Providence, RI City Hall. Photo by Metris Arts, 2019.
Artists who collaborate with municipal agencies and community organizations inspire us at Metris. This work happens in many different ways. It ranges from one-off temporary installations to decades-long residencies. Those in the arts field are familiar with this work. But unfortunately, most government agencies donâ€™t understand how artists can play a role in their work.
Itâ€™s hard to remember my first encounter with the artist/planner. This was definitely not covered in planning school. When I worked at the Chicago Department of Planning this wasnâ€™t yet on our radar. Theaster Gates is the first urban planner with a serious creative practice that I met. At the time (mid 1990â€™s) he was working as a planner at the Chicago Transit Authority.
May and June were a whirlwind for Metris. I attended and spoke at the ArtPlace Summit in Jackson, MS and the Americans for the Arts Annual Convention in the Twin Cities. I love contributing to (and learning from) communities of practice. Itâ€™s such a pleasure to get out of the office and connect with colleagues doing place-based work around the country.
Iâ€™ve spent most of my life living in urban spaces. In our work at Metris, we lift up examples of arts and culture happening in communities across the U.S. I also recently joined the board of the Department of Public Transformation, an organization working to support and connect artists in rural places around the U.S. Does the fact that Iâ€™ve lived most my life in urban spaces compromise my ability to support work happening in rural places?
The is a gathering of folks working in rural America and rural Indian Country. The Summit is an opportunity to learn from each other and to build a national network. This yearâ€™s Summit happened right after the ArtPlace Summit in Jackson, MS. I already planned to attend the ArtPlace Summit, so why not stick around Jackson for a couple more days? Attending the Rural Generation Summit allowed me some dedicated time to learn and think about arts and culture in rural communities.
I was lucky to be able to attend some of the Philadelphia Common Field Convening back in April. It was an inspiring gathering of arts organizers, artist collectives, and small-scale arts organizations from the U.S. and Canada.
Last week, Rachel and I headed to Richmond, Indiana for meetings with the Indiana Arts Commission (IAC). We are working with the IAC to design an evaluation plan and assess their evaluation capacity so that they can improve and share the impact of their work. The IAC goes â€śon the roadâ€ť for two of its Commission meetings each year and so we got to meet with the Commissioners and IACâ€™s Regional Arts Partners (RAPs) in Richmond, Indiana.
We conceived a day trip of meetings in NYC some months agoâ€”thinking it would be a great way to kick off our marketing efforts in early 2019. Little did we know that the weather gods would smile upon us and deliver a sunny, 60-degree day in early February, just one week after the polar vortex.
My colleagues Anne Gadwa Nicodemus, Susannah Laramee Kidd, Rachel Engh, and I booked meetings with people and agencies whose work we admire, as well as present, former (and maybe future!) clients to check in on whatâ€™s on deck for 2019 and explore opportunities to collaborate.