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This webinar series is intended to help guide you through NEFA's Public Art for Spatial Justice (PASJ) application whether you are new to the program or grant writing in general. Wherever you need the most support in applying is where you can spend the most time with each of these short videos. This blog was updated October 6, 2023 with the final webinar.
You are welcome to go in order, skip around, rewind and repeat. Each part of this webinar series is geared to help you determine whether this is the grant for you before you spend time applying. And further, how to make the most of your time in the grants portal with more insight from the application process that we can offer.
Webinar 1 reviews the specifics of this grant opportunity and the eligibility requirements, funding criteria and priorities that will determine whether you can move forward to apply for this grant. We recommend starting here if you are new to PASJ.
[Speakers: Kim Szeto; Jessica Wong Camhi]
[Kim] Hi! I’m Kim Szeto, Senior Program Director for Public Art at NEFA.
[Jessica] Hi! I’m Jessica Wong Camhi, Senior Program Coordinator for Public Art at NEFA.
[Kim] Welcome to Part 1 of our Public Art for Spatial Justice webinar series. This brief video will provide an introduction to our Public Art for Spatial Justice Grant opportunity, and we’ll talk through eligibility and funding criteria as well as program priorities.
We will also have two additional videos available on our website. One video takes a deeper dive into our narrative questions in the application and the other video contains some tech tips for navigating our online grants portal.
Feel free to watch them in whatever order seems helpful to you!
For first-time applicants, we strongly encourage watching all three videos. And for those who’ve applied before, our programs are constantly evolving, and you may notice some changes to the application this time around.
We hope these short videos will support all our applicants in learning more about our Public Art for Spatial Justice and navigate the application process.
With that, let’s dive into the content of this video.
[Jessica] So, what is Public Art for Spatial Justice, or PASJ?
At NEFA we believe that public art has the power to shift public culture and change the future, for the better.
Public Art for Spatial Justice funds artists to create public art that creatively cultivates expressions or embodiments of a more just version of what’s possible in public.
Our colleagues at the Design Studio for Social Intervention frame spatial justice as the right to be, thrive, express, and connect in and across public space. When we think about our public spaces, who has this right to be, thrive, express, and connect in public space? and who doesn’t?
We can think about the historical context of the U.S. being colonized land, the rise in white supremacist public demonstrations, anti-trans legislation in public schools, the ongoing public murders of Black people in public, as well as the continued violence against Asian Americans that saturates U.S. public environments and media. These are reminders that we aren’t all afforded our right to simply be in public. Both structural and cultural injustices contribute to these spatial injustices.
At NEFA, we recognize that our public spaces aren’t just blank canvases for artmaking and we believe that the arts are a critical vehicle for social justice and social change.
Through these grants, we want to support public art practices that are working towards realizing more just futures for our public spaces, rather than reinforcing or perpetuating these injustices in the process or in the presentation of the artmaking.
Public Art for Spatial Justice aims to support public art that helps us see, feel, experience, and imagine spatial justice now, while we are still on this collective journey towards realizing more just futures for our public spaces and public cultures.
If you’d like to learn more about spatial justice, we’ll provide a few links in an addendum to the transcript of this video on our website.
[Kim] For a quick overview, the Public Art for Spatial Justice Grant opportunity funds Massachusetts-based artists and community-based anchor organizations in Massachusetts that are working in collaboration with particular artists to create public art in Massachusetts that helps us see, feel, experience, and imagine spatial justice now, while we are still on this collective journey towards realizing more just futures for our public spaces and public culture.
Grantees will have up to two years to complete projects and can receive $15,000 to $30,000 in project funds.
By providing a longer grant period and an increase in funding from previous years, we hope artists will be able to pace their project timelines with more care, intentionality, and at a more sustainable pace throughout the artmaking process.
[Jessica] So who can apply for PASJ? You can either apply as a Massachusetts-based artist or a collaboration of artists, OR as a community-based anchor organization in Massachusetts who is working in collaboration with a particular artist.
Artist applicants must be at least 18 years old and based in Massachusetts. Artists applying together can be a group of artists informally working together for this particular project or an artist collective that regularly works together on projects.
Community-based organizations applying must be based in Massachusetts and working in collaboration with a particular artist or artists. Organizations may be a 501c3 or fiscally sponsored.
