Kirsten Ervin Bids Farewell to the Women in the Arts Network
This is a farewell letter.
While I will continue to be part of this community, I am ready to pass on the torch to a new coordinator (more details to follow).
I have so enjoyed creating a community with all of you over the last two years. I have loved witnessing the growing participation on the Facebook page, seeing all your beautiful artwork on Show Your Work Monday, observing the wonderful support you give to one another, reading your stories about how you began making art or performing, and listening to what inspires you. Thank you for sharing so much and for making this such a vibrant, supportive online community. It’s been a joy to witness.
I want to thank all the people who participated in making Women in the Arts Network so vibrant, including Christiane Leach, André Solomon, Ash Chan, Kristen Wishon, Sarah Schreck, Renee Piechocki, Rachel Murdy, Jasmine Green, Jacquea Mae, Queen Nairobi, Penny Mateer, Elaine Harris-Fulton, Fran Flaherty, Amy Bowman-McElhone, Val Catherine, Alycia Washington, Dafna Rehavia, Maria Magano, Christine McCray Bethea, Brigitte Bethea, Mary Briggs, Jen Costello, Sherri Roberts, Erica Tamburo, Jennifer Schaupp, Theresa Abalos and Lacey Murray.
When I first approached Christiane about coordinating the Women in the Arts Network in the fall of 2019, neither of us had any idea the pandemic was on the horizon. We had the first in-person networking event in February 2020 at the Arts Council’s offices downtown, with wonderful food from Sprezzatura and a great turnout. We had high hopes of offering four in-person networking events every year, each at a different art venue. We wanted it to be welcoming, affordable, and accessible for all, minus any particular agenda - just food, drink, and artists, with the purpose of making new connections and solidifying old ones.
Then, March 2020 came and everything changed. We shifted to offer online and virtual programming. The Facebook page grew from 250 members to 1,060 members, thanks to all of you. We created over seven online forums featuring visual and performing artists, tackling issues such as Making Art During the Pandemic, Black Lives Matter, Using Art to Get Out the Vote, Motherhood and the Arts, Art as a Mental Health Tool, Women-Owned Galleries, and ending with a really successful Works In Progress, where artists shared visual, performance and multidisciplinary art and offered and received feedback on their work.
I have a few words for the next coordinator. In creating a pro-woman, pro-artist, and pro-people space, I ask you to do the following:
In fostering a welcoming, intersectional space, make room for artists representing all communities; this includes artists of color, it includes artists with disabilities, it includes artists who are LGBTQIA. But it also includes artists of all nationalities, sizes, appearances, ages, income levels, educational and professional backgrounds. It includes artists who are novices or hobbyists and those with advanced art degrees and lengthy careers.
Creating a community includes people who make art that you do not necessarily like. I hope that the Women In the Arts Network does more to include and highlight writers, directors and performing artists: musicians, actors, dancers, spoken word performers, multidisciplinary artists; switching to a mostly online platform has unfairly favored the visual arts.
A few words for the rest of you: Continue showing up for each other. Go to each other’s events, express interest and curiosity in each other's work, process, technique, etc. This is how you create community. I am excited for the next chapter you create!
What Comes Next?
All of us at the Arts Council want to sincerely thank Kirsten for her work with the Women in the Arts Network, for holding space for artists to connect and celebrate each other.
We hope to honor the foundational work she has done by continuing the Women in the Arts network, and are currently seeking a new Women in the Arts Peer Network Lead. If you or someone you know is interested in this role, review the responsibilities, qualifications, and pay on our Careers page.
If you have any questions about the Women in the Arts Network, please reach out to Ash Chan, artist outreach coordinator, at email@example.com.