What role are you playing?

Many people are struggling right now. Nationwide protests against the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis have left many of us feeling angry, exhausted, and sad. Experiencing this amid the catastrophic disruptions to our creative ecosystem by COVID-19 may feel overwhelming. 

That is why we’re writing to you today. Artists and creatives have always played a role in moving cultures forward and interpreting our individual and collective experiences with the world. We all have a role to play in building a more vibrant, connected, and equitable community. 


Artists and Healing

Artists and creatives know how to use art to express conflicting emotions at once—anger, sadness, fear—in a way that can help us make sense of tragedy and injustice.

Last week, Minneapolis artists Xena Goldman, Greta McLain, and Cadex Herrera painted a mural on the outside of the convenience store Cup Foods at 38th & Chicago. It’s where George Floyd died after a white police officer, who has since been charged with murder, knelt on Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes until Floyd stopped breathing. Video of the violence sparked rebellion and protest across the country this past weekend. 

Read more about the George Floyd memorial in the CityPages and StarTribune


A role for each of us

There’s a role for each of us in rebuilding the world we inherited. What role will you and yours play?

‘Mapping Our Roles in Social Change Ecosystems’ is a framework and reflection guide, created by Deepa Iyer of Solidarity Is and Building Movement Project, to help individuals, organizations, and networks figure out their roles in pursuit of equity, shared liberation, inclusion, and justice.

On this chart, MASSCreative is a builder. That means we “develop, organize, and implement ideas, practices, people, and resources in service of a collection vision.” We often lean on the great playwright Tony Kushner to remind us why we’re here: “I am here to organize. I am here to be political. I am here to be a citizen in a pluralist democracy. I am here to be effective, to have agency, to make a claim on power, to spread it around, to rearrange it, to democratize it, to legislate it into justice. Why you? Because the world will end if you don’t act.”

Read more about Mapping our Social Change Roles in Times of Crisis


What you can do

Never_Going_Back_Guide.pngIn the arts & culture community, we have reached a moment where going back to normal is not enough. We need to use this opportunity as a catalyst for change and take action to build a more equitable, just future. Here are some resources that we'd like to share with you.


Talking About Race, from National Museum of African American History and Culture 

Talk about race with children.

Chalk the Walk, from Wee the People, a collaboration among the Philly Children’s Movement, MassArt's Center for Art and Community Partnerships, and Books for Littles: Raising Luminaries Kidlit

Use your art as your activism.

No Going Back: A COVID-19 Cultural Strategy Activation Guide, from The Center for Cultural Power

Engage and Donate.

Find the people and the organizations that speak to the role you want to play in the social change ecosystem. Follow them on social media, sign up for their action alerts, and engage in their activities. If you’re able, consider a donation in any amount to support their work.


Arts Education: What you can do

The structural weaknesses in our school and justice systems have come into stark contrast because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Arts education has long been a space where young people develop emotional, social and cognitive skills that better support overall development. In this unprecedented moment of a global health pandemic, access to arts education is critical for all students, regardless of zip code.

Right now, the MA Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) and its Return-to-School Working Group are developing a K-12 summer and fall restart and recovery plan. Last week, the town of Brookline notified just over 300 district educators that they may not have jobs to return to next fall, including the district's librarians, art teachers, world language and physical education teachers.

DESE needs to hear from parents, teachers, and students that dedicated time for arts education is an important part of the school day, whether students are learning remotely at home or back at school in the fall.

Take action to advocate for arts education during COVID-19


Virtual Policy & Action Updates

Every Friday from 9:45-10am, the MASSCreative team hosts our COVID-19 Virtual Policy & Action Updates. These 15-minute updates are meant to provide you with what you need to know about COVID-19 policy advocacy and actions you can take to support the creative community. On Friday June 5, we will depart from our usual format and use Deepa Iyer's "Mapping Our Social Change Roles" to help members of the creative community reflect on the roles they play in the social change ecosystem.

Check out MASSCreative’s May 29 Policy & Action Update

Register for MASSCreative’s June 5 Policy & Action Update


Thank you to artists, arts organizations, culture workers, and creatives for playing many roles in the social change ecosystem. We need you and appreciate you.

If you’re looking for more COVID-19 resources, you can check out MASSCreative’s COVID-19 pages, including updatesresourcesadvocacypolicy recommendations, and policy & action updates.

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