[Kim] So what type of projects are eligible? Projects of all artistic disciplines –visual, performative, rooted in ritual are eligible. Check out the grantee directory on NEFA’s website for examples of past projects that have been funded.
We ask that projects be located in Massachusetts, engage the public, and/or be available to the general public to happen upon, and cultivate expressions and/or embodiments of spatial justice through public artmaking.
[Jessica] So who’s not eligible to apply for PASJ? Lead applicants based outside of Massachusetts, proposed projects based outside of Massachusetts, current PASJ grantees who have not completed their respective grantee reports and are applying as a lead applicant, and past PASJ grantees who have completed their grantee report less than one full calendar year ago. For example, if you submitted a PASJ grantee report on June 1st, 2023, you are not eligible to submit a new application for PASJ before June 1, 2024.
[Kim] If you are thinking about applying in the next round, the eligibility criteria that we just reviewed is the place to start. If you are not sure if you are eligible, you can email the public art team at email@example.com with specific questions regarding your eligibility.
If you are eligible and you’re ready to apply, the next thing to do is to review the funding criteria and priorities. As we mentioned at the top of the webinar, Public Art for Spatial Justice aims to support public artmaking that is working towards realizing more just futures for public spaces, rather than reinforcing or perpetuating injustices, in the process and/or presentation of the artmaking. Our funding criteria and priorities help us to see the alignment between our program goals and the project applications that are submitted.
[Jessica] There are three main funding criterias that we are asking our reviewers to consider: public artmaking, relevance, and integrity.
For public artmaking, we recognize that there is a lot of important spatial justice work that’s fostering more just futures for our public spaces, but it may not and should not be considered public art or public artmaking, and there are some beautiful values-aligned art projects that may not be designed for the general public to engage with.
For the sake of this grant, we are defining public artmaking as artistic and cultural expressions of all artistic disciplines – including visual, performative, those rooted in ritual – that engage or activate public space. And we are defining public space as places that are open and available for the general public to happen upon.
For relevance, we believe context is important in public artmaking. Why this project? Why here? Why now? Public spaces are not neutral and the public art made in public spaces is also not neutral. Reviewers are looking to understand the context of the project as well as the lead applicant’s intention for public artmaking. Another way to think about this is: How does this project and the lead artist or applicant relate to this place? What is the relationship of this project to this space?
Integrity. We acknowledge that public art practices that reduce people, places, and stories to tools for artmaking are harmful. Reviewers are looking for projects that are built on trust, accountability, and reciprocity and honor the integrity of the people, places, stories, and ideas – including those past, present, and future – engaged in the artmaking. How is this project demonstrating integrity in both the process and the products? We want to fund public artmaking that is thinking about who the public art is for, and by whom it is created.
[Kim] The priority will be given to projects that are led or co-led by Black, Indigenous People of Color. At NEFA we believe that diverse artistic and cultural expression is essential to more vibrant, just, and welcoming public spaces. We also believe the path to dismantling the legacies of racism and white supremacy culture includes centering BIPOC-led creative exploration and expression in public spaces. As we aim to shift public culture towards more just futures, we think it’s important to consider who’s making the public art.
We’re also prioritizing projects that are rooted in community. As we mentioned in the funding criteria, integrity in the lead applicant’s relationship to place and space and the people of that place is important and we are particularly interested in public artmaking that is rooted in rural places and/or places where folks are experiencing or have experienced displacement.
Recognizing that art washing is a thing – that is, art that may be beautifying space and fostering economic development at the expense of displacing current residents and businesses who can no longer afford to stay in that particular place. We’re asking, “public art for whom?” and want to be mindful that the public art that we are supporting isn't intentionally or accidentally contributing to the displacement of communities.
And last but not least, PASJ is prioritizing projects that are focused on disrupting harmful historic narratives; decolonizing and/or indigenizing spaces; and/or centering BIPOC creativity, imagination, and expression in public space.
So I think that covers the basics!
[Jessica] So are you ready to apply for PASJ? Be sure to check out the other videos in this series that focus on the application narrative questions and tech tips for NEFA’s online grants portal. Both can be found on the PASJ grant page on NEFA’s website.
[Kim] Application deadlines and more information about info sessions and office hours are also available at the PASJ grant page and if you still have questions, you can always email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you for watching!
