Artists At Work (AAW) is a workforce resilience program designed to support the rebuilding of healthy communities through artistic civic engagement. Conceived as a public/private partnership, the program will provide a salary, plus full health benefits and professional development resources directly to participating artists; provide financial support to participating local cultural organizations; and connect both to the work of local social impact initiatives in areas such as antiracism, justice reform, sustainability and equitable development, health, economy, homelessness and housing, child welfare, and immigration. It is designed to impact the whole ecosystem of a community.
Mississippi Center for Cultural Production (Sipp Culture) and the OFFICE worked closely together to elect a consortium of five Culture Hubs that span a broad range of artistic disciplines and reflect the region’s vast cultural diversity. They and the artists and social impact initiatives with which they will work are listed below.
- Ashé Cultural Arts Center, in New Orleans, LA: Charm Taylor, with Power Coalition, and Simone Immanuel, with The Alliance for Cultural Equity;
- Delta Commons Group, in Clarksdale, MS: JJ Johnson, with Griot Arts, and Lisa Hicks-Gilbert, with Lee Street Community Center;
- Historic Clayborn Temple, in Memphis, TN: Alicia Ester, with partner TBA, and Writeous Soul, with Depot Communities United;
- McElroy House, in Dardanelle, AR: Alex Ellis and Esmeralda Flores, with River Valley Adult Learning Alliance;
- Sipp Culture, in Utica, MS: Monica Hill, with the Utica Institute Museum, and daniel johnson, with Jackson-Hinds Comprehensive Health Center.
Monica Hill is a multifaceted artist that grew up in South Jackson, MS, in the performing arts. Her work aims to reflect human experience, bring comfort, push her personal boundaries, and invoke dialect. She wants to bring awareness to how art can translate into healing—just as it has done for her.
daniel johnson is a multi-disciplinary artist, public historian, and dad working in community in the Southeast. Focused on agency, equity, and the formation of agreements, johnson’s artistic process is rooted in the unfolding, intersecting stories of everyday life. Through deep listening, reflections on belonging, and facilitated community storytelling, johnson works with groups of people to harness their unique cultural expressions in a co-design process to disrupt power dynamics and realize shared intentions. johnson believes that the communicative, connective power of culture provides the most powerful tools for forming affinity and focusing energies toward practical impacts for everyday life. He currently serves as the Board Secretary for both Alternate ROOTS and Sipp Culture. His work has been featured by PolicyLink, Center for the Future of Museums, Georgetown University’s Gnovis journal, the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco Community Development Innovation Review, and Mississippi Today.
Alongside—and simultaneously with—its work in the Delta, THE OFFICE has joined forces with ArtsBuild, which will serve as the Culture Hub, and the Lyndhurst Foundation, which has provided funding, to undertake an Artists At Work project focused on climate resilience in the Thrive Region, comprised of 16 counties across northeast Alabama, northwest Georgia, and southeast Tennessee. ArtsBuild will host five artists, each in collaboration with a social impact initiative. The artists and social impact initiatives are Juno (aka Tanqueray Harper), working with Creative Arts Guild; Mary Barnett, working with Sequatchie Cove Farm; Monica Alicia Ellison, working with Thrive Regional Partnership (Thrive); 2$0N The Prince, working with The Trust for Public Land; and Robert Winslow, working with green|spaces.