Wednesday, February 4, 2009
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REACHING UNDERSERVED COMMUNITIES
Black Belt Arts Initiative
Alabama State Council on the Arts
The Black Belt region of Alabama, named for the rich topsoil that covers the region, is comprised of 13 counties spanning the middle of the state. Black Belt communities played an important role in the Civil Rights Movement. Selma, in the heart of the Black Belt, was chosen by African American civil rights leaders as the site from which to launch the march on Montgomery. Today the region is plagued with severe economic, health, housing and education issues and has experienced declining populations.
The Black Belt Arts Initiative (BBAI) was developed in response to the governor's Black Belt Action Commission's call for state action in the region. The BBAI is a partnership between the Alabama State Council on the Arts (ASCA), the Black Belt Community Foundation (BBCF) and the Black Belt Action Commission's Culture and Youth Committee. The goals of the initiative are to enhance arts offerings in the region, to strengthen arts education in Black Belt school districts, and to celebrate the cultural expressions of the region. These goals are accomplished through a regranting relationship between the ASCA and the BBCF, ASCA granting and technical assistance to schools in the region, and through annual special arts projects.
This year's special project is teaching children of the region how they can turn oral history and historical research into a dramatic presentation. After watching Ella Joyce, a celebrated African-American actress, perform her one-woman show about Rosa Parks, the school groups will conduct interviews and research about the civil rights icons of their communities and families. With the help of a drama consultant, they will take the collected oral histories and research and turn them into a dramatic presentation. For additional information, contact Alabama State Council on the Arts Deputy Director Barbara Edwards.
Arts Administrator Exchange Program
Arizona Commission on the Arts
In December 2008, the Arizona Commission on the Arts in conjunction with the Arizona-Mexico Commission and the Instituto Sonorense de Cultura offered an exchange program for seven arts and cultural administrators. In the first part of a two-part exchange, administrators from Tucson, Mesa, Phoenix, Glendale and Chandler met for five days with their counterparts in Sonora, Mexico. The goal of the experience was to provide participants networking, professional development and a cultural understanding of the work in Sonora. The experience gave the administrators tools to organize, plan and sustain their careers, as well as strengthen professional ties. The group visited local landmarks, theatres, galleries, the university, and museums and observed young people's classes in the arts. They were greeted at the governor's palace by Sonora Governor Eduardo Bours. Potential outcomes from the exchange include a tour of Borderlands Theatre from Tucson to Hermosillo and an exhibition of photographs from Mexican artists in Glendale. The Arizona participants will host their Sonoran counterparts in Tucson and Phoenix in the spring. For more information, contact Arizona Commission on the Arts Executive Director Bob Booker.
NASAA's information-sharing depends on your participation. What are your most successful current initiatives? Have you launched any great programs, policies, services or partnerships? We want to hear about them! Contact NASAA Policy and Program Associate Jesse Rye (202-347-6352 x118) and include your name, your agency, a brief description of your project and whom to contact to learn more about it.
NASAA works continuously to keep you abreast of the latest trends in the state arts agency field and let you know about innovative state arts agency programs. The State to State column provides a sampling of state programs, products and services for you to browse for information and inspiration. We are grateful to everyone who contributed to this column.