. She and other mothers who have lost their children to violence don’t want them to have died in vain, so they have organized with the hope of influencing national and local gun, education and anti-poverty policies. Photo by Justin Cook.

Joslin Simms poses with politicians and gun-control advocates after speaking at a Mayors Against Illegal Guns rally in Chapel Hill in 2014. Increasingly isolated by depression and grief, Joslin found companionship and community in organizations like Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense. She and other mothers who have lost their children to violence don’t want them to have died in vain, so they have organized with the hope of influencing national and local gun, education and anti-poverty policies. Photo by Justin Cook.

Artistic Rebuttal Project: Do you consider yourself an artist?

Justin Cook: I guess so, haha. Labels are interesting to me, and I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately...Some have even called me an activist since my work has a point of view. My background is journalism, but I’m a storyteller that uses multiple mediums to tell those stories. If the journalism world, the documentary world and activist world all want to claim me, that’s great. I love that my work speaks and appeals to so many. I’m a visual storyteller at heart, so I guess that does make me an artist.

ARP: What are some industry and/or self-assigned protocols you employ to stay objective?

JC: I’m making art that has a very specific set of ethics around it, but I don’t believe in objectivity as the ultimate measure of good storytelling. It’s one tool in a vast toolkit to tell stories. Trying to tell all sides of a story to create one perfect package is exhausting and actually impossible. Some stories don’t have more than one side. Better measures of a story are: “is it fair? is it honest? How does everything connect to a greater understanding?”

ARP: Are there instances where you give yourself license to get subjective with the people you photograph?

JC: Yeah, of course. Deeper relationships happen naturally and over time. Finding trust, maintaining transparency and building that real relationship are the first priorities, then the work grows from that. I will always cherish my relationship with Joslin, who I’ve been photographing for a decade after her son was murdered. The mutual support we give to each other is better than any Pulitzer.

“I just want to go dig up his body so I can touch his face one more time,” says Joslin at her son’s grave in Beechwood Cemetery, in 2007. Her imagination leaves her restless. She sees Ray’s face on the young men walking down her street; “Ray! Ray!” she calls out to them, but when she blinks, their features morph, and suddenly they aren’t him. Photo by Justin Cook.

“I just want to go dig up his body so I can touch his face one more time,” says Joslin at her son’s grave in Beechwood Cemetery, in 2007. Her imagination leaves her restless. She sees Ray’s face on the young men walking down her street; “Ray! Ray!” she calls out to them, but when she blinks, their features morph, and suddenly they aren’t him. Photo by Justin Cook.

ARP: As an artist, are there any key “do’s and don’ts” of which photographs you’ll present to the public and the ones you don’t, in terms of highlighting your subjects as opposed to exploiting them?

JC: I think I have to walk that fine line between photos that show the of the stories I tell and the ones that only provide a voyeuristic view - images of violence for shock value, for example. There’s a small sign I have on my bedroom wall that I look at every day that guides my work. There are few points that seem relevant to this question:

  • “Give thought to whether your pictures advance understanding or confirm stereotypes.”

  • “Allow for the privacy of others.”

  • “Fight for issues in the context of the benefit of the community, the newspaper, and your subjects.”

  • “Caution the vulnerable on what their participation in a photo might mean.”

  • “Check biases or preconceptions when listening to someone or covering a situation that has multiple lines of interpretation available.”

  • “Follow up with your subjects.”

Young men revel along Fayetteville Street during Hillside High School’s homecoming parade. Hillside has a predominantly African-American student population and serves many low-income communities in East and South Durham. According to Durham Public Schools data, Hillside once had a graduation rate as low as 52 percent in 2009, but it rose to 89 percent in 2014. Photo by Justin Cook.

Young men revel along Fayetteville Street during Hillside High School’s homecoming parade. Hillside has a predominantly African-American student population and serves many low-income communities in East and South Durham. According to Durham Public Schools data, Hillside once had a graduation rate as low as 52 percent in 2009, but it rose to 89 percent in 2014. Photo by Justin Cook.

ARP: What other kinds of professional ethics come up in your line of work in terms of the humans in your photos?

