TRURO – Are we in a moment of voluntary inclusion, of recognition of diversity, with an understanding of the need for equity?
“This emerging generation has something to say, and we need to make it easier for them to say it,” said Jamal Thorne, artist residency mentor and summer professor at the Truro Center for the Arts at Castle Hill.
The arts center announced an artist residency and fellowship program with Morgan State University in Baltimore, Maryland. The program is made possible by a donation of $ 100,000 to the Nancy and Al Osborne Arts Center. The Osborne family approached the arts center with the challenge of partnering with a historically black college or university.
About 80% of Morgan State’s current student body, founded in 1867, identify as Black. The majority of students are residents of Maryland and 61% are women, according to the university’s website.
Commitment to diversity
The Truro Arts Center issued a statement on the need for change.
“George Floyd was assassinated over a year ago and it looks like the world has changed seismically since then,” the centre’s board and staff said in a statement earlier this year.
The arts centre’s board and staff “look forward to this moment of historic change and the opportunity it offers to examine us and make the changes necessary to create an arts community that embraces, serves and nurtures black, Asian, Latin X artists and all native artists, ”the statement said.
In the outermost towns of Cape Cod, other initiatives to improve diversity, equity and inclusion are also advancing. The City of Provincetown is in the process of creating a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Office with an 11-step roadmap that was discussed with the Board of Directors on November 8.
The Fine Arts Works Center in Provincetown has also undergone a diversity policy review and training, and a diversity, equity and inclusion committee has been established, according to the executive director. Sharon Polli in July.
“It’s a way to bring more people of color to Castle Hill and enrich what we do,” Executive Artistic Director Cherie Mittenthal said of the new program.
Mittenthal grew up in Connecticut and worked in Hartford for 25 years. “What’s most difficult about being here is the lack of diversity,” Mittenthal said.
Diversity committee formed
In June 2020, board member Sarah Lutz was asked if she would be willing to co-chair a committee on diversity, equity, inclusion and access, she said. Then a consultant was found.
“We organized and facilitated a general training which took place over the course of a few afternoons with an outside consultant,” said Lutz.
The committee started out with just a few members, but quickly grew.
“A surprising number of people were interested,” said Lutz. “I think a lot of people, especially white people, wanted to have conversations and find out about what was going on in the world.”
The committee currently has ten members. The residency and scholarship program with Morgan State is one of the committee’s initiatives.
Thorne lends a hand
Thorne, a Maryland-born artist who lives in Boston, taught large-format drawing classes at the arts center during the summer and was asked to help.
“It is my obligation to guide the next generation of artist graduates from the black-owned institution that shaped me as an artist,” said Thorne, a Morgan State graduate. “It’s my job to provide them with the knowledge and tools they will need to get things done in the larger African American artist community. ”
As a summer instructor, Thorne befriended young black artists.
The new residency and scholarship program offers him the opportunity to continue to share his acquired experiences. “It is a point of pride to offer studio tours, concept advice, personal experiences, stories and honesty during these residency weeks,” said Thorne.
The new program is designed and will be jointly managed by Thorne, teaching professor and media arts coordinator at Northeastern University in Boston, and Eric Briscoe, art professor and visual arts coordinator at Morgan State.
What is the program ?
“I would describe this residency as a space for budding artists to reflect through the prism of their personal studio practices,” Thorne said.
The artist residency program will begin next spring with two or three students for the spring session, and the same for the fall. The residency is free for artists and comes with a small stipend and transportation, Mittenthal said. The artists will be college or senior, or just graduated. Residences last two weeks, and at the center’s Edgewood Farm, each resident will receive a private room, studio, and access to all center facilities and supplies.