“ I think it is incredibly important to always remember that art can not save us. Art will not save us. Art is not the means... art is not the vehicle that changes the material lived conditions of people's lives." — Deana Haggag In today's...
“ I think it is incredibly important to always remember that art can not save us. Art will not save us. Art is not the means... art is not the vehicle that changes the material lived conditions of people's lives." — Deana Haggag
In today's episode, we're speaking with Deana Haggag (@dhaggag), Program Officer at the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. She's also the former President & CEO of United States Artists where she helped develop Artist Relief, a $25 million emergency initiative to support artists facing dire financial circumstances due to COVID-19.
We're also joined by Shreya Patel, model turned writer, actress, and filmmaker who is my co-founder on the lovespreads.org project (this podcast was originally recorded for that, and is being published on Conscious Creators). Here are some of the topics we discuss:
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"And it's just really, the magnitude of this moment hits me every day. Years from now, we'll be looking back at these heroes who are just fighting with their lives to change our country. And so I think my particular context is about time. That we have opened the doors on these very critical conversations as an entire nation” - Deana Haggag
“I guess I feel like what artists do for me is they, they make language, they tell stories. They document what it was like to be alive at any particular moment. So much of what we know about other civilizations and other times, and other people is like via the mechanism that is art-making right.” - Deana Haggag
“And right now a lot of families and a lot of institutions and a lot of politicians need a new language and a new story and a new way to frame the world. And I think artists can frame for us the things we never thought possible. The things we actually could not