JC: Not affecting the story is a big one -- not affecting the scene. I aim to photograph the setting and lives of people as if I’m not there, to get the truest image possible. But not getting involved at all is sometimes dangerous, and most of the time, impossible.

For instance, in college I photographed a waitress for a story about alcoholism. I needed to photograph her on the hour-long bus ride to her job. On the first visit, I arrived in my car to her home and she asked me for a ride to work. I obviously couldn’t do that since the bus commute was a key part of her story. But once I got enough photos of that, I’d drive her to work the following visits, just to make her days easier. It had no effect on the story. When I feel like I can, I try to give back to those who have opened up and allowed me to be a part of their days.

ARP: On the reverse, what are some regular practices you use to make sure you and your work aren’t stolen, misattributed or exploited?

JC: I make it a point of educating colleagues, co-workers and collaborators on how to attribute the creator of images. But it happens on such a crazy scale - you have grandmas that use my photos of their grandkids and may not have any knowledge on intellectual property up to the Dean of the school I graduated from using my photos without my permission.

ARP: Last question, can you give some advice to emerging arts leaders and artists to ensure their work or the work they represent aren’t exploited?

JC:

  • Copyright your work within 3 months of it being published or it becomes public in any way. I hear infringers say “well you should have watermarked your image - it was on the internet.” That is victim shameing. The burden is NOT on the artist to watermark their images for online use; the burden IS on people to not steal work they know they didn’t create. But watermark work if you can, and if it doesn't distract from the image. If someone crops out a watermark - THAT is intentional copyright infringement.

  • Push for better copyright law at a national level.

  • Reverse google search your images on a regular basis

  • Look into companies who will help find copyright infringements.

  • Build alliances in the legal sphere.

  • Maintain UTMOST professionalism AT. ALL. TIMES. You could turn an infringer into a client.

A man who calls himself "Lil' Salt" flexes in triumph after climbing the corner store dressed as Spider-Man during Halloween festivities in Durham's Southside neighborhood. The Southside has endured despite violence in the past decade, but is changing rapidly under the City of Durham's redevelopment plans. Photo by Justin Cook.

A man who calls himself "Lil' Salt" flexes in triumph after climbing the corner store dressed as Spider-Man during Halloween festivities in Durham's Southside neighborhood. The Southside has endured despite violence in the past decade, but is changing rapidly under the City of Durham's redevelopment plans. Photo by Justin Cook.

ARP: Any last comments?

JC: I’m a white guy who tells stories in black neighborhoods. Knowing my own privilege and limitations inside those communities and constantly checking myself was critical. I try to be transparent in everything I do. Often, I show my photos to the people I’m working with in them all along the way which builds trust. Ultimately, I don’t believe in the tired mantra of “giving a voice to the voiceless.” The folks I’ve worked with have a voice, but they are often simply ignored, silenced or have no platform. Building platforms with folks to tell their own stories and collaborating with them is the future.

We call them Totalitarian

The Context:

"None the Wiser" - Students’ Reactions to the history of the NEA, the Culture Wars and US Obscenity Laws

Amy is teaching "Arts, Culture and Society" at Drexel University this quarter. She's making the class read John Frohnmayer's, former Chair of the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), memoir, "Leaving Town Alive: Confessions of an Arts Warrior." After each chapter, students are tasked to record their reactions to the political climate John is up against as the seemingly only person on the side of the arts in Washington, DC at the time (the 1990's).

A Reaction  to Chapters 2 & 3:

"This controversial piece or art, Piss Christ, made so many people angry, and the government was even forced to talk about it when deciding on the budget. I think that’s what art is supposed to do — make people talk, cause a stir, send a message. Not everyone likes everything, which was easy to see with Serrano’s piece. It's unfortunate how art, religion, and politics get put into a mosh pit. In my opinion, they are separate entities and should remain as such.

This quote really stood out to me because America prides itself on freedom and democracy. “There are other nations around the world which have standards for acceptable and unacceptable artistic expression. We call them totalitarian…it is folly to argue that if federal funds are used for a project, that project must be acceptable to all taxpayers”

What do you think?

