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Arts Leaders Showcase Their Work on April 8

By Elizabeth Snell

The fourth cohort of the Artist Leadership Fellows (ALF), a program of Mid-America Arts Alliance (M-AAA), is excited to present the work 19 artist-leaders from across the M-AAA region and beyond during a virtual public WorkShare, an event scheduled for April 8, 2024, from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. Since 2022, M-AAA has trained 58 artists through the ALF program. 

The WorkShare serves as capstone of the eight-week Artist Leadership Fellows program, a semiannual workshop that strengthens the professional skills of the next generation of artists leaders across M-AAA’s six-state region and beyond, with representation from New York and New Mexico. The intent of the event is to share the leadership projects of each of the fellows, presenting their work to their communities to encourage dialogue and collaboration beyond the cohort.

Recognizing the pivotal role artists play in shaping cultural landscapes and driving societal discourse, ALF embodies M-AAA’s commitment to fostering innovation, resilience, and inclusive leadership within the arts community and for the broader economy

“The arts create livable communities and drive our creative economy. We want to make sure they have a voice at every table,” says Eepi Chaad, M-AAA professional development program officer and past ALF senior artist peer facilitator. “ALF helps artists build their networks, their confidence, and their visibility. Magical things happen when artists have the space and opportunity to come together, support each other, and amplify their voices.” 

Chaad emphasizes that empowering artists who actively engage with their communities has a ripple effect that enhances the vitality of the entire region. These fellows ultimately become mentors, passing on their knowledge and empowering more artists with each successive cohort.

During the eight-week ALF program, artist fellows met virtually from locations across the heartland, collaborating with senior peer facilitators to explore and develop their creative practices and learn how to guide other artists through their creative and professional journeys. Artists deepened their knowledge, honed their skills, and strengthened their professional practices in a supportive small group environment. Topics covered included goal-setting, financial strategies, marketing, contracts, legal business structures, time management, and self-care. Participants were nominated by community partner organizations. Each participating artist received an honorarium of $500.

The public is invited to participate in the culminating virtual “WorkShare” event on Monday, April 8, 2024, from 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. Central Daylight Time. During this event, the artist fellows will deliver brief virtual presentations about their work and creative practices. To attend, guests are required to register in advance, and a virtual meeting link will be emailed the day of the showcase.

The Spring 2024 Artist Leadership Fellows are:

Laura Blumenberg (Kansas City,MO), Lakisha Bradley (Fayetteville, AR), Paula Castillo (Belen, NM), Lindsey Clausen (Lincoln, NE), Princeton Coleman (Little Rock, AR), Elexa Dawson (Emporia, KS), Connie Fiorella Fitzpatrick (Lawrence, KS), Bo Hubbard (Brooklyn, NY), Jake Jackson (Topeka, KS), Barbara Mehlman (Santa Fe, NM), Sonny Mehta (Houston, TX), JahVelle Rhone (Manhattan, KS), Spade Robinson (Bentonville, AR), Sabrina Staires (Santa Fe, NM), Eric Stearns (Lincoln, NE), Y. E. Torres (Houston, TX), Nolan Tredway (Lincoln, NE), Toan Vuong, and Darryl Lorenzo Wellington (Santa Fe, NM).

The senior artist peer facilitators leading the cohort are Nick Carswell (Lawrence, KS, Chris Dahlquist (Kansas City, MO), José Faus (Kansas City, MO), Cory Imig (Kansas City, MO), and Kholoud Sawaf (Fayetteville, AR).

Fellows of the program depart with a cross-discipline, geographically diverse network of peer artists, a strategic framework to navigate enduring artistic careers, and the tools to serve as facilitators and mentors in their respective home communities across M-AAA’s region and beyond. 

M-AAA has plans to continue hosting additional cohorts in 2024 and 2025. Learn more about the Artist Leadership Fellows program at www.maaa.org/artist-leadership-fellows.