To some art can be a powerful weapon to spark discussions that shines light on social issues. Arts Connect International helps promote that conversation by empowering artists who ignite innovative solutions to social justice issues.
The main mission of Arts Connect International (ACI) is to build equity and inclusion through the arts by collaborating with non-profits to fund inclusive programs to showcase diverse voices.
“Artists are a vehicle for social change and social justice to be enacted and to take place,” said Marian Taylor Brown, executive director of ACI.
Taylor Brown said the organization supports artists so they can express their voice to more of the public as a catalyst for awareness to a variety of issues specific to their own story.
ACI conducted a study to examine the cultural equity gap in the contemporary art world. Through the survey, the organization found that “91 percent of the participants who work in the art field say there is a cultural equity gap in the contemporary art world in America.”
“We’re big on calling for reformation, not only how art is valued on an economic standpoint but from a cultural standpoint, and whose voice and narrative and story can be told and empowered through the creative execution and examination of art,” said Taylor Brown.
One of the organizations that partners with ACI BalletRox, a nonprofit dance organization. Carol Knox, executive director at BalletRox, pointed to two productions that were choreographed by some of the students. One dealt with the difficulties of being bullied and the other was on the challenges of being the children of immigrants.
“That’s what dance is for them, an outlet for issues they’re grappling with,” said Knox.
These types of programs allow people to see each other thriving, according to Taylor Brown. She said people who come from traditionally marginalized communities, don’t see themselves represented in the arts.
“There’s a ton of leadership studies to the difficulties of entering into a field if you don’t see yourself represented in that space,” she said.
Inversely when people see themselves in positions they can start to visually see that they can attain success.
“We see ourselves as an equity incubator so we’re working towards creative justice and recognizing … that it takes a coordinated effort across the entire community. Our mission is not one that a single organization can do,” said Taylor Brown.