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Posts Tagged ‘access’


Art: Roy Lichtenstein
Masterpiece, 1962, was sold by philanthropist Agnes Gund to launch the Art for Justice Fund. 

There’s a movement in the world of philanthropy to combine the arts with social justice. In some cases, donations to arts organizations specify reaching out to poor communities and new audiences. This particular article focuses on collectors who sell art to fund causes they believe in.

Mike Scutari writes at Inside Philanthropy, “After Agnes Gund launched the $100 million Art for Justice Fund with the proceeds from the sale of Roy Lichtenstein’s ‘Masterpiece,’ I wondered if collectors represented the sleeping giants of arts philanthropy. The prognosis thus far seems promising.

“A number of founding donors to Art for Justice have committed gifts of artwork or contributions, and late last year, the fund allocated $22 million to 30 criminal justice reform groups and education and arts initiatives. Around the same time, the anonymous consignor of Jean-Michel Basquiat’s ‘Red Skull’ announced they would donate the proceeds to a nonprofit that opens new public charter schools. …

“Glenn Fuhrman and his wife Amanda partnered with Suzanne Deal Booth and The Contemporary Austin to transform the existing $100,000 Suzanne Deal Booth Art Prize, which is currently celebrating its inaugural exhibition, into one of the nation’s largest awards presented to an artist.”

Scutari notes that although the prize doesn’t require attention to social causes, sometimes a winner’s work turns out to have been strongly influenced by the issues of the day.

“Collectors have historically deferred to institutional givers to do the heavy lifting when it comes to traditional grantmaking and the red-hot area of activist art in particular. This is why Gund’s Art for Justice Fund is so important. It’s predicated on the idea that by selling their work, collectors can advance social justice. As Ford [Foundation] President Darren Walker noted, ‘art has meaning on a wall, but it also has meaning when it is monetized.’ …

“An open question is the extent to which the Suzanne Deal Booth / FLAG Art Foundation Prize will align with the surging fields of boosting access to the arts and promoting socially focused work. Corroborating evidence suggests it will.

“Regarding access, the Fuhrmans’ FLAG Art Foundation exhibition space has been free and open to the public since its 2008 opening. The Fuhrman family has also underwritten free admission at the Institute of Contemporary Art [in Philadelphia] annually for nearly a decade. The couple is clearly committed to eliminating financial barriers to access.

“Exemplifying its social focus, in the charged aftermath of the 2016 election, the FLAG Art Foundation curated an exhibition that focused on artists who ‘negotiate politics, tragedies, social issues, and their own perspectives’ by using the New York Times as an inspiration for their work. …

“I recently spoke with VIA Art Fund President and collector Bridgitt Evans on the state of arts philanthropy and floated the theory that collectors are the sleeping giants of arts philanthropy. [VIA means Visionary initiatives in Art. It’s located in Boston.] She concurred with this assessment. Collectors, she said, are ‘exposed to a wider variety of artists, practices, ideas, and social commentary,’ and moving forward, they will ‘direct the same passion they have to collecting to philanthropy.’ ”

Read more at Inside Philanthropy, here.

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Photo: The Stage
Open Access Smart Capture’s glasses enable deaf theatergoers in Britain to read live captioning during a performance.

Earlier this month I posted about how the Vienna State Opera provides captions in six languages.

Today’s entry is on making dramatic productions more accessible to the deaf by means of glasses that churn out captions.

Georgia Snow writes at the Stage, “The National Theatre has unveiled new technology that will enable deaf audiences to see captions for performances in front of their eyes using special glasses, … removing the need for captioning screens in the auditorium.

“Developed by the NT with its innovation partner, consultancy firm Accenture, Open Access Smart Capture is being introduced during a year-long pilot.

“If it is a success, the result would be ‘transformational,’ [NT director Rufus] Norris said. …

“The glasses boast 97% accuracy in the timing of the captions, and can also facilitate audio description, for audiences with restricted vision. …

“The project is one of two new initiatives being introduced by the NT around accessibility, the second being an online video database showcasing deaf and disabled actors. …

“It is part of a drive to tackle the under-representation of disabled actors working in the profession, Norris said. …

“He added that ProFile also hopes to remove some of the barriers for deaf and disabled performers, for whom travelling to auditions and meetings can be difficult and expensive.” More at the Stage, here.

