EPA announces inaugural Artist-in-Residence Program in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts
Arts and cultural strategies will support ongoing progress in treasured water bodies across America
WASHINGTON — The Environmental Protection Agency’s Assistant Administrator for Water Radhika Fox announced on Tuesday EPA’s inaugural Artist-in-Residence Program in collaboration with the National Endowment for the Arts. Assistant Administrator Fox made the announcement at Healing, Bridging, Thriving: A Summit on Arts and Culture in our Communities, which was co-hosted by the White House and National Endowment for the Arts to recognize the profound impact that arts and culture play in shaping our lives, communities and nation. By launching this program, EPA is investing in arts and culture to boost engagement, awareness and participation in critical water challenges ranging from aging infrastructure to climate impacts like flooding and storm surge to investment in safe drinking water.
“Across America, EPA is working hand-in-hand with local partners to ensure drinking water is safe, and to restore and maintain oceans, watersheds and their aquatic ecosystems. Incorporating arts and cultural strategies into our work can reveal new ideas, unlock opportunities, and help us find new and enduring solutions to pressing water challenges,” said EPA Assistant Administrator for Water Radhika Fox. “Through this partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts, local water leaders from the Puget Sound—to the San Juan Estuary—to the Delaware River watershed, will have new tools and resources to support water restoration and climate resilience.”
Water is essential, yet the water challenges faced today are pervasive and mounting. Many communities suffer from poor water quality, too much or too little water, and aging water infrastructure that is in urgent need of replacement. Overburdened water systems are further stressed by climate change—unpredictable weather, sea level rise and flooding. These challenges require engagement at every level. Water leaders are increasingly turning to artists and culture bearers to help bring visibility to water issues, create more inclusive planning processes and leverage infrastructure investments to provide additional benefits to the communities they serve.
EPA is establishing an Artist-in-Residence Program to continue and expand these efforts in the water sector. In 2024, EPA will support artists and culture bearers in six long-standing National Estuary and Urban Waters partnership locations that are doing critical work on water restoration and climate resilience.
“I believe that the integration of arts and culture can help to strengthen many aspects of our lives and communities, which is why I’m excited by the Environmental Protection Agency’s artist in residence program,” said Maria Rosario Jackson, PhD, chair of the National Endowment for the Arts. “This is an opportunity for EPA to deepen its community engagement while also expanding an understanding of how artists can contribute to multiple sectors.”
EPA’s Artist-in-Residence Initiative was developed in response to President Biden’s Executive Order on Arts and Humanities, designed to spur investment and alignment of arts and culture across the federal government, make art more accessible to people from underserved communities, elevate new voices through the arts and humanities, and expand opportunities for artists and scholars.
EPA’s inaugural Artist-in-Residence Program will focus on opportunities to advance the goals of the National Estuary Program and the Urban Waters Federal Partnership long standing programs that have restored and protected treasured water bodies across America.
The six locations that will participate in the program include:
- The Duwamish River in Seattle
- The Rio Grande in New Mexico
- The San Juan Bay Estuary in Puerto Rico
- The Passaic, Bronx and Harlem Rivers
- The Delaware River Watershed in the Greater Philadelphia Region
- The Mystic River Watershed in Boston
Public and community engagement, outreach and education are vital components of the NEP and Urban Waters programs. Incorporating arts and cultural strategies into EPA’s place-based programs will support innovative approaches and create lasting impact.