The Design Studio for Social Intervention (DS4SI)’s writings on spatial justice:
Webinar 2 offers more insight on what the panel reviewers are hoping to learn from your application, by diving deeper into the narrative questions. We share more context for why we ask these questions and the different ways you can share the critical aspects of your proposal with us.
[Speaker: Kim Szeto]
Hi! I’m Kim Szeto, Senior Program Director for Public Art at NEFA.
Welcome to Part 2 of our Public Art for Spatial Justice webinar series. This brief video will provide an overview of the Public Art for Spatial Justice application narrative questions.
We also have two additional videos available on our website. One video provides an introduction to PASJ with an overview of eligibility and funding criteria, as well as funding priorities. This is a great one to start with if you are new to the Public Art for Spatial Justice Grant. And the other video contains some tech tips for navigating our online grants portal.
Feel free to watch them in whatever order seems most helpful to you.
For first-time applicants we strongly encourage watching all three videos. And for those who’ve applied before, our programs are constantly evolving, and you may notice some changes to the application this time around.
We hope these short videos will support all of our applicants in learning more about our Public Art for Spatial Justice Grant and navigating the application process.
With that, I’ll go ahead and dive into the content for this video:
I’ll walk you through each of the Narrative Questions in the application. The Narrative Questions are an important part of the application where you can help our reviewers to get to know the vision and intentions of your project.
But please note there’s a lot more to the application than the narrative questions! For example, there’s the budget and budget narrative, attachments, work samples, and more. Please be sure to take a look at the full application in our grant’s portal as soon as possible so you can plan your time well for preparing your application. And for tech tips on navigating the grants portal, I highly recommend watching the third video in this series.
One relevant tech tip that I’ll share here is to draft your responses to the narrative questions in a Google or Word document, and then copy and paste the text into the application in the online grants portal. Our online grants portal does NOT auto save, so when you are working in the portal– whether on the narrative questions or other sections, hit that save button as often as you remember!
Okay, so now for the first question. We ask about what the public artmaking is. So, please describe the public artmaking project you are proposing.
We are looking for you to share with us a clear vision and articulation of what the public art project is. How are you defining your public artmaking practice for this project? What is the artistic discipline? What materials are you using? Is this an installation? Or is it performance? Or is it ritual based? Or all of the above? Help our reviewers understand the public artmaking for this project.
NEFA is defining public artmaking as artistic and culture expressions of all artistic disciplines — including visual, performative, and those rooted in ritual — that engage and/or activate public space. And we’re defining public spaces as places that are open and available for the general public to happen upon.
We recognize that there is a lot of spatial justice work that may not be public artmaking, and shouldn’t be! PASJ is specifically looking to fund the public artmaking that embodies and expresses more just possibilities for our public spaces.
And I also note that the character limit for your response is 3,500 characters with spaces, but do not feel like you need to max out the character count! Our reviewers welcome and encourage concise responses! Just be sure to thoroughly answer the question.
Great, so next question starts to inquire about relevance. So why are you as the lead applicant or artist interested in leading this particular public art project? And why now? At NEFA we believe context is important to public artmaking and that public spaces aren’t just blank canvas for artmaking. Recognizing the complexities of our public spaces, What is the relevance of your project? And more specifically, what is the relevance of your project at this moment in time? Or another way to think about this is how does your project, and you as the lead applicant or artist, relate to this place? Use this question to help our reviewers understand your context as the lead applicant and the context of this project in time and space. This may also be a good moment to speak to some of our funding priorities if they apply to this project.
And just as a reminder of what those funding priorities are. First, we’re prioritizing projects that are led or co-led by Black, Indigenous People of Colo and more specifically BIPOC artists and creatives. We believe the path to dismantling the legacies of racism and white supremacy culture includes centering BIPOC-led creative exploration and expression in public spaces. And because we believe context is important to public artmaking, who is leading is as important as what is being made.
PASJ also prioritizes projects that are rooted in community and/or demonstrate a deep relationship to place – particularly rural places, and places where folks are experiencing or have experienced displacement. We recognize that art-washing is real! And public artmaking can sometimes intentionally and unintentionally lead to economic development that displaces existing communities. We want to avoid that! And we believe artmaking practices that are rooted in community are more often FOR community. So, we not only ask public art by whom? But also, public art for whom?
