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A table with a plant on it and paintings behind it
The breakfast nook of the Bailey Brown House featuring Chelvanaya Gabriel's duoprints, Mirror Neurons

The Arts at Amherst Initiative seeks to foster participation in the arts at Amherst College by supporting collaboration across disciplines, facilitating conversations about the arts within the context of the liberal arts mission, and hosting leading artists from around the world. Despite the challenges of reintegrating in-person engagement after an entirely virtual year, the Arts at Amherst Initiative moved onward and continued to deepen campus relationships this fiscal year.

We received first-time funding applications from several Amherst College faculty and staff members, supported programming with twenty-two partners across campus both inside and outside the arts, and distributed $13,012.73 in funding support to eight cross-disciplinary art-centered projects.

As we reopened the Bailey Brown House to visiting artists in November of 2021, we hosted artists from Theater & Dance, Music, and Student Affairs, and offered housing to artists associated with the Mead, American Studies, and English. In addition, the Initiative collaborated with Book & Plow Farm to establish the Bailey Brown House garden, a project intended to cultivate community and consciousness with visiting artists.

The Steering Committee produced an impactful, full program of synchronous online and in-person gatherings that engaged the Initiative’s arts community and brought people together across campus after over a year of distance. The Fall Welcome Reception let faculty and staff gather and share food in the Bailey Brown House yard, while the online Fall Soiree emphasized an interdisciplinary approach to art and culture. “Poetry and Plants” brought students to the Bailey Brown House, while the Alumni in the Arts Reception amplified our in-person arts community connections.

As the Initiative looks to 2022–2023, we hope to continue expanding our support of programming that brings the members of our community together to discuss important and relevant topics in art and expression.

Sincerely,
The Arts at Amherst Initiative Steering Committee

Danielle Amodeo, Mead Art Museum Public Programs and Marketing Specialist
Adam Levine, Assistant Professor of Art & the History of Art and Film & Media Studies
Theo Peierls, ‘20E, Arts Coordinator
Eric Sawyer, Professor of Music
Jenna Riegel, Assistant Professor of Theater & Dance
Amelia Worsley, Assistant Professor of English


Steering Committee FY23

Ron Bashford, Associate Professor of Theater and Dance
Josh Guilford, Assistant Professor of English in Film and Media Studies
Mila Hruba, Mead Art Museum Study Room Manager and European Print Specialist
Sienna McCulley, ’21, Arts Coordinator
Jason Robinson, Associate Professor of Music
Niko Vicario, Assistant Professor of Art and the History of Art

To inspire a culture of arts participation at Amherst College in which everyone may celebrate, collaborate, and learn.
—Arts at Amherst Initiative Vision Statement

A group of students in lawn chairs sitting in a yard behind a house

AAI Hosted and Co-Hosted Events

The Arts at Amherst Initiative hosts several events each year providing attendees with the opportunity to participate in informal gatherings with their colleagues and engage in conversation about art-centered work at Amherst College

The Bailey Brown House

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A room with an open door, a couch and desk and hardwood floors

As part of the Initiative’s mission to connect artists with the broader Amherst community, we provide short-term housing for visiting artists at the Bailey Brown House. Located at 19 Hitchcock Road next to the Counseling Center’s Hitchcock House, the Bailey Brown House contains four guest bedrooms, 2.5 baths, and a shared kitchen, dining room, living room, and outdoor patio. The Bailey Brown House is also typically the home of the Initiative’s Arts Coordinator, who manages the arrival and departure of all visiting artists.

On November 1, 2021, the Bailey Brown House was reopened to visiting artists in collaboration with the Health Readiness Committee and the Provost. To abide by College and state-wide guidelines, guests were required to provide a negative antigen test before entering the house, along with PCR testing every three days they remained on campus. KN95s were required to be worn in common spaces in the house, with air purifiers running constantly. With these rules in place, the Bailey Brown House hosted twenty guests in FY22, although due to Covid-19 and other extenuating circumstances, there were several last-minute cancellations from applicants not listed below. For the first time, the Arts Coordinator did not reside in the Bailey Brown House due to personal health concerns, with the necessary tasks and house maintenance being completed on a weekly basis. The rules surrounding the usage of the Bailey Brown House and the role and agency of the Arts Coordinator remain complex and changing, particularly due to the pandemic. This year, the Bailey Brown House hosted 20 visiting artists, for a total of 88 nights, hosting two guests for a recent record of 54 nights as they worked on a long-term project. While the house hosted fewer guests and experienced a high rate of cancellations due to the pandemic, the average stay of guests increased from 2.9 nights to 4.4 nights.