The Juggle is Real

I've been teaching a "Strategic Planning" class this year for the Entertainment and Arts Management program at Drexel University. "Strategic Planning" is in quotations because that's only part of what is covered throughout the course. I co-teach with a lawyer/professor with intellectual property and for-profit theater experience and I approach the class like an independent contractor who has shaped their own career since graduating from a painting program. 

What surprises me most is that these students (mostly freshman) are still expecting a 9 to 5 when they graduate - so I'm starting a conversation here about the +'s and -'s of the gig economy, maintaining short term employment with multiple organizations and/or being your own boss.

The Juggle is Real.

And if I can only impress upon my students one thing, it's preparing them for an elusive paycheck - and how to chase it.

Tweet (@artistrebuttal) / Instagram (@artisticrebuttal) us with your #freelancelife or #thejuggleisreal story & images.

Being “THE” Leader of the Arts in America

"None the Wiser" - Students’ Reactions to the history of the NEA, the Culture Wars and US Obscenity Laws

Amy is teaching "Arts, Culture and Society" at Drexel University this quarter. She's making the class read John Frohnmayer's, former Chair of the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), memoir, "Leaving Town Alive: Confessions of an Arts Warrior." After each chapter, students are tasked to record their reactions to the political climate John is up against as the seemingly only person on the side of the arts in Washington, DC at the time (the 1990's).

Chapter 1 Reaction: “I didn't realize there was a position like this (Chairperson of the NEA) that was so highly sought after.”

Question for Discussion: Why would YOU want to be appointed as Chairperson to the NEA and what would be your first priority?

A Significant Change is Coming
Here's a hint of where we're going :)

Here's a hint of where we're going :)

This year we have had months of refocusing, carefully considering our next steps and, most importantly, re-strategizing to make room for a major re-location expected to happen in the spring of next year.

What does re-location mean for the Artistic Rebuttal Project?
This means a significant change in our programming and communications all while drastically expanding our reach to international artists and advocates. We hope to witness and absorb, first hand, how the arts are incorporated into the fabric of countries other than America and what rights are afforded to artists abroad.

We want to share the entire journey with you!

We will be maximizing our website during this time and moving towards a purely digital audience. THIS BLOG has been created to document our travels. Look there for stories and thoughts of an artist advocate traveling through South America (oooo...a hint!)

“None the Wiser:”

"None the Wiser" - Students’ Reactions to the history of the NEA, the Culture Wars and US Obscenity Laws

As a professor of Arts, Culture and Society, I’m making students read the former Chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts, John Frohnmayer’s, book “Leaving Town Alive.” Frohnmayer was Chairman during the Culture Wars / Jesse Helm’s crusade to destroy the first amendment. I’m also making them read parts of my thesis (totally a dream come true, SOMEONE actually reading it.)

I’m making students jot down their reactions to each chapter.

It’s refreshing to me to take these optimistic minds, some would call naive but I call “delightful, curious sponges,” read through this book with the same level of horror that I did. That means society has changed, even a little, since 1993 (the year the book was published). These kids have grown up believing in free speech (well...believing everyone has the right to exercise it, which, those reading this could probably come up with at least 5 examples of that being a false notion), in being able to love and marry who you want to love, in being decent human beings who favor community over money and baffled that they are people in Congress that seek to suppress any of that. I do feel a tiny sting of sadness having to inform them there is still extreme suppression of SO many rights in this country but I’m hoping it makes them even more compassionate & inclusive, even more willing to advocate for the causes they’re the most passionate about instead of depressing them....that is yet to be determined. I should add, not all of them are dewy-eyed school children. A lot of them already have a pretty healthy sense of irony and skepticism, so perhaps for them this class will encourage them to, if I can quote Gandhi, “be the change they want to see in the world,” if they don’t already feel that sense of duty.

I’ll be referring to their (anonymous) insights here, on my blog, and in Artistic Rebuttal newsletters in a bi-monthly segment and asking you all add to the conversation.

I’m calling this segment “None The Wiser” in reference to legislative / judicial branches of US government throughout history trying to impose their own definition of “obscenity” or “good art” or “bad art” upon the art world and artists yet still not having a concrete definition for either. Problematic is so, so many ways.

