The arts can be an incredible source of resilience during challenging times, and the people creating and disseminating art are often deeply affected by the same things their art helps people face. As part of Massachusetts General Hospital’s Juneteenth celebration and commemoration, Dawn Simmons, of the Front Porch Arts Collective, moderated a panel with leaders of area groups who work to increase visibility for the art that people of color create.

The lively conversation described the ups and downs of the arts world, including during the coronavirus pandemic and while responding to racial violence. Catherine Morris, of the Boston Art, Music and Soul (BAMS) Festival, said institutions that want to hire groups for diverse arts programming should “do it 365 days of the year, not two months out of the year.” 

Panelists also discussed what health care workers can do to fight racism. Ash Gordon, of Castle of Our Skins, advocated “checking language and checking perspectives, and decolonizing as best you can” at any job level. “It can be small, but it needs to be meaningful and it needs to be long-term.”

Reading, education, and being open to new ideas were promoted by the speakers as great steps in the fight against racism. “It’s time to start figuring out what you’re willing to risk. The reality is, when you do that work [to prioritize diversity, equity and inclusion], you are bettering the overall organization,” said Tim Hall of Hipstory.

Added Simmons, “My real fear is that we’re going to be here two years from now, having the same conversation.” She encouraged moving from solidarity to action. "Now is the opportunity."