SHEY RIVERA: ART AND CULTURE SPARK POSITIVE CHANGE IN 2017
While many art and cultural institutions will be shut down today as part of the J20 Art Strike, after long and considered thought and debate, AS220 will remain open.
As our mission calls for our facilities and services to be “made available to all artists” (that’s you) and especially those who might otherwise face obstacles “because of financial or other limitations”, we feel that it’s important for our doors to remain open for our community to come to congregate, create, or just hang out and exist peacefully on this day.
Programming on the books for today is as follows:
The following was written by AS220’s Artistic Director, Shey Rivera, when asked what she was hoping for in 2017:
All of us have felt the intensity of 2016. National conflict that reminded us how much work still needs to be done in regards to human rights. We’ve also seen the power that people have to mobilize and spark positive change.
This is a calling. For us to be much more open and ready in 2017, to work harder to create empathy, to strengthen our ability to expand outside our circles and experience others’ cultural contexts, so we can come together as individuals that respect and acknowledge difference with the understanding that it strengthens us as a nation. We must continue to create pathways for young people, especially young people of color and our LGBTTQ youth. They are a brave and powerful generation that will take us to a new level. We must take initiative in gaining a deeper understanding of the role that we as individuals, and our families and loved ones, play in the larger narrative of our communities and our countries.
The foundation of this, in my opinion, is art and culture. These are the vehicles through which we form and shape our identities and our voices; art and culture inspire pride, ownership, they create visibility, legacy; they mark our history and help us shape our futures. This is why AS220 believes in a just world where all people can realize their full creative potential. People are not commodity; we must not forget that. This is why places that are open forums of creation, voice, and empowerment, are critical. This is why it’s important that those spaces are not just operating or serving people who have means and privilege.
Providence is about 50% people of color. Support for creative entrepreneurship must be intercultural and intergenerational. I’d like to see and contribute to more opportunities for people to realize their potential and find their own paths of progress and sustainability, by their own definition. The arts and culture sector is not a bubble; we intersect with economic development, urban renewal, civic engagement, education, and social justice, among others. There’s still much work to do in unpacking the potential. In the Creative Capital, it’s vital that we support a stronger arts and culture sector, with much more representation of our intercultural and intergenerational communities receiving resources and support. Our people, the cultural richness of our city, is our greatest resource; we define our identity and legacy.