A Black woman in a leather jacket striking a dramatic pose

Fall & Spring Visiting Artists

We hosted a wide range of artists throughout the fall and spring semesters, including writers, dancers, musicians, educators and interdisciplinary artists from around the country.

Establishment of the Bailey Brown House Garden Project

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A group of flowers in a small flower box on the ground
In collaboration with the Book & Plow Farm, the Arts at Amherst Initiative established the Bailey Brown House garden, located in the backyard of the home. This garden supports the AAI mission through its cross-disciplinary nature, and will facilitate spreading community and shared experiences within the arts departments when the products of the garden are shared during AAI events.

This garden serves as another way to engage with the property, and a way to use the land restoratively. In addition, it supports BBH’s purpose of promoting communal living and resource sharing among artists, in that visiting artists will be welcome to whatever the garden produces. Currently, one garden bed has been filled with perennial flowers, while the second is ready for planting in collaboration with Book & Plow Farm, and will likely focus on herbs and produce.


Funded Programming

The Arts at Amherst Initiative offers funding for programs that promote cross-disciplinary collaboration and connect artists with the broader Amherst community. Funding applications can come from any department or faculty/staff organization on campus. Funding requests are reviewed twice a year, once at the beginning of the fall semester and once at the beginning of the spring semester. However, funding requests that are submitted outside these deadlines are still considered depending on funding resources.

This year, we supported projects with 22 partners across campus, distributing $13,012.73 in funding support to eight cross-disciplinary art-centered projects. These programs included artist talks, art-making and art acquisition workshops, panels with global authors, collaborative composition and performance experiences, virtual and in-person art exhibitions, and more.

FY22 Program Partners

Book & Plow Farm, The Common, Mead Art Museum, Five College NAIS program, CHI, Amherst College Choral Society, Multicultural Resource Center, Student Activities, Amherst Association of Students, Frost Library, Black Student Union, African and Caribbean Student Union, Communications, Alumni & Parent Programs, the Loeb Center, Amherst College Athletics, Hitchcock Center for the Environment, and the departments of American Studies, English, Environmental Studies, History, and Music.

A group of students smiling and posing for a photo on a stage

About the Funded Programs

This year, we supported projects with 22 partners across campus, distributing $13,012.73 in funding support to eight cross-disciplinary art-centered projects included artist talks, panels with global authors and performance experiences.

Budget

The Arts at Amherst Initiative’s usual annual budget of $60,000 was cut by 15% in FY21 in accordance with the college-wide financial response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the budget remained at this 15% cut this year. The FY22 budget of $51,000 was used to pay the Arts Coordinator’s Salary, support AAI-hosted events, cover the operating expenses of the Bailey Brown House, and to provide funding opportunities for cross-disciplinary collaborations in the Amherst arts community.

With the return of visiting artists to campus, BBH operating costs and program production costs both rose slightly from the previous year. This year we funded three fewer projects, but funded our selected projects to a greater extent, increasing our funding distribution from FY21 by $1200.

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A pie chart labeled budget dispersement; discription of the chart is in the caption below

Budget Dispersement: Arts Coordinator Wages, 53.6%; External Programming Support, 24.4%; Bailey Brown Arts House Operating, 19.3%; Initiative-Hosted Events, 2.7%

Over the past six years, the Steering Committee has shifted its focus away from directly producing large-scale events and has instead positioned itself as a key financial supporter of events developed by our program partners across campus. In FY22 we continued this work, using only 10% of the programming budget on AAI-developed programming and 90% to support projects developed by our program partners, an increase of 5% from last year. This shift in the allocation of program funding has allowed for the support of more collaborative arts programming overall and resulted in projects that reach a larger range of students. It has also allowed for the approval of larger funding requests from a greater variety of faculty and staff. By maintaining a variety of faculty and staff projects approved, and expanding the depth of support provided, the Steering Committee has fostered the development of long-term cross-disciplinary partnerships and the production of ongoing collaborative programming.