If nothing the else, the glasses will be fun. A few years ago, I got to see that for myself using Google Glass. An executive where I worked was having summer interns play around with programming the glasses to test the possibilities for the Fed. That didn’t go anywhere, but it was definitely fun.

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Photo: Martina Bacigalupo for The New York Times
An American pediatric specialist during a radiology teaching session with pediatric residents in Kigali, Rwanda. In the past 15 years, Rwanda has worked to build a near-universal health care system.

We like to think that American medical care is top drawer, but in some developing countries, access, at least, is much better. Would you believe Rwanda, where Paul Farmer’s Partners in Health and others have offered help to local leaders?

Eduardo Porter has the story at the NY Times, “Rwanda’s economy adds up to some $700 per person, less than one-eightieth of the average economic output of an American. A little more than two decades ago it was shaken by genocidal interethnic conflict that killed hundreds of thousands. Still today, a newborn Rwandan can expect to live to 64, 15 years less than an American baby.

“But over the past 15 years or so, Rwanda has built a near-universal health care system that covers more than 90 percent of the population, financed by tax revenue, foreign aid and voluntary premiums scaled by income.

“It is not perfect. A comparative study of health reform in developing countries found that fewer than 60 percent of births there were attended by skilled health workers. Still, access to health care has improved substantially even as the financial burden it imposes on ordinary Rwandans has declined. On average, Rwandans see a doctor almost twice a year, compared with once every four years in 1999.

“Rwandan lives may be short, but they are 18 years longer than they were at the turn of the century — double the average increase of their peers in sub-Saharan Africa. …

“In some dimensions of health care, [Rwanda] gives the United States a run for its money.

“Its infant mortality rate, for one, dropped by almost three-quarters since 2000, to 31 per 1,000 births in 2015, vastly outpacing the decline in its region. In the United States, by contrast, infant mortality declined by about one-fifth over the period, to 5.6 per 1,000 births. …

“Critically, Rwanda may impress upon you an idea that has captured the imagination of policy makers in even the poorest corners of the world: Access to health care might be thought of as a human right.”

Read how poor countries, such as Ghana, Peru, Vietnam, and Thailand, are acting on that belief, here. At the rate they’re going with access, it is reasonable to suppose that more citizens will choose a medical profession and that quality improvements will follow.

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Photo: Paul Chinn, The Chronicle 
Artificial turf is installed in a park under construction in San Francisco, which claims to be the first city with a park near every home.

More and more research is showing that access to nature and urban parks improves not only quality of life but the health of city dwellers. Municipalities save, too, when they have healthier residents.

Recently San Francisco was able to claim the distinction of being first in the nation to offer a park 10 minutes from every home.

Lizzie Johnson reports at the San Francisco Chronicle, “In 10 minutes, you can load a TV episode on Netflix, check your mail waiting for BART or make an avocado toast. Now, you can add to that list: take a walk to the park.

“San Francisco is the first city in the nation to have every resident live within a 10-minute walk of a park or open space. The percentage is calculated by the Trust for Public Land, a nonprofit that facilitates the creation of parks and analyzes park systems for the 100 largest cities nationwide. …

“But don’t expect to see a small army of city workers and volunteers with stopwatches in hand counting their steps. The data were gathered using a complex geographic mapping program. The average person can walk a half-mile in about 10 minutes, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation, which counts even your two legs as a mode of transportation. The distance has to include sidewalks — crossing highways or skirting canals doesn’t count.

“ ‘We developed this as the gold standard,’ said Adrian Benepe, the Trust for Public Land’s director of city park development. ‘A 10-minute walk to a park is an important indicator of the livability of a city.’ …

“Criteria for the nonprofit’s annual ParkScore analysis also includes the number of individual parks, overall spending and facilities upkeep. …

“The city has spent $355 million in bond and general fund money over the past four years to purchase land, renovate dilapidated parks and improve open spaces. In 2012, voters passed the $195 million Clean and Safe Neighborhood Parks Bond to fix up neighborhood parks.

“Those measures made the difference in reaching the No. 1 spot, said Recreation and Park Department Director Phil Ginsburg.

“ ‘It speaks volumes about this city’s commitment to open space,’ he said. “It is the reflection of literally a century and a half of decisions regarding parks and open space.’ ”

More at the San Francisco Chronicle.

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With increasing numbers of Americans experiencing food insecurity, it seems like an appropriate time of year to be grateful that at least there are many goodhearted people managing food banks and community meals and doing what they can.

