MASSCreative Leadership Council Profile: Peter DiMuro

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Dance adds the spice to life 

How does the art of dance help us to become better citizens of the world? It’s as simple as any lesson we learned in kindergarten, says Peter DiMuro.

“At its most fundamental level, dance teaches us how to get along with others. It teaches us when to lead, when to follow, and how to take turns,” DiMuro, the executive director of the Dance Complex in Cambridge, says. “It shows us that we can lean on someone and we can also take someone else’s weight. No matter who you are or where you come from, these are universal lessons that help you to be successful.”

The universality of dance is abundantly evident in the Dance Complex’s diverse roster of dance classes and teaching artists. To name just a few: Lamine Touré, a native of Senegal, teaches African dance. Ramón de los Reyes, who teaches Flamenco, is a native of Madrid. Carl Alleyne, a native Bostonian, teaches hip-hop. Olivier Besson, who hails from France, teaches improvisional dance. “It’s like a mini united nations of dance,” says DiMuro.

In all, more than two dozen genres of dance (even burlesque!) are taught at this Central Square institution to more than 1400 students per week―children, seniors, hobbyists, and pre-professional and professional dancers. “It is a safe environment for anyone of any skill level to come and try new things,” DiMuro.

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Welcome Kippy Rudy, MASSCreative’s new Deputy Director!

 

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MASSCreative’s team just got a little bigger. The staff is excited to welcome Kippy Rudy, the new Deputy Director! Kippy will coordinate the fundraising and operations for the organization, and brings her experiences to MASSCreative to help build a stronger, more sustainable infrastructure to support its mission. 

“Kippy is a seasoned advocate for the arts with extensive experience running fundraising campaigns and building innovative and creative partnerships,” said Matt Wilson, executive director of MASSCreative.

Over the years Kippy has held leadership positions in marketing and development, leading campaigns raising more than $10 million at Portland Stage Company, Portland Museum of Art, and most recently the Bowdoin International Music Festival. She has also been an executive director for an opera company and an alternative music venue, as well as with VSA arts of Maine, a statewide arts and disability advocacy organization affiliated with the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. At VSA she managed a staff of nine and led a network serving 700 artists, regularly lobbying at the state and federal level for increased funding for arts education, standards-based arts education, and increased accessibility to the arts. 

Rudy said, “Massachusetts is home to a vibrant and talented community of artists and organizations that deserve strong, statewide representation. As a visual artist who has built a career around advocating for the arts, I am excited to join MASSCreative as it seeks to build connection and expand the benefits of creative expression to everyone in the Commonwealth.”

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Our advocacy moves to the Senate 

The past month has put arts advocates to the test. On April 13, when the House Ways and Means Committee proposed a shocking 28% cut to arts funding, the creative community made some noise and contacted their legislators. These constituent voices convinced 104 state representatives to sign on to Rep. Atkins’ amendment that would increase funding for Mass Cultural Council (MCC) to $17 million.

Despite this strong showing of support for an increase, the House voted to pass an amendment that would fund MCC at $12 million – still a $2 million cut to the previous year’s funding.

But our work isn’t done yet. Very soon, the Senate Ways & Means Committee will come out with its own version of the state budget, and possibly a new number for MCC. We need to be ready to contact our state senators about supporting an increase in state investment in arts and culture. Stay tuned for the next call to action. 

Thank you to the co-sponsors on House Budget Amendment #344 for the MCC, and we look forward to further advocacy in the state budget process.

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Young artists, powerful advocates 

On Friday, April 22, 10 youth arts groups came together for the second Youth Arts Action Retreat. The result: young artists are owning their roles as advocates.

In a workshop led by Vanessa Snow of Hyde Square Task Force and Corey Depina of Zumix, youth participants learned about the local power dynamics in their neighborhoods and communities. Through several creative exercises, youth learned how to tap into those power dynamics and how to better convince decision-makers to side with young people on important issues. Taking it from theory to practice, youth then drew up power-maps for local decision-makers, exploring what influencers would move elected officials to provide more opportunities for arts education for young people. By the end of the session, the confidence in the room swelled, and youth were ready to assert their own power in asking for what they need from their communities.

In the last session, the group of youth arts advocates learned about telling three stories for social change: the story of self, of us, and of now. Beyond the retreat, youth were encouraged to use their newfound storytelling skills to not only promote the work in their communities and arts organizations, but to use their art for social change.

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[photo: Americans for the Arts]

An Opening for Arts Education?

New Federal Law Provides Opportunity for Massachusetts to Prioritize Arts Education

Arts education—dance, media arts, music, theatre/drama, visual arts—is a necessary component for the development of the “whole child,” enabling each individual to become a productive, creative, and innovative member of society. Equal access to high quality, sequential arts education is essential to developing important 21st-century skills and will allow our Commonwealth to regain and maintain a competitive economic edge globally by exporting creative ideas and products. Arts education is also an important tool to promote the social and emotional learning of students.

Currently arts education in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts is not equally accessible to all children. For many, education reform in the early 90s put an emphasis on traditional academic subjects and testing, often leaving behind arts education as a second subject. While some districts have rich, sequential and regular arts learning in every grade, others have limited or no arts learning. For many state and municipal school administrators, arts education is nice but not necessary.

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#ArtsMatterChat revs up conversation on arts funding

The arts community is hungry for a conversation about funding, and last month’s Twitter Chat proved it. Nearly 300 Twitter users added their voice, tweeting 1,600 times and causing the hashtag #ArtsMatterChat to go viral and trend nationally.

Led by a strong group of arts leaders, the online conversation provided valuable expertise and resources for artists, arts educators, and institutions.

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Boston hosts nation’s arts leaders for Americans for the Arts Convention

From June 17 to June 19, Boston takes center stage for the Americans for the Arts 2016 Convention. Each year, this annual meeting of the minds for the arts community brings together the nation’s arts leaders for three days of sessions, discussion, and networking. And this year, hosting the convention in Boston will help bring national attention to the vibrant work happening here.

With this spotlight on the Boston arts community, Boston Chief of Arts & Culture Julie Burros and Mayor Walsh will unveil the much-anticipated Boston Creates Cultural Plan. The timing couldn’t be better for the City to share how government can address citywide issues and build a more healthy, vibrant, and equitable arts community. MASSCreative looks forward to seeing how government support and public funding will play a role in shaping the future of Boston’s arts and culture.

When our national peers come to Boston in June, let’s make sure Boston in well represented. Check out more information on the Convention and consider registering today.

 

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Welcome New Members! 

Shout out to the organizations that just joined MASSCreative to support arts advocacy in Massachusetts. Thanks for all you do to build healthy, vibrant, and equitable communities through arts and culture.

Ballet Rox Easthampton City Arts +
USS Constitution Museum Young Audiences of Massachusetts

 

Check out all of our Member Organizations here. 

  

 

 

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