And last but not least PASJ also prioritizes projects that are disrupting harmful historic narratives that uphold structural inequities; that decolonize and/or indigenize spaces; and/or centering BIPOC creativity, imagination, and expression in public spaces.
With these priorities in mind help the reviewers understand, why are you as the lead applicant/artist interested in leading this particular public art project? And why now?
Great. Question number three continues to dig into relevance – focusing on the relevance and the where. Where are you planning to implement this project? Why here? Upload a photo of the location where this project will take place.
PASJ is supporting public artmaking in communities across Massachusetts. Although we specifically select reviewers with diverse knowledge and understanding of communities across the Commonwealth, there’s a chance we might not know your community or the place where you are bringing your artmaking as well as YOU do.
As we recognize that context is important to public artmaking and that public spaces aren’t just blank canvas for artmaking, our reviewers want to better understand the context of place and space. Where is this project taking place and why there? And new this year, we are also asking for a picture of the public space where this project is taking place. This is helpful for our reviewers to begin to imagine your project in the context of place and space.
Question number four begins to explore your process. Please outline the project work plan and timeline. Note that the grant period is up to 24 months from the start of the grant year. So this particular round that’s coming up begins March 1st, 2024 and goes through February 28th, 2026. Project timelines may be shorter but must take place within the grant period. So the grant period is up to two years. Help reviewers understand your plans for this time. Projects may be completed in less time, but we just want to know how you’re going to use this time to implement this project. We increased the grant period to two years because we realized a lot of grantees were needing to request extensions on their project timelines. We are hoping to support artists to move with more care, intentionality, and at a more sustainable pace in the artmaking process. Please share with us a reasonable process and timeline for you to complete this project.
It will also be good to think about how this timeline aligns with your budget. How are you compensating collaborators in this work and fairly valuing your own time in this work?
Questions number five and six are getting at the third and final funding criteria, which is integrity. So question number 5 is looking at the integrity of your relationship to people and place, and it asks, “at NEFA we believe that public art practices that reduce people, places, and stories to tools for artmaking are harmful. Reviewers are looking for projects that build trust, accountability, and reciprocity and honor the integrity of the people, places, stories, and ideas – past, present, and future – engaged in the artmaking.” So, we want to know to whom is this project accountable? How are you demonstrating accountability in the planning and implementation of this project? Please tell us about your relationship to the people and place where you’re implementing this project.
I know I probably sound like a broken record by now, but we strongly believe that context is important to public artmaking and that public spaces are not blank canvas for artmaking. So, with this in mind, there are people who take pride in our public spaces, as well as those who feel unwelcomed, policed, erased in these spaces. And these may even be the same communities of people. Thinking about whose story or experience is this project uplifting, celebrating, questioning, prioritizing. When it comes to public artmaking with a lens towards spatial justice, relationships are an important part of the public artmaking process. Use this space to help reviewers understand how you are approaching these relationships in this project.
Things to avoid in your artmaking: cultural appropriation or something we like to call “trauma-rama” – representing another community’s traumatic experience such as racism, colonization, or gun violence in the form of artmaking in a way that leads to more trauma than healing. And leaning into the idea that how we make art is as important as the art that’s mad and relationships are an important part of public art making with a lens toward spatial justice, question number six aims to better understand the relationship among those who are leading the project.
Since you may be applying as a community-based organization collaborating with an artist or artists, or individual artists, leading this project solo, or a collaboration among artists who are collectively leading this work, there are slight variations to the question based on how you’re applying.
So, I’ll start with community-based organizations that are applying in collaboration with a particular artist. We want to know how your organization is uniquely poised to lead this particular project. Why have you chosen to collaborate with this particular artist? We want to understand the relationship between the organization and the project and the organization and the lead artist. How are you working together in ways that demonstrate accountability, reciprocity in your working relationship?
For individual artists, leading this work solo, tell us about your artistic practice. Why are you uniquely poised to lead this particular project? This is a self-reflective question to better understand your relationship to the work that’s being proposed.
And for artists who are working in collaboration with one another, we want to know why you’ve chosen to work together. How are you working together in ways that demonstrate trust, accountability, and reciprocity in your working relationship?
