Arts and Agency Week Recorded Videos

Tuesday Apr 27th, 2021

recorded presentations

Erie Arts & Culture, in collaboration with the CHROMA Guild, hosted the first annual Arts + Agency Week, during April 11-17, 2021. During this week, artists, cultural organizations, and advocacy groups explored the ways the arts are being leveraged to raise awareness of systemic issues, amplify under-represented voices, and generate creative solutions to societal challenges. EAC hosted a total of 14 virtual presentations. The recorded videos will be located below for the next 30 days.

Thank you to all who streamed on Zoom and Facebook! Below you will find all of the recordings from the 14 presenters. Included under each video are key takeaways submitted by community members and EAC staff. Next year’s Arts and Agency week will take place April 2-9, 2022. We extend a special thank you to the Erie Community Foundation, which sponsored Arts and Agency Week through their Shaping Tomorrow grant program.

Please consider supporting next year's programming by making a charitable donation below:

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You’re invited: Virtual Community Debrief Session

Let’s discuss how to enact positive change in Erie!

May 6 at 6 PM on Zoom

Join EAC and our community for a conversation about the next steps. How do we go forth and create change with what we’ve learned? What are the challenges we face in our community and how can we use the arts and humanities to create change? What support do you need to make this change happen? Feel free to bring your ideas and takeaways to the virtual table!

Register here 


Jon Rubin of Conflict Kitchen

Community Takeaways: 

"Liked the open talk show concept to help get the community engaged. The entire conflict kitchen idea is superb - wish it could continue to help educate the public on other cultures! Most Americans don't understand these countries."

“People build relationships and understanding of one another through shared experiences. We can begin to see beyond our difference when we are provided opportunities to connect with one another and have meaningful interactions.”

Gideon Mendel

Community Takeaway: 

“One role of the artist in society is to document and preserve life in the present moment, as it is happening. Artworks can be particularly powerful tools in advocacy when documenting global crises, such as climate change, and the devastating impact such crises have on individuals, communities, and systems.”

“There is a fine line between exploiting human tragedy in an invasive way in the name of art versus approaching tragedy in an empathetic and sensitive way. Gideon approached his topics with an honest, people-centered approach that did not sensationalize the subject matter and told their story in a touching manner that sticks with the viewer.”

Elizabeth Monoian and Robert Ferry of Land Art Generator

Community Takeaways: 

 “The built environment can be designed in a way that takes into consideration both function and form. By integrating innovation and aesthetics into public infrastructure, municipalities can inspire awe while also generating solutions to some of the most pressing issues of the 21st century.”

"I am impressed that they have made a business out of their vision and bringing all the key elements together: design, energy tech, architectures and systems. So many of the art and the tech intersections were spectacular. My biggest Aha moment was when they showed an eyesore solar panel field site surrounded by barbed wire. Imagine the possibilities. "

Seitu Jones

Community Takeaways: 

“Artists preserve and pass down knowledge, tradition, and ritual that often has either unrecognized or under communicated value to a community or group of people. Artists are excellent culture bearers and truth speakers and can help amplify community voices and shared identities. Their public work can speak directly to the aspirations or anxieties of the community.”

Farooq Al-Said of 1Hood

Note: This session contains language that may not be suitable for all ages and centers around topics and issues that some viewers may find upsetting. Farooq Al-Said's expressed opinions and views are his and are formed in response to his lived experiences.

Community Takeaways: 

“Intersectionality is a way we can move beyond "my struggle" to a place of "our struggle." It allows us to have a vested interest in developing solutions to systemic injustices and inequalities, even if we have historically benefited from such systems of injustices and inequities.”

Vedra Chandler of Connecting the Lots

Community Takeaways: 

“Community bonds are strengthened when members of the community are provided with relevant opportunities to gather together for cultural and creative experiences that are recreational, entertaining, and enlightening. Some of the most vibrant gathering spaces are yet to be imagined and currently take the form of vacant lots or underutilized public spaces that take advantage of our natural and built environment. Gathering spaces are most utilized when they are accessible to the community and community members have the opportunity to be co-creators.”

