October is National Arts & Humanities Month (NAHM)—a collective recognition of the importance of culture in America. NAHM was launched by Americans for the Arts more than 30 years ago as National Arts Week in honor of the twentieth anniversary of the National Endowment for the Arts and National Endowment for the Humanities. In 1993, it was reestablished by Americans for the Arts and national arts partners as a month-long celebration, with goals of:
FOCUSING on equitable access to the arts at local, state, and national levels;
ENCOURAGING individuals, organizations, and diverse communities to participate in the arts;
ALLOWING governments and businesses to show their support of the arts; and
RAISING public awareness about the positive impact of the arts and humanities in our communities and lives.
The arts are a national asset and should be available everywhere to everyone. And while a majority of the public believes this based on public opinion polling and other research, it’s often not their default way of thinking about the arts. National Arts & Humanities Month is an opportunity for everyone to help change public perception and promote the crucial role of the arts and humanities in promoting individual wellbeing, addressing trauma, connecting cultures, highlighting inequities, and making our communities healthier and stronger. To find out more about how you can take action, visit the Americans for the Arts website.
In our state, Maryland Humanities is a shining light. Informed by the recent success of conducting “Beyond the Statements: Leading Racial Equity in Humanities Organizations,” Maryland Humanities is launching a new limited series in October 2022 called “Designing Culturally Sensitive Programming,” which will focus on strengthening nonprofit infrastructures and facilitating deep engagement on key topics so that lasting change can be achieved.You can find out more about their Shared Authority workshop: Thursday, October 13, from 2:00 pm to 3:00 pm EDT. Register for this workshop by clicking here.
My sister and I were talking about the ways we were taught as children about American history. She had a beautiful illustrated book that celebrated Christopher Columbus. Although I had a wonderful book about the Indians of Maryland, it never spoke to their true contributions or how they suffered under colonial rule. While not without controversy, the recognition of Indigenous People’s Day in lieu of Columbus Day, reflects our new ability to tell a much more complicated story about our past and to reach a truer understanding of who we are as a nation.
Arts and culture provide thoughtful ways for us to weave together our histories, relationships, ethics, and realities. Let us be grateful for those gifts and for the opportunities they provide for civil discourse.
All my best,