Sitting at the Table

Part of being an artist is showing up at the table.  In D.C., there are many tables, endless networking to be done, and new groups of folks to introduce your work to.  It is a blend of self marketing and advocating for the arts.  This part of the job is persistent and necessary.  Tonight, The DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities hosted a community dialogue on Healing Through Art and I was curious, so I went.  I consider myself an active player in this field and want to know who else is out there and what amazing work is being done.  The event took place at The Smith Center for Healing and the Arts on U Street.  The new Interim Executive Director of DCCAH Lisa Richards Toney welcomed us.  So excited to meet her and hear her speak!  P.S. she’s a dancer!  This is good D.C.!  She mentioned in her remarks that DCCAH is charged with doing more than grantmaking – again, good for us!  What do we want to see happen?  How can we partner with DCCAH?   The event had a rock star panel – I was inspired by each of them and hope to cross paths with them again.

Jeff Majors introduced himself by saying in his soothing and strong voice, “I want to see healing in my city.  I want to see healing in my neighborhoods.”  He is a harpist and introduced us to the idea of a “musical diet” – what are you listening to for breakfast? Before you go to sleep?  Nourish yourself.  I could tell how invested and influential he is in his work with youth offenders, just from witnessing his presence.

Captain Moira G. McGuire, Chief of Integrative Health & Wellness at Walter Reed, made the world of the military so approachable in her comments.  It was inspiring to hear someone at that level speak so highly of the arts and the impact artists make.  She made the point that artists reintroduce people to their creative side.  I will take that with me into my dance classes.

Shanti Norris was inspiring to listen to.  I deeply understood everything she had to say and had observed in her programs.  She made the point that healing comes from within.  Cures come from the external.  Anyone can heal and at any time.

Lastly, Dr. Gay Hanna, Executive Director of the National Center for Creative Aging made so many great connections that are helpful to hear as I go out into the field.  One, artists are models for aging well.  Two, the arts can help those who feel they have lost their identity and/or hope.  Three, artists inspire her.  Four, ageism.

After the panel, I thought that we had stripped age out of the conversation.  Frankly, it is not connected to whether the arts can help heal or not.  I prefer when age doesn’t enter the conversation – what is the point?  And then, in a conversation with one of the panelists, she responded to me sharing what I do with, “keep going, you’re young” … or, something like that.  Is she speaking out of her own insecurity?  If yes, there is no reason to – she is clearly kicking ass at staying healthy and creative.  If not, in a context where we just tossed age off of the table, why make a comment?  It made me feel grateful for the few colleagues in my life that never mention age and engage me in a mutually supportive relationship.

During the q&a, I asked worldwide, who are their inspirations? People? Organizations? Programs?  All of their answers were local and personal.  No judgment.  Beautiful to hear.  But still, is there an interest in partnering nationally/internationally?  Who, on the global scale, is at this table?  I know there are tons.  Let the research and questioning continue!

Thank you to the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities for hosting these events!


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