If you know of anyone in New England who could use the help just now, or if you want to volunteer or donate, this partial list may be a good starting place.

Rhode Island

http://www.rifoodbank.org
“The Rhode Island Community Food Bank works to end hunger in our state by providing food to people in need. We envision a day when all Rhode Islanders have access to nutritious food and a healthy lifestyle.

Massachusetts

East
http://Gbfb.org
“The Greater Boston Food Bank’s mission is to End Hunger Here. Our objective is to distribute enough food to provide at least one meal a day to those in need.”

West
https://www.foodbankwma.org/
“We are fortunate to live in such a special part of the country, allowing for the growth and harvest of a multitude of fresh fruits and vegetables. As this harvest season comes to an end, we have received more than 266,800 pounds of fresh produce — including potatoes, lettuce, carrots, apples and squash — donated by local farms this year.”

Vermont

http://www.vtfoodbank.org/FindFoodShelf.aspx
“If you are looking for a place to have a Thanksgiving meal or to volunteer to help cook, serve or clean-up, download our list of Thanksgiving meals.”

New Hampshire

http://www.nhfoodbank.org/
“Need Food? We Can Help. If you are in need of assistance, use our search to locate the nearest food pantry or soup kitchen to you. Search by your town or county, or view all of our partner agencies.”

Maine

http://www.foodpantries.org/st/maine
“There are several food pantries and food banks in the Maine. With help from users like you we have compiled a list of some. If you know of a listing that is not included here please submit new food pantries to our database.”

Connecticut

http://www.ctfoodbank.org/
“The mission of Connecticut Food Bank is to provide nutritious food to people in need. We distribute food and other resources to nearly 700 local emergency food assistance programs in six of Connecticut’s eight counties: Fairfield, Litchfield, Middlesex, New Haven, New London and Windham.”

harvest

 

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It’s not always easy for low-income people to get access to food that is healthful, and once children get accustomed to salty, fatty, sugary snacks, junk food becomes comfort food and stores see little demand for better items. But if children know what would taste good and be good for them, they are on the road to better nutrition.

That is why the folks fighting childhood obesity are enlisting the support of several hip-hop artists that young people admire.

Winnie Hu at the NY Times writes, “Adrian Harris, known as Easy A.D. to his fans, has rapped about street life in the South Bronx as a member of the Cold Crush Brothers, a group that is among the pioneers of hip-hop.

“Now Mr. Harris also raps about broccoli.

“ ‘If you think you eat healthy, say ‘”me,” ‘ Mr. Harris called out over a pounding bass that shook the gym at the Future Leaders Institute, a charter school in Harlem, on a recent morning. A photo of a cart laden with fruits and vegetables filled a screen behind him. ‘Boys and girls,’ he added, ‘there are no Doritos on that cart.’

“Mr. Harris, calling himself a ‘health M.C.,’ aims to reach children who might otherwise tune out nutrition lessons. His vegetable rap is part of a growing public health campaign that has enlisted hip-hop artists such as Doug E. Fresh, Chuck D and DMC of Run-DMC to work alongside doctors and nutritionists in fighting obesity and related illnesses in poor communities. The campaign is being rolled out this year in 18 cities.” More here.

Photo: Ozier Muhammad/The New York Times
Adrian Harris, also known as Easy A.D., made a pitch for healthy eating recently at the Future Leaders Institute in Harlem.
 

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Take two tomatoes and call me in the morning.

***

The University of South Carolina has developed a manual for health centers that want to collaborate with farmers markets on health, even writing food prescriptions for patients who need to improve their eating habits.

The manual’s authors, Darcy Freedman and Kassandra Alia, write in the intro of their manual:

“Farmers’ markets have grown in popularity in recent years as a place for improving health, increasing economic growth for local agriculture, and building communities. …

“Though the rebirth of farmers’ markets represents an exciting movement in the United States, data reveal that the benefits of farmers’ markets are not evenly distributed. Communities with the greatest need for farmers’ markets, for instance, are least likely to have them.

“In the present manual, we describe an approach for developing a health center‐based farmers’ market. Health centers, in particular federally qualified health centers or FQHCs, were identified as a strategic place to locate farmers’ markets because they may be located in food desert contexts (i.e., low‐income communities with low‐access to healthy food retailers). Additionally, locating at a health center makes an explicit connection between farmers’ market and preventive medicine.” More.

Photo: Aram Boghosian for The Boston Globe

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