Look out for the first topic in May!

-Amy Scheidegger

Amy ScheideggerComment
Policy (or just general) Issues (still) Facing the Arts in 2016

Arts Advocacy Day 2016 DEBRIEF

Concerns have arisen for me during this year's Art Advocacy Day...and they're not all policy driven... some of them are personal, highly personal, centering around an imposter syndrome that I still feel after participating in this process 5 times previously, but I'll get to that later. First, we begin with Art Advocacy 101:

DAY ONE - Art Advocacy 101

I attended the ADVANCED Advocacy sessions. I don't remember the conference host making distinctions between advanced and novice attendees before...but perhaps I wasn't looking. I sat in a room where no longer were we talking about HOW to talk to a politician, but WHICH politicians are on the committees we needed to influence. And what those politicians/committees are up against so that we have a better understanding of their political landscape. Plus the current landscape of DC politics in general. Ooooh election years, you're used as an excuse for so many failed attempts at good governing. And then my inferiority complex really sets in - I was in a room full of 100+ actually "advanced" arts advocates and I had to wear my own business card as a nametag because the registration table fucked up. I was feeling so, so out of place and unwelcomed at the very start, though I know mistakes happen, it knocked me off my game. Once I settled in with a hot cup of coffee (that burned my mouth) and the wonderful Julie Hawkins sat down in front of me, I could finally concentrate on the issues:

The key arts policies presented to us this year, 2 main ones:

  • National Endowment for the Arts funds - asking for $155 million this year
  • K-12 Education, the Every Student Succeeds Act - restores state and local control of education needs (CONCERN: some people are terrified of this because they insist a national standard is optimal, when that standard is creating happy, healthy, well rounded kids, at least.)

The breakout sessions I attended had to do with the:

  • Artist Museum Partnership Act (God I love me some Representative John Lewis)
  • Cultural Exchanges and National Service for Artists (which I selfishly attended due to my upcoming move out of the US, and no, not because I'm scared that Donald Trump will become POTUS. CONCERN: the agency that handles cultural exchanges of artists DON'T HAVE DATA. And from my understanding, another agency HAS the data but because the exchange program itself is not it's own line item on a budget, it's enveloped by another bigger program, the exchange program doesn't even know what it's exact budget is!)

I didn't attend the Nancy Hanks Lecture after all the 101 sessions, which is something I usually look forward to, but because I was feeling a mix of inferiority, fear of going back to my AirBnB solo after the sun went down, and unapologetic about the 2 syllabi I need to heavily freshen up for the classes I'm teaching next quarter, I went home after our Capitol Hill prep meeting with our state captain, Jenny Hershour. I booked it back to the subway and I admit...I ended up not working on any syllabi. I instead ordered enough Mexican food for 2 people and, with glee, ate it all on the couch while I watched Return of the King. I admitted defeat not long into the meal and settled in for a night of relaxation and bloating.

DAY TWO: Capital Hill

Congressional Kick Off Breakfast - I flew this one solo. I got in early enough to grab a biscuit, a coffee, and a seat from which I didn't move because I like to pick a spot and claim it for the entirety of my visit. Unfortunately, that seat was in the back of the room so I saw none of the speakers. But they all spoke eloquently. I left the breakfast early because the woman-sitting-next-to-me's assistant said she needed an hour to get to the Cannon House Office Building, the same place I was headed for my meeting with Senator Robert Brady. 

What happened in the Cannon Building has never happened to me before. 

I had the undivided attention of Brady's scheduler for 10 entire minutes: the usual length of an entire meeting, where you're only one of 8 to 10 people. Because of the tip during breakfast, I got there 20 minutes early. I walked in, took a seat and two Drexel students filtered in after me. 10 minutes later we're sitting with the scheduler of Brady's office, the Drexel students staring at me in desperation to do all the talking (I WAS the veteran there, after all). So I went for it. I got to talk for 10 minutes about why the arts, the NEA, the Every Student Succeeds Act, the Artist-Museum Partnership Act and why arts and entrepreneurship is a growing and vibrant field in south eastern Pennsylvania and why that should matter to Brady. 

