The City of Seattle is launching a program to help get artists back to work. body of hope draws inspiration from New Deal programs.
Royal Alley-Barnes is Acting Director of the Seattle Office of Arts and Culture. She spoke to KUOW’s Kim Malcolm about the program.
This interview has been edited for clarity.
alley royale-barnes: One of the most vulnerable populations affected by the pandemic is the creative workforce. the body of hope program will actually employ creative workers. He is going to put food on the table. This will demonstrate how creatives can be and are integrated into the socio-economic fabric. He will signal that Seattle is booming and thriving and integrating its creatives into its workforce, therefore into its society. That’s the big picture. That’s the big impact.
Kim Malcolm: You spoke to Crosscut about how getting more of our creatives back to work creates social cohesion. Can you expand on what you mean by that?
The fact is, social cohesion — human beings understanding and communicating with other human beings — is how society works. Artists, for eons, have been so essential to put this communication in place, to establish the meaning of space and change it into a place, into a gathering.
When artists come to any community and work with that community, it’s high. It gives a vision to a community. It settles into this emotional intelligence. It is part of this commitment to social justice. He begins to emphasize the need for other types of relationships within the economy. It is this social cohesion that makes art.
body of hope is a first in Seattle, but this type of program is taking place in other cities across the country. What do you think people need to know about this right now as we come out of this pandemic?
Artists are your neighbours, your brothers, your sisters, your nieces, your nephews. These are the people right next to you. What you need to know is that putting food on that art business table is as important as feeding yourself. This program allows this creative workforce to do what they do best, which is to merge that cohesion.
Once our communities are engaged and involved in these, we are different. Then we individually start to continue to build on that difference. That’s the importance of this program, putting artists at the heart of our social fabric with intentionality.
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