"Great program ideas to activate unutilized spaces New View Camden also very creative to put recycled art sculptures in cleaned-up dumping spaces"

"Art is/can be integrated into every part of our lives. Art is an expression of our deepest humanity. Social justice is manifested in collaborative community-building and education."

Life Thru Music x Beyond the Bars

Community Takeaways: 

By providing basic access to instruments and professional-grade equipment and comprehensive, professional musical training to youth, violence can be interrupted and prevented. Goals of the programs include positively changing lives by teaching youth to nurture their musical talent and to express themselves musically.

Jay Salinas of Wormfarm Institute

Community Takeaways: 

“Good design can work within small budgets. It also can create opportunities for disparate geographic, occupational, and cultural communities to share knowledge. Agriculture and foodways connect us all and provide opportunities for commerce that is non-extractive, healthy, and celebratory, as well as a natural forum for new public art.”

"Culture and agriculture don't have to be two separate things! There is so much beauty in the art of cultivating food, fuel, fiber, fodder. Artistic genius has a place in the agricultural enterprise, in the distribution or marketing end of things, at the least! Community is everything, and each one of us has a very unique and specific role to play, that brings us and each other joy! There is a niche for everyone to express themselves."

Vanessa German

Community Takeaways: 

“A powerful presentation on the importance of community healing through art! She chose to take her art to the streets, engaging the local community using her pieces of work as a conversation starter; one that sparks the consciousness of the people. Only using funding that will allow her to push her own work without adjusting the want of the organization granting the money.”

 "1.) Encouraging community participation is critical for art that wants to make social change. 2.) There is always more work to be done in acting as an ally. 3.) The most compelling and important art of our time is art that intends to provide agency to those who have been disadvantaged by social norms."

 "Vanessa's presentation showed how art can transmute collective and personal pain and trauma into art that conveys meaning and a narrative and ultimately enacts change. Vanessa's work brings attention to the numbing, silence, and gaslighting of black emotion and lived experience that is perpetuated by the white narrative. The second part of Vanessa's presentation was her work in the community. Vanessa saw an opportunity to engage the youth through creating art in their community. The third part of the presentation included Vanessa's work to thwart gun violence."


Dr. Charon Hribar of the Poor People’s Campaign

Community Takeaways: 

“Art, graphic design, music, and song are potent tools for activists. They also give heart and hope for those doing the hard work of fighting injustice. The power of protest songs is in their simplicity; making them easy for hundreds of people sing, shape, share. Likewise with graphic design for protest; simplicity enables profound truths easily transmitted and shared across multiple platforms.”

“The Poor People's Project is a national movement and they are using art in song and design to get their messages across."

Holly Jacobson of Path with Art

Community Takeaways: 

"Art is a human, universal language that can help to restore an individual or community. With the proper resources, the arts serve as a transformative tool that is able to connect individuals to a deeper part of themselves, connect an individual to a community, or connect different communities together."

David Tovey of One Festival of Homeless Arts

Community Takeaways: 

“David gives a voice to the voices who are unheard using art to enrich the lives of others. One festival of Homeless Arts aims to take people to a different level of experience.”

“Sometimes people want to be "seen", be a part of their community - and art can be a way for that to happen. Empowering people will empower them to engage with their community. There is a lot of benefit in the people around the community if we know how to tap into it.”

Andrés Franco of City of Asylum

Community Takeaways: 

By addressing racial inequity, social injustice, and public access to the arts, you are able to build a more just community that protects and celebrates freedom and creative expression. Individuals are able to think about their own community issues when they learn about injustices elsewhere.  

City of Asylum provides a safe-space for exiled artists to be heard.

Carl Joe Williams of Blights Out

Community Takeaways: 

Blights Out was able to enact change even without the buy-in of the local politicians. I applaud the progress Carl Joe made. Sometimes going around the hierarchy instead of through it can work.

Placemaking should be an inclusive process. There is not a singular “community,” but rather, pluralistic communities, that community developers must identify ways to connect with, learn from, and focus on consensus building with. Artists deserve to have a place at the community development table. They are design thinkers and creative problem solvers. They're also able to engage community members in an authentic way that sometimes avoids policy makers and appointed officials. Artists invest sweat equity into the neighborhoods they live in, especially when homeownership is accessible to them.

Erie Arts & Culture

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