Con·necting for Change in the Boulder County Arts Landscape

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By Lisa Schwartz

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The upcoming Con·nect event on April 14, at the Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art (BMoCA), aims to engage members of predominantly white arts organizations and local BIPOC artists and arts organizations with this question: How do we support diversity, equity, access, inclusion, and fundamental change within the arts landscape of Boulder County? 

Con·nect is a series of free bi-monthly gatherings designed to amplify BIPOC artists and to strengthen relationships and partnerships among BIPOC artists and arts organizations in Boulder County. The event on April 14 features dance and theater performances by Jesus Munoz, CU Dance MFA candidate, and undergraduate theater students Rodrigo Gallardo-Antunez, Tanis Joaquin Gonzales and Nick Galvez (see program and contact info for these artists and the initiative below). The first event in February featured founding members of Creative Nations, who shared their experiences and plans for Boulder’s first collective and permanent onsite establishment of Indigenous Artists at the Dairy Art Center. 

”BMoCA is thrilled to be able to host this iteration of the Con·nect series. We look forward to showcasing the work of these featured artists and are excited to facilitate connections in the community,” said Gwen Burak, Deputy Director of BMoCA.

The series is co-organized by the Antiracism Action in the Arts Initiative, and also supports the parallel development of a BIPOC artist directory. A shared goal of the initiative is to shift the sociocultural and economic landscape of Boulder County and include BIPOC artists and arts organizations in opportunities to grow and thrive in the region. 

Melissa Fathman, executive director of Dairy Arts Center shared, “I was profoundly inspired by my Antiracism Action in the Arts colleagues to make the most of my current leadership role by digging deeper and going further.  As one colleague said, ‘let’s double down.’ Let’s create as many meaningful opportunities for BIPOC artists and leaders as we can within our creative community. From those early conversations, sprung forth the concept to make room for a dedicated, permanent space at the Dairy for Indigenous artists to create and represent. It’s more than land recognition—it’s about recognizing people and what they want to share.”

The Antiracism Action in the Arts Initiative has evolved from a study group started by the CU Boulder Office for Outreach and Engagement and Boulder County Arts Alliance. We meet monthly to provide support and constructive criticism for our work. Currently, our members include representatives from local arts organizations that, apart from KGNU, are historically white. These organizations include: Boulder County Arts Alliance, Dairy Arts Center, Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art, Jewish Community Center, KGNU, Longmont Museum, CU Boulder Office for Outreach and Engagement, CU Theatre and Dance, CU Art Museum and ATLAS B2 Center for Media, Arts & Performance. We are committed to working together for antiracist praxis—both action and reflection.

Prior to launching Con·nect in the spring of 2021 the initiative held two workshops on DEI Dialogues in the Arts; one about staffing and one about programming. The programming workshop spurred conversation about the potential for a BIPOC artist directory. In July 2021 an exploratory conversation was held with a small group of established and more junior BIPOC artists about the potential of the directory. Through this conversation, the idea of having an event series in partnership with the directory was identified as important for potential relationship development and opportunity.

Currently, the Antiracism Action in the Arts Initiative is working to connect more deeply with local arts organizations to support this endeavor. Please get involved by joining us on April 14 at BMoCA. Our subsequent event will be in June 2022. 

Program and contact information for April 14 event featured artists

Jesus Munoz: jesus-munoz.com, Jesus.Munoz@colorado.edu
Performance of original work by Jesus Munoz: Una Araña en la Pared, with music “Son XXI” by Gonzalo Rubalcaba

Rodrigo Gallardo-Antunez, Tanis Joaquin Gonzales and Nick Galvez: Contact Rodrigo Gallargo, rod.gallardo7@gmail.com 
Performance reading of excerpts from 72 MILES TO GO… by Hilary Bettis.

Contact Lisa Schwartz at lisa.h.schwartz@colorado.edu for more information about the Antiracism Action in the Arts Initiative.