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
BOSTON (Feb. 1, 2024) — The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)'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. The Mystic River Watershed Urban Waters Federal Partnership and Massachusetts Bays National Estuary Partnership is one of the six chosen locations to participate in this first-of-its-kind program.
"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."
"This new program spotlights the environmental connection to the arts and culture; it will bring greater awareness of unique challenges posed by climate impacts to our communities, especially those that are overburdened disproportionately." said EPA New England Regional Administrator David W. Cash. "We are thrilled that our region has been selected to have an Artist-in-Residence, via our partnerships with MassBays and MyRWA, and by doing so will empower our communities to use their voices and get active, and will reach and inspire future generations and leaders for environmental protection."
"This project will help connect communities to their rivers and estuaries – where the rivers meet the sea – in a whole new way. MassBays is thrilled to partner with the Mystic River Watershed Association and EPA to make it happen." said Pam DiBona, Director of the Massachusetts Bays National Estuary Partnership.
"As the most urban watershed in New England, it is so important to connect people with nature in their backyard," said Daria Clark, MyRWA Engagement Manager. "The opportunity to work with an Artist-in-Residence on community co-created projects is an exciting way to bring nature to the forefront of our cities and to spark conversation about the watershed ecosystem that we're a part of."
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 Program (NEP) and Urban Waters Federal 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 Passaic River and Bronx and Harlem River Urban Waters Federal Partnerships: New York-New Jersey Harbor and Estuary Program
- The San Juan Estuary Partnership
- The Greater Philadelphia Area/Delaware River Watershed Urban Waters Federal Partnership: Partnership for the Delaware Estuary
- The Green-Duwamish Watershed Urban Waters Federal Partnership: Puget Sound Partnership
- The Middle Rio Grande/Albuquerque Urban Waters Federal Partnership
- The Mystic River Watershed Urban Waters Federal Partnership: Massachusetts Bays National Estuary Partnership
Public and community engagement, outreach, and education are vital components of both 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.