Inspired by the Depression-era Works Progress Administration, ARTISTS AT WORK (AAW) is a new program designed to give artists resources to continue to produce work during the immediate health and economic crisis brought by COVID, and to build new structures and partnerships that will help to sustain the creative sector in a post-pandemic America.
The Mount, Edith Wharton’s Home was selected as one of six cultural hubs for the pilot program. Read below to learn more about the project and our artist-in-residence, Lia Russell-Self. Watch The Mount’s Executive Director Susan Wissler discuss the pilot program on PBS News Hour.
Community Project: Reclaim Your Liberation
The Reclaim Your Liberation Project centers on what it means for QTBIPOC folks to reconnect to the self, the land, and our Ancestors through artistic expression while immersed in the natural world. This project acknowledges the historical and contemporary disparities regarding access to land and barriers to participation in outdoor healing and connection with nature.
Follow along at @reclaim_your_liberation.
Artist-in-ResidenceOriginally from Stone Mountain, Georgia, Lia Russell-Self (they/them/their) is a multifaceted weaver of stories, often grappling with juxtaposed theories and the unexpected. Their current work grapples with how identities, imposed and claimed, can spark the loud secrets we keep best hidden. Lia can often be found in the theatre in the hills that join Massachusetts and New York, whether performing on stage, creating brave spaces for oppressed peoples, or teaching young dreamers like themselves to do the same. Lia is affiliated with numerous small performance ensembles that stretch throughout New England, including WAM Theatre, Black Shakespeare Project, Eighty4 Productions, and the rig.
Community PartnerRaei Bridges (He/They) is the Founder and Lead Guide at The Rusty Anvil. They facilitate experiences of mindful communion with the land that holds space for others to build on their relationship to place within themselves and nature, and experience the healing and self-discovery that comes from forming an intimate sense of place in the more-than-human world. The Rusty Anvil is an educational organization reconnecting marginalized communities to their place within the natural world through mindful wilderness trips and place-based skills while serving as a platform for ancestral healing, community building, and cultural transformation.
More about Artists at Work (AAW)
Conceived in collaboration with the FreshGrass Foundation as a public/private partnership that combines government, corporate, and foundation support, AAW is a WPA for the arts reimagined into a modern context that is sensitive to the 21st century landscape (now drastically changed) of every artistic discipline’s place in the culture.
AAW provides a dynamic and flexible structure for funding to flow into the cultural sector with substantive, immediate, and tangible impacts for individual artists, institutions, and the general public—outcomes that will help art and artists to survive, and also embed the arts more deeply into communities to the benefit of society as a whole.
Artists At Work’s goals are to give a significant number of artists a living wage to continue to make work, to activate cultural institutions in support of that work, to put that work into the public sphere for free to audiences (and in doing so to boost local economies), and to connect artists and cultural organizations to local initiatives in areas like youth mental health, suicide prevention, food justice, prison reform, youth at risk, and campaigns for COVID awareness in communities of color, and other civic engagements with the aim of fostering healthy communities.