NASAA Notes: January 2023


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Pam Breaux

January issue
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January 3, 2023

Puerto Rico Welcomed to Mid Atlantic Arts Region

Last month, I was invited to speak at the signing of the partnership memorandum of understanding between the Institute of Puerto Rican Culture and Mid Atlantic Arts, one of the nation’s six regional arts organizations. The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) hosted the official event in Washington, D.C.

It’s an honor to be here today in celebration of Puerto Rico, and of course, specifically for the partnership agreement being signed by the Institute of Puerto Rican Culture [ICP] and Mid Atlantic Arts.

This is an especially sweet moment for me because I just returned from my very first trip to Puerto Rico. I was privileged to spend last week receiving a firsthand glimpse of the arts and cultural gifts Puerto Ricans share with each other and then with the world. I spent my first day (a very full day!) with ICP Executive Director Carlos Ruíz Cortés and with Freddy Vélez García, Isabel Rosa Irizarry and the team at ICP. They organized an incredible experience that personified how they and partner institutions lift up and empower the arts in service to communities.

They showed me institutions that are physically still coming back from Hurricane María. I emphasize the physical because the buildings themselves are still coming back, but the folks who program those buildings never stopped serving the people. They never stopped creating opportunities for the arts to be of service and relevant to the people of the island. Certainly and necessarily after the hurricane, there were first responders saving lives. Not long after, the arts community served as second responders, affirming life and connecting community when the people needed those life affirming connections most.

As the team led me through a remarkable day, they emphasized recovery, and they emphasized opportunities to come, squarely focused on the future. I witnessed their commitment to community as staff members shared new engagement strategies. I witnessed their commitment to inclusive excellence as they showed me how they’re expanding the artistic canon, making Puerto Rico’s national art collection better reflect artists young and old from all communities and walks of life. Just as importantly, I witnessed the Institute team’s passion for arts service; every story they shared epitomized the energy and engagement they employ in service to the people.

During the next couple of days, I had the opportunity to visit artists, culture bearers and smaller organizations as part of the Grantmakers in the Arts board of directors meeting. I couldn’t have asked for better synergy during my visit. Conversations with artists and organizations affirmed the impact of ICP. A visit to artist Daniel Lind-Ramoss studio was a soulful experience. What an amazing person and artist he is. Daniel is an African Puerto Rican painter and sculptor, and he’s been responding to the hurricane and to the pandemic through his art.

We shared quite a moment when I told Daniel that I had seen his work at ICP as part of the national collection. He raised his hand to his heart and said his inclusion in such an important collection and exhibition would not have been possible years ago. He and I spoke of ICP’s work to expand the canon and include today’s master artists from all walks of life. It meant so much to Daniel that the government of Puerto Rico recognized his work at the highest levels, placing his sculpture not only in the national exhibit, but in a position of fundamental importance within the exhibit. His work is exhibited across from and in dialogue with the work of José Campeche, the country’s undisputed first known and highly lauded Puerto Rican artist of the late 18th century.

Campeche and Daniel Lind-Ramos are now in dialogue as Puerto Rico’s master artists from the 18th century and today. Seeing this was a moving moment I’ll never forget. It’s also just one example of the deep impact of the work of Carlos and his team.

Today, I have so much to celebrate. First, I’m proud to celebrate the partnership between Mid Atlantic Arts and the Institute of Puerto Rican Culture. Second, today also marks the moment that all island jurisdictions now enjoy regional partnerships. The island jurisdictions bring an abundance of creative and cultural gifts to these partnerships and to the entire country, and I know that Mid Atlantic Arts and the entire regional network will bring important connections and opportunities to the islands.

I want to share my thanks to the regional arts organizations and the island jurisdictions for the gainful discussions that made today possible. We began those conversations at NASAA’s Leadership Institute in Providence, Rhode Island, in 2019. A special thanks goes to the NEA’s team; they were at the table from the beginning: thank you to Mike Orlove, Lara Holman Garritano and Andi Mathis for seeing this work though.

Most importantly today, congratulations to Puerto Rico and Mid Atlantic Arts!

In this Issue

From the President and CEO

State to State

Legislative Update

The Research Digest

Announcements and Resources

More Notes from NASAA




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