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Program Officer, Public Art

Folks who are interested in applying for either Collective Imagination for Spatial Justice or Public Art for Spatial Justice Grants please watch the short webinar (above).
 

Webinar Transcript

Kim: I’m Kim Szeto, Program Director for Public Art here at the New England Foundation for the arts and my pronouns are she/her.

Kamaria: I’m Kamaria Carrington, Program Coordinator for Public Art here at NEFA, and my pronouns are they/them. And I’d like to acknowledge that we are recording this webinar from the traditional lands of the Massachuset, Nipmuc, and Wampanoag peoples.

Kim: This webinar provides a brief introduction to:

  • Our Public Art values
  • Why we are talking about spatial justice in these public art opportunities
  • What is the difference between our two spatial justice grant opportunities: Collective Imagination for Spatial Justice (also referred to as C-I-S-J) and Public Art for Spatial Justice (also known as P-A-S-J)

We hope this webinar gives you a sense of who and what are we aiming to fund through these programs. So if you are interested in applying, or simply curious about our Collective Imagination for Spatial Justice or Public Art for Spatial Justice grants, this webinar is a great place to start! We hope this webinar will help you to discern if these grants may be the right fit for you and your creative practice at this particular moment in time.

Kamaria: I also want to note: This webinar will not be a comprehensive overview of the Eligibility Criteria, Funding Criteria and Priorities, or Application requirements etc. And we strongly encourage you to check out the respective grant pages for more details:

Kim: NEFA’s public art programs are just a slice of our work here at NEFA.  We are supporting the field of public art through grantmaking and field-building collaborations. At the core of our work is the belief that:

  • Public art has the power to shift public culture and change the future. 
  • That diverse cultural and artistic expressions of Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) are essential to more equitable and vibrant public spaces.
  • And, that context is important in public artmaking.

As we envision more just, equitable and vibrant possibilities for our public spaces, we see public art being an integral part of the change we want to see. If you want to learn more about other aspects of our public art programs, you can visit the Public Art Program Page. But the rest of this webinar will focus on two of our grant opportunities:

  • Collective Imagination for Spatial Justice, and
  • Public Art for Spatial Justice

Kamaria: So, what is spatial justice? Our colleagues at the Design Studio for Social Intervention (DS4SI) 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 the right to be, thrive, express and/or connect in public space - and who doesn’t?  

The deaths of George Floyd and Duante Wright and too many others as well as the rise in violence against Asian Americans over this past year 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 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 and/or presentation of the artmaking. If you’d like to learn more here are a few resources from our colleagues at the Design Studio. This isn't an exhaustive list by any means! But a good place to start.  

So, what is the difference between Collective Imagination for Spatial Justice (CISJ) and Public Art for Spatial Justice (PASJ)? To start, what is similar about these programs other than having Spatial Justice in their names? Both grants are centering Massachusetts artists and creatives, and prioritize leadership and vision from artists who identify as Black, Indigenous, people of color who are embodying an understanding of their relationship to place and that context is important to public artmaking, As we like to say, public spaces are not neutral and the public art we make in public space is not neutral either.

Kim: Collective Imagination for Spatial Justice supports collective imagination teams reimaging public art through spatial justice lens. 

We acknowledge that the work of imagination is a journey. Before creating public art, we want to encourage artists, activists, space-keepers, and community members to come together and do the necessary work of imagining more just futures for our public spaces and public culture. What does justice look, feel, sound, and smell like in your community’s public spaces?

We hope that Collective Imagination for Spatial Justice can support this imagination work without the pressure at the application stage of already knowing what might come from this journey together. 

CISJ grants range from $2,000 to $5,000. This is not a project grant, it is money to reimagine what public art can be in your community in Massachusetts – and we are encouraging artists to do the work of imagination with others in your community!

Kamaria: And, Public Art for Spatial Justice is project grant. Starting in the Fall of 2021, grants for PASJ will range from $5,000 to $15,000. As we want to be sure that artists are honoring their time and their collaborators in these projects, we are deciding to increase the maximum grant amount. PASJ supports Massachusetts artists and artistic collaborations to create public art in Massachusetts that fosters public imagination and contributes to more just futures for our public spaces and public culture.

You might be saying, “I’m still not sure which program to apply to…” A good question to ask is, “Where are you in your creative process?” Your answer might be, “I have this project idea brewing...”  PASJ is probably the direction you want to go. Use the application process to help flesh out your idea!

Kim: “I’m curious about..[this particular place, space, idea,…]”  If you are in that ideation phase, perhaps at a moment of exploration, where you are also asking what does justice look, feel, sound, and smell like in your community’s public spaces? And how does my artmaking practice relate to spatial justice in this particular space? CISJ may be the right opportunity for you!

Once again, we hope Collective Imagination for Spatial Justice grants support this imagination work without the pressure at the application stage of already knowing what might come from this journey together. We hope that CISJ will support teams of folks dreaming up public art that can help 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.  This work may look really different depending on your context!

Also, we want to note that CISJ and PASJ opportunities are not meant to be linear – meaning you don’t need to apply to CISJ to apply to PASJ. We recognize folks have been doing this work of reimagining and are ready to create public art that is contributing more just futures for our public spaces.

Kamaria: There’s a lot more information about eligibility, funding criteria and priorities, a preview of application questions and more on the respective grant pages. Please check the websites below for the next deadline:

And, you can always email us at publicart@nefa.org if you have any questions.

Kim: Thanks for watching this webinar! We hope you will visit our website for more info. Happy imagining!

 

Apply for Spatial Justice Grants by October 18, 2021

Need additional assistance? Sign up for office hours.

 

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