2021 Grantmakers in the Arts Convening

Welcome to the 2021 GIA Virtual Convening Blog! Grantmakers in the Arts is pleased to have Félix Jiménez and Tram Nguyen posting their comments and reactions beginning Monday, November 5. We hope you check here for those posts.

December 6, 2021 by Félix Jiménez

Freedom is - always has been - in jeopardy, as so patently signal the continuing cultural wars that are being so fiercely contested, so intensive and damning.

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December 1, 2021 by Félix Jiménez

"Art is an attempt to bring order to chaos," Stephen Sondheim once said. But the Puerto Rican radical theater group AgitArte has been acting on that premise for quite some time, disrupting, agitating with theater as their base.

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November 19, 2021 by Félix Jiménez

Walking with a camera, the images found provoke and confound ceaselessly. And catching and maintaining the look and sound of an image has been a gift for Beatriz Santiago Muñoz, for whom filming is life enhanced.

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November 17, 2021 by Félix Jiménez

Art needs to be talked about. Discussed. Verbalized. Felt through words. Mareia Quintero Rivera stresses that the joy and complexity of cultural production, and of the need to catalogue and study the framework and infrastructure of art in Puerto Rico, should be - must be - addressed and seriously covered in the media in Puerto Rico.

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November 14, 2021 by Félix Jiménez

Nono never imagined that name would cross seas and languages, and that the beloved granddaughters - mapenzi and mulowayi - would forever espouse this unconditional surrender to the familial.

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November 13, 2021 by Félix Jiménez

From the images of a crowd attending a show at a soon-to-be-closed Rio Piedras movie theater to the photographs of drowning Puerto Ricans, scholar Frances Negron-Muntaner probes the uncomfortable  definitions of the end of an era and of the start of another in troubled times.

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November 13, 2021 by Tram Nguyen

This session spoke to me deeply from my own experience deployed this year in my local public health department’s Covid-19 vaccination campaign. Whether it was being yelled at by angry people during the early days of limited supply and restricted eligibility, the unrelenting and thankless demands of countering disinformation and overcoming distrust, the highs of contributing to saving lives, the lows of confronting your own personal and institutional shortcomings, and the destructive self and interpersonal dynamics that can emerge under extreme stress…I got a small taste of the demands facing healthcare providers, demands that were heightened by the Covid crisis.

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November 12, 2021 by Tram Nguyen

Two things jumped out at me the most from this workshop. The first was the set of sharp and wise recommendations for guiding organizational change and sectoral change during uncertain times from the ArtsEd Response Collective, which was convened by Ingenuity to address the immediate challenges of COVID-19 and the police murders of Black people. And the second was the deeper dive into dance as an educational tool uniquely well-suited for engaging children and youth around issues of anti-racism and racial justice.

The ARC Final Report presents a plethora of resources for arts educators and organizations, schools, and equity practitioners in adapting and innovating new strategies and best practices that are responsive to the challenges of remote learning and pandemic conditions. The report lifts up what I think is one of the most important principles for any sector during these times of rapid change and volatility—to commit to open source knowledge sharing and learning, which is part of recognizing that we must engage in building anew and that “experimentation is now a part of the new operating norms for every industry…in order to do important work in an uncertain landscape.”

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November 12, 2021 by Tram Nguyen

Community-based art from my vantage point sounds a lot like community organizing.

The projects described by artists Chemi Rosado Seijo, Jesús ‘Bubu’ Negrón, and Edgardo Larregui make me think of the possibilities that emerge at the edges between creative disciplines, in service and collaboration with communities. These art projects were incubated by professional artists in dynamic partnership with residents, democratizing the arts among marginalized communities, uplifting and nourishing community life, and sparking the possibility for new solutions small and large.

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November 11, 2021 by Tram Nguyen

I love traditional and folk art for its intimacy. My most treasured art, the only ones I have in my home, are a pair of Oaxacan tapestries I bought from a family of Indigenous weavers in the village of Teotitlan del Valle. We sat together in their home—which was also their workroom with wooden looms and stone mortars and pestles for grinding indigo and cochineal dyes—and spoke of the symbolic meanings of designs representing the elements of earth, water, fire and water, and the cycle of birth and death. In house after house in this village, Zapotec families maintain their way of life and sustain their local economy with weaving and selling their art.

Years later, these tapestries adorn my altar and are beloved companions of my spiritual practice. They are an intimate, daily reminder of the connective power of cultural and traditional arts. As Maribel Alvarez said, these are “practices, rituals, and ordinary overlooked aesthetics that have to do at the end of the day with living in beauty.”

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