If you've ever lobbied for something, you know what a big deal that is.

I'm going to be boasting about it for a while. Mainly because, little did we know, the President of the Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance (the person who by most accounts SHOULD have had the scheduler's ear for 10 solid minutes) was patiently waiting for the clock to strike 10:30am (the time of our appointment) before stepping into the office. The Alliance definitely got their time in, and apologized for stepping on MY toes as they entered while I was talking. I was just grateful that for once, after 6 visits to Capitol Hill as an arts advocate, my voice was heard.

Why did it take so long? I'm sure it's a mix of my own inferiority / imposter syndrome, my lack of confidence and decisiveness of words in speaking when I'm put on the spot, my generally introverted nature, the mass amount of information and strange new people that are thrown at you the day before and the designed-to-be-intimidating-and-disorienting political complex that houses all these offices. Thankfully, for many reasons, this trip I talked a lot. A lot. Even after designating this trip the one where I'd do more listening. I hope I will find the confidence to talk more often and not only on Capitol Hill. On this blog. On my other Artistic Rebuttal platforms and during events.

I encourage you all to speak up for the things you are an advocate for. Speak up loud and often.


Amy ScheideggerComment
Arts Advocacy Day 2016

It's Amy here - watching The Hobbit in my AirBnB in DC while designing a "Go Forth By Phone" reminder eblast, strategizing for Artistic Rebuttal 2017, and re-organizing syllabi for the two classes I'm going to teach in the Entertainment and Arts Management program at Drexel next quarter. I'm missing my Pedro and my pup but when it's Arts Advocacy Day, one must go forth!

If you aren't able to make it down to DC this year and are based in Philly, please consider advocating for the arts on March 8th at the Philadelphia Flower Show!

I'm here attempting to represent four different organizations. FOUR. This platform, Artistic Rebuttal Project; the org I'm the volunteer President of, Emerging Arts Leaders: Philadelphia; the org I'm paid to market for, Theatre Horizon; and the the org in which I cultivate the next generation of art advocates/managers, Drexel University.

I've made a vow to myself to talk to at least 4 new people (non-politicians) about each one of these organizations - we'll see how far I get. It may prove a stupid strategy.

I also am attempting to listen this year more than talk. In the past I was always so worried about getting a word in..."say something, Amy. That's why you're here." Instead, this year, as I sit at the same table and in a legislator's office with the newest Drexel Arts Administration Graduate cohort, I've decided to do a lot of listening. For some of these grad students, this will be their only year going to Arts Advocacy Day.

This is my sixth and won't be my last.

Therefore, I'll be taking a lot of notes during all this listening and share in an upcoming blog post.

So stay tuned for an Arts Advocacy Day 2016 re-cap!

 

-Amy

Creative Swap Success!

Thank you so much to our brave, talented participants for getting up on a Saturday morning to swap skill-sets and knowledge to help their fellow man.

In the room, creative strengths ranged from organizational skills, grant writing and city-wide access to art students. Needs of participants ranged from affordable child care, arts education research and venue space. Everyone walked away with contact info, how-to-swap worksheets and a suggested timeline to ensure a fair and mutually beneficial partnership.

Stay tuned as we check in on our attendees and their swaps!

In partnership with Small But Mighty Arts, Impact Hub Philly and Witty Gritty, our first swap was a success! Visual proof below :)

Amy and Mikhail talk about murals and community conflicts that sometimes arise.

Amy and Mikhail talk about murals and community conflicts that sometimes arise.

August and Christina, swapping it out!

August and Christina, swapping it out!

A very stoic looking Erica Hawthorne-Manon, Founder of Small But Mighty Arts, listening while Jeanette talks about her creative needs.

A very stoic looking Erica Hawthorne-Manon, Founder of Small But Mighty Arts, listening while Jeanette talks about her creative needs.

Despite there being no memo about it, half of us showed up in fuschia....we're all so fashionable!

Despite there being no memo about it, half of us showed up in fuschia....we're all so fashionable!