Create the Vote (CTV) Fellowship Retreat

During the weekend of February 12th and 13th, MASSCreative hosted the Create the Vote (CTV) Fellowship at Essex Woods Meeting and Retreat Center. The retreat started a yearlong journey for the Fellows to develop their grassroots organizing knowledge and strengthen their professional network through sharing, learning, networking and mentorship, with the goal of co-designing a strategy to strengthen and support local and regional networks of arts and cultural advocates. The retreat was co-developed and co-led by Marian Taylor Brown, Co-Director of Collective Abundance at Arts Connective International

The nine CTV fellows and MASSCreative staff kicked off Day one of the retreat Saturday morning at 10:00am. Fellows joined from their geographically different locations in Massachusetts. Fellows came from places like Boston to Fitchburg to New Bedford to join in community with each other and engage in thought partnership. Throughout the day, the CTV fellows and MASSCreative staff joined together for workshops that dove into shared learning practices and advocacy 101. MASSCreative Executive Director, Emily Ruddock, directed a workshop that gave transparency to how as an arts and cultural leader to engage in policy work and she also explained the workings of the legislative cycle of the Massachusetts government. Many of the Fellows remarked how walking through the legislative process helped them rethink their own personal civic engagement as well as how to include it in their Create the Vote MA organizing plans.  

In addition to diving into educational workshops, the Fellows had the opportunity to connect informally with each other through fun activities. Such activities included exploring nature, sharing their creative and artistic talents and roasting s’mores. These casual activities allowed fellows to build rapport outside the development of their individual plans for advocacy work. 

On the second day of the retreat, sessions focused on the multiple and intersectional identities that we all hold. MASSCreative’s Director of Engagement and Organizing, Tri Vi Quach, led exercises to teach theories of Justice. As community organizers, each Fellow will convene diverse artists, culture bearers and arts supporters. By rooting shared organizing efforts in a justice framework, Create the Vote Fellows will ensure the arts and cultural advocacy they co-create in Massachusetts is focused on increasing resources for the entire creative community, strengthening a more diverse sector and addressing historic underinvestment in global majority cultures, communities and populations.  

During lunch, Fellows welcomed Arts and Culture sector leaders like Michael J Bobbit, Executive Director of the Mass Cultural Council, Catherine Morris, Founder of BAMS Fest and Director of Arts + Culture for the Boston Foundation, and Harold Steward, Executive Director and Cultural Strategist of The Theater Offensive and MASSCreative Board member. After joining together for informal conversation and community building, the Fellows heard from each leader on the need for increased, inclusive and equitable advocacy for the arts and cultural community in Massachusetts.  

The retreat concluded on plenty of good vibes, dedication to the work ahead and a stronger sense of community among the Create the Vote Fellow Cohort.The Create the Vote Fellowship retreat makes a great step towards progress for building a community of support for the Fellows. MASSCreative is hopeful for the amazing work in the months to come.




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