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Arts Midwest

Filling the Well: A Podcast for Creative Changemakers

A new podcast series features stories from artists and leaders to harness creativity to shift power dynamics, avoid burn-out, and build authentic community.

Barr’s Arts & Creativity program is deeply committed to capacity building for the field, and we know how much expertise is held by artists and community leaders who engage in this work every day. We are thrilled to support ArtsMidwest to develop this new storytelling podcast where artists and leaders from around the country can come together to share ideas, successful models, and lessons learned with their peers.

“Filling the Well” covers a fascinating range of topics, many of which are all too familiar to our partners. The questions that animate our field also have deep resonance with how we all live now: How can we build back better? How can we continue to advance our commitments to racial equity? How can we imagine a future where artists and arts organizations can take more artistic risk? How can we ensure our programs are relevant to and engaging more diverse communities? How can we do all this and continue to practice self-care and avoid burnout? The “Filling the Well” team raises these questions head-on and explores how to manage through this unprecedented time.

The last couple of years have been incredibly hard. The reckoning that happened in the arts sector as a result of the pandemic and racial justice uprisings forced organizations to reconsider their common practices and reimagine anew– often without a roadmap. Amid all this upheaval, we’ve struggled to know how best to care for our communities. Now is the perfect time to take a step back to call out some leading-edge practices that can inspire arts leaders as we enter the third year of the global pandemic and fight the urge to “return to normal.” So, what’s next? Let’s start by Filling the Well.

In this new podcast series, you will hear from ten creative changemakers as they share their takes on how to harness creativity by shifting power dynamics, avoiding burn-out, building authentic community, sharing resources, and advocating for support.

Filling the Well is hosted by award-winning journalist Marianne Combs. “It’s been such a pleasure to have these conversations with some of the most creative minds in the field,” said Combs. “I hope artists and arts administrators will find the Filling the Well series both useful and inspiring as they navigate the challenges and opportunities of this unique moment in history.”

With each podcast episode, you’ll find links to explore these ideas further in the Arts Midwest Ideas Hub. Be the first to hear about new episodes and resources by signing up for the Arts Midwest newsletter and checking the box Professional Development Tools.

Explore Upcoming Episodes

Episode 1: Resiliency, Self-Care, and Joy
February 28

Creativity can be an antidote to challenging times, but we can’t show up for our communities if we’re burnt out. Dive into the art of taking care of you with two radical self-care strategists, Dr. Joi Lewis and Joe Davis. After the episode, go deeper and explore ways to put self-care at the core of your organization’s culture.

Episode 2: Shifting Power Dynamics in Philanthropy
March 7

For any non-profit, funding is a perpetual worry. But what if philanthropy shifted power and encouraged organizations and communities to dream big? Explore trust-based funding models with two thought leaders, DeAnna Cummings and Tish Jones. After the episode, go deeper and consider how you could shift power and unlock creativity in your organization and beyond.

Episode 3: Building Belonging & Creating Welcoming Organizations
March 14

What does it mean to be a truly welcoming organization and how can arts leaders be more inclusive hosts who foster belonging? Dig into a discussion with two artists who regularly tackle these questions, Ananya Chatterjea and Marcus Young. After the episode, go deeper and explore tangible tools to apply in your own spaces.

Episode 4: Advocating for the Arts
March 21

At a time when there’s so much need, how can we best advocate for the arts and make changes that last? For two leading advocates, Emily Ruddock and Michelle Ramos, the answer is to start by showing up for others first. After the episode, explore more about how you can shift to solidarity and make meaningful changes to improve everyday lives. 

Episode 5: Resource Sharing & Authentic Community Collaborations
March 28

Have a challenge that needs a creative solution? Rural arts practitioners Ashley Hanson and Anne O’Keefe-Jackson have a simple idea: ask your neighbor! Learn about their collaborations and ideas to improve quality of life through resource-sharing. Spoiler, you can do it too! After the episode, go deeper into ways to test these approaches in your own community. 

Filling the Well Production Team
Host: Marianne Combs
Producer: Emily Goldberg
Master Mix: Eric Romani
Original Music: Dameun Strange
Cover Art: Blackbird Revolt

Learn more about the podcast

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SueEllen Kroll

Senior Program Officer, Arts & Creativity

Torrie Allen

Guest Author President & CEO Arts Midwest