Reimagine Everything: Giving cash instead of services, arts groups taking on civics and racial healing, and more ways nonprofits are rethinking their work in the wake of 2020’s crises.
Jim Rendon, Chronicle of Philanthropy, Sep. 21, 2020.

One arts organization has decided that art is no longer powerful enough to address today’s vast and deep challenges. Amplifier previously brought in landscape architects, graphic designers, performance artists, dancers, conceptual artists, and architects and worked with local artists to produce public art — murals, public-art events such as parades and art festivals in Flint, Mich., and other cities — as a way to highlight positive change and help residents to revitalize their communities. But no longer.

Amplifier spun off the Flint Public Art Project as a separate group in 2018. Its board has been meeting since just before the Covid crisis to determine how to proceed. The problems it identified have only been exacerbated by the pandemic — a failure of institutions, disinformation, and distrust that calls even basic facts into question.

Those problems have a real-world impact. Large numbers of Americans say they won’t get a Covid vaccine when they become available. Art cannot bridge that divide, says Amplifier vice president James Andrews.

“The very structures that any organization exists within — global governance, the economy, the environment — it’s those very things that seem to be slipping and can’t be taken for granted,” he says.

The organization has invited a series of experts to its board meetings to help members better understand challenges and how the group might respond. The group is still hammering out the path forward, but art, once its core focus, is off the table for now.

“The direction we’re heading in are programs that are longer, deeper, that are much more deeply integrated into the functioning of a dominant institution,” Andrews says. “We’re still debating what’s the best approach. But gestures, public offerings, symbolic actions, things like that are not anywhere near our discussion.”

He says this nation and many other countries are in such deep turmoil, and challenges such as climate change are so dire, that this time requires nothing short of a complete transformation.

“Nonprofits should completely reassess their missions, their goals, their timelines, their norms from top to bottom. Re-evaluate, and don’t base your analysis on hope,” he says. “People should be adapting and not just wishing that 2018 or 2014 is going to come back.”

CHANCE ECOLOGIES: Pink Smoke, by Raphaele Shirley, 2015.

Chance Ecologies Art Exhibition Explores the Soon to be Lost Wild Landscapes of Hunter’s Point South.
Jeff Reuben, Untapped Cities, Dec. 23, 2015.

A Dispatch From the Last Wild Days of Hunter’s Point South.
Nathan Kensinger, Curbed, Dec. 17, 2015.

The “Endangered” Surfaces of Hunters Point South
Ben Pardee, Urban Omnibus, Oct. 6, 2015.

Welcome To The “Secret” Wild Riverside Forest In Queens.
Gothamist, Sep. 4, 2015.

The Abandoned, Wild Landscape of Hunters Point Waterfront in Long Island City.
Untapped Cities, Aug. 25, 2015.

Imagining Future Alternatives (PDF).
Fabrizio Gallanti, Abitare, Nov. 2014.

Flint Public Art Project seeks to replace blight with positive words for next neighborhood art parade.
Scott Atkinson, Flint Journal, Oct. 22, 2014.

Flint Public Art Project takes mission of reclaiming spaces to Art Prize.
Scott Atkinson, MLive, Sep. 28, 2014.

Second Flint Free City Art Festival looks to show off ‘greater downtown area.’
Scott Atkinson, Flint Journal, Aug. 17, 2014.

Chance Ecologies Art Exhibition Explores the Soon to be Lost Wild Landscapes of Hunter’s Point South.
Jeff Reuben, Untapped Cities, Dec. 23, 2015.

A Dispatch From the Last Wild Days of Hunter’s Point South.
Nathan Kensinger, Curbed, Dec. 17, 2015.

The “Endangered” Surfaces of Hunters Point South
Ben Pardee, Urban Omnibus, Oct. 6, 2015.

Welcome To The “Secret” Wild Riverside Forest In Queens.
Gothamist, Sep. 4, 2015.

The Abandoned, Wild Landscape of Hunters Point Waterfront in Long Island City.
Untapped Cities, Aug. 25, 2015.

Imagining Future Alternatives (PDF).
Fabrizio Gallanti, Abitare, Nov. 2014.

Flint Public Art Project seeks to replace blight with positive words for next neighborhood art parade.
Scott Atkinson, Flint Journal, Oct. 22, 2014.

Flint Public Art Project takes mission of reclaiming spaces to Art Prize.
Scott Atkinson, MLive, Sep. 28, 2014.

Second Flint Free City Art Festival looks to show off ‘greater downtown area.’
Scott Atkinson, Flint Journal, Aug. 17, 2014.