MEDIA CONTACT INFORMATION:
Katie Adams Farrell
Executive Director & CEO
RELEASE DATE: February 1, 2021
MUZEO Brings on Board Local and Grassroots Arts Leader Sarah Rafael García.
Anaheim, California, January 21, 2021 – As anti-racism protests swept the United States last year, arts organizations, too, were criticized for the ways they have helped to sustain systemic racism in the arts and creative industries. Today – at nearly a year shuttered due to a pandemic that has disproportionately affected people of color – it’s clear that returning to “business as usual” is not good enough. As we begin the long process of rebuilding our arts organizations, we must do it in a way that represents our local community, honors everyone’s experiences, and celebrates difference as positive and essential to a vibrant arts and culture sector.
Orange County is approximately 60% people of color, yet almost all art spaces in the region are white-led, including MUZEO. With new Executive Director (ED), Katie Adams Farrell, – the first woman to head the organization since its inception – MUZEO has moved beyond showcasing diversity and towards community engagement and racial equity. One of the first initiatives instated by the new ED is a project called the Co-Creators Taskforce; a second initiative is bringing on board a Community Engagement and Racial Equity Consultant.
Co-Creating With Local Artists
The Co-Creators Taskforce is a group of local artists who guide programmatic development. They serve as a primary node in a growing web of community members who give feedback and ideas, source connections, and keep MUZEO informed about the community’s needs on the ground. It has opened new pathways of collaboration with local BIPOC artists, cultural producers, and community organizations. The taskforce is a way to move from trying to change some people to fit the organization to focusing on transforming our organizations to better meet the needs of the surrounding BIPOC community. The initial cohor of Co-Creators are currently curating an exhibition to debut in November, 2021 “Self-Reflection in Anaheim/OC.” Co-Creators are: William Camargo, Ricky Hernandez, and D. Hill.
Moving toward Racial and Cultural Equity in Practice and Policy
Doing this work requires understanding how power works and using it for change; ensuring that conflict is understood and embraced as part of the process; and committing to learning and long-term transformation. MUZEO will share more of its process and progress on its blog. Importantly, as part of this on-going commitment moving into 2021, MUZEO has contracted a Community Engagement and Racial Equity Consultant.
Sarah Rafael García is a writer, community educator, and multimedia artist from Santa Ana. As a first generation graduate and artist, she has over 13 years of experience as an Arts Leader in Orange County and received over $100K in grants for her art projects. She is the founder of Barrio Writers, LibroMobile and Crear Studio. In 2010 Senator Lou Correa honored her with the “Women Making a Difference” award and in 2011 she was awarded for “Outstanding Contributions to Education,” by the Orange County Department of Education. She obtained a M.F.A. in Creative Writing with a cognate in Media Studies in May 2015.
In 2016, García was awarded for SanTana’s Fairy Tales multi-media exhibition, which was supported in part by The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts. In 2018, she was honored as an Emerging Artist at the 19th Annual Orange County Arts Awards. In 2019, she was recognized as an inaugural Arizona State University Desert Nights, Rising Stars Fellow and recipient of the University of Houston Katherine G. McGovern College of the Arts-Project Row Houses Fellowship. Over the last two years, she served as a California Arts Council (CAC) panelist, managed over $6M in CAC arts education funding and co-wrote the new CAC Individual Artist Fellowship Grants as an arts program specialist. Currently, she splits her time writing and implementing Racial Equity strategic framework for art spaces, teaching Ethnofiction for Contemporary Narratives, and developing an archival ethnofiction project for the life of Modesta Avila as a 2020 USLDH Mellon-Funded Grantee.
With MUZEO, García will establish MUZEO’S Inclusivity, Diversity, Equity and Accessibility (IDEA) strategic framework, provide ongoing feedback on MUZEO programs, and support project development for grants. Through the strategic framework and initiatives like the Co-Creators Taskforce, García will help implement Racial Equity workshops internally and eventually, with support from MUZEO, provide community-based workshops for underrecognized artists and arts administrators in Orange County.
“Running diverse but not inclusive art spaces and talking about being inclusive through board members is within the OC art scene’s comfort zone,” says García. “However it takes understanding the community’s demographics and needs, holding spaces accountable and implementing equitable practices to really represent the region and prioritize local artists.”
MUZEO does not enter into this work passively. Making a solidarity statement on social media is not enough. True racial equity and inclusion work in local OC art spaces must look visibly different from what’s been done in the past. Local audiences are no longer interested in engaging with organizations that fail to represent the local population. But we can start today, by acknowledging and bringing in respective community members to the “conference rooms, offices and desks” where we spend most of our waking lives strategizing how to engage local residents.
The Muzeo Museum and Cultural Center engages the community in exploring and celebrating our diverse heritage, culture and arts through creative programming. For more information, visit www.muzeo.org.