Also, there are other ways to demonstrate this in your application. You can include letters of support from community and/or collaborators. And note that this isn’t required, but an option. You can think about how your budget speaks to transparency and reciprocity. So really think about your whole application as you’re thinking about our funding criteria and priorities.
And last but not least, question number seven is truly optional and designed to give you more space to provide context. A tip: Take a look at the PASJ grant page for a full understanding of our funding priorities. We acknowledge that the people reviewing your application are likely to have gaps in understanding or knowledge about the context of your work. Please share any other information you think would be important to fairly assess your application. In addition to your written response to this question, you may also choose to submit a short video, up to three minutes in total, responding to the question. This last question is optional. If you got everything you need to say in the other questions, truly do not feel obligated to answer this question. But if you feel like you need more space to help reviewers see the alignment with your project and the funding criteria and priorities, this is the space to do it!
Those are all of the narrative questions. I hope this was helpful and thank you for watching!
If you’re ready to apply for PASJ, be sure to check out the other two videos. The first one is an overview of the Public Art for Spatial Justice eligibility and funding criteria and funding priorities. And the second one is tech tips for the NEFA’s online grants portal. Both can be found on the Public Art for Spatial Justice grant page.
The application deadline and more information about Information Sessions and Office Hours are also available at the PASJ grant page. And if you still have questions, you can always email us at email@example.com.
Awesome - thanks for watching!
Webinar 3 guides you on how to navigate the grants portal where you can access the application. We will offer tips for how to do this successfully and how to avoid technical difficulties along the way. We recommend this video if you are new to applying for grants and specifically applying for NEFA grants through the online grants portal.
[speaker Jessica Wong Camhi]
Hi. I'm Jessica Wong Camhi, senior program coordinator for public art at the New England Foundation for the Arts. Welcome to part 3 of our Public Art for Spatial Justice, or P-A-S-J, webinar series. This video provides technical support for starting an application and navigating NEFA's online grants portal.
We also have two additional webinars available on our website. The first is an overview of PASJ, including eligibility, funding criteria, and program priorities. And the other takes a deeper dive into the narrative questions in the application. Please feel free to watch them in whatever order seems most helpful to you.
For first time applicants, we strongly encourage watching all three videos, and for those who have applied before, our programs are constantly evolving. And you may notice some changes to the application this time around. We hope that these videos will support all our applicants in learning more about our Public Art for Spatial Justice opportunity and navigating the application process.
With that, let's dive into the content for this video. This is the third PASJ webinar, focusing on applying for PASJ, including navigating NEFA's online grants portal, along with some tech tips.
So let's start with where you can access the PASJ application. Go to the PASJ Grant page on NEFA's website, www.nefa.org/CreateSpatialJustice. To learn more about the grant, including funding eligibility, criteria, and priorities. This is also where you can start a new PASJ application.
The gray box on the right has all our action items related to the PASJ application. There's a link to preview the application's narrative questions without logging into the grants portal. There's a link on registering for our upcoming virtual information sessions, and there's another link to sign up for office hours if you want to talk through your application with NEFA staff.
And then when you're ready to apply, you can click the Apply Now button to start a new application or click the Resume My Application button to log back into our grants portal and continue an application that you've already started.
Now, to move to NEFA's online grants portal-- if you're new to NEFA's online grants portal, meaning you've never seen this login page before, you'll need to set up an account by clicking New User before signing in. You can either register as an individual who is unaffiliated with any specific organization, or if you will primarily interact with NEFA through an organization or group, you can register as that organization.
Once you have a username, if you are starting a new application or resuming an application, you will need to sign in with your username and password here.
After signing in, you'll see your dashboard, which is basically a table of contents that has all the NEFA applications you've started with this account. If you clicked to the Resume My Application button on NEFA's website, you'll be brought to this dashboard upon logging in. Select the Edit or pen icon to the left of your PASJ application to continue working on it.
If you clicked the Apply Now button to start a new application, it will skip the dashboard and bring you directly into a new application, which I will show you on the next slide.
Once you open a PASJ grant application, you'll see this page. In the application itself, you'll see that there are eight tabs to work through. We won't go through all of them in this video, just the tabs where we can offer more tips and clarity on things that have snagged past applicants.
The first tab, Applicant Information, is designed to collect basic information about you as the lead artist or anchor organization. This includes contact information, demographic information, and so on. You will need to enter a project name on the first tab and save your application before you can view the rest of the tabs. The Save button is at the bottom of the page.
The next tab is Lead Creative Collaborators. For PASJ, one of our funding priorities is projects that are led or co-led by Black, Indigenous, People of Color, and more specifically, BIPOC artists and creatives. We believe that the path to dismantling the legacies of racism and white supremacy culture includes centering BIPOC-led creative exploration and expression in public spaces. Please note that not all PASJ teams that are funded will be BIPOC-led. This work requires white allies too.
So we ask applicants to let us know how they self-identify to help our reviewers better assess this priority. On the Lead Creative Collaborators tab, you can add collaborating artists and share how they self-identify as well.
Moving on in the application, the narrative questions can be found in the Project tab. This is the main place in the application to share your project proposal with our panel reviewers. You can learn more about the PASJ application's narrative questions in the second webinar in this series.
And this is a very important note. This online portal does not auto save. We highly recommend that you draft your responses to the narrative questions in a Google doc or a Word doc first, and then copy and paste the text into the application in the online grants portal. Also remember to hit the Save button at the bottom of each page regularly as you're working on the rest of the application.
Several past applicants have lost their work along the way and have had to start over because their Wi-Fi or their power glitched, and the portal did not save their narrative responses.
Moving on, the fourth tab is for the optional audio/visual work sample submissions. You are not required to submit an audio or visual sample, but you are welcome to do so if you think it would be helpful in support of your project proposal. If you do choose to include audio or visual samples, click the blue button on the right that says New to start submitting.
After clicking that button, you will be navigated to the A/V work samples form. To review the instructions, samples should be no more than three minutes each. This allows the panelists to be able to sample however many applications we receive with multiple A/V samples. If you submit a longer video, the panelists will only watch the first three minutes unless you share queue times that are in three-minute segments.
You could submit up to three samples. This is not a requirement. And we invite you to share the work samples that best support your project proposal. Remember that sometimes less is more. And please note that we do not ask you to upload these audio or video files. We are asking for links to audio or video work that is hosted on a platform like Vimeo or YouTube or Google Drive.
When you scroll down in this form, this is what you will see. Here are a few tips that can help you submit a complete A/V sample. Please test the links before you copy and paste them into these fields. Make sure the links work and that they navigate to the place you intend them to go. Please include the password if it's needed for the links you submit, and as always, remember to save as you go.
The next section we will cover is the Visual Work Samples tab. You are required to upload at least one image file and can upload up to three. Click the Choose File button to upload each image.
You may be a sound artist or not work with visual art and wonder what to put here. You are welcome to include an image of your site, an in-process shot, or even an image of your collaborators. Just choose an image that you think will support your project proposal.
Scroll down on the Visual Work Sample page and you will see a place to upload an image list. We ask that you include a brief image description and photo crediting information. Please share with us whether NEFA can use these images or not on our website or in program publications, should you be awarded.
The image list can be a Word doc or a PDF. Your application will not be complete without this, so don't forget. And please, as always, remember to hit the Save button after uploading.
The last section we'll go over in this webinar is the Statistics tab. This form is required, and you may be wondering what this is. Because NEFA receives funding from the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies we are mandated to collect certain information from applicants. That information in the statistics section will not be used to assess your application.
To begin, click the blue button on the right that says New, which will open the required form. Here we have the required form, and what kind of information are these national entities collecting? The first field is project discipline, which includes a dropdown list of options. The next field asks, what percentage of your work can be described as arts education?
The third field is whether or not your project involves any international activity. Additional fields ask for demographic information about the beneficiaries of your project. When you reach the bottom of the page, don't forget to save.
This entire statistics form is required. So you do need to complete all the fields. Please answer to the best of your ability, and we do understand that some of the responses may be best guesses. And again, your answers in the statistics section will not be used to assess your PASJ application.
That covers our introduction to the PASJ application in NEFA's online grants portal. If you have any questions, please visit the PASJ Grant page at www.nefa.org/CreateSpatialJustice for more information, like application deadlines, office hours sign up, and registering for virtual information sessions.
You should also check out the other videos in the series that focus on an introduction to the criteria and priorities for PASJ and a deeper dive into the narrative questions on the application. And you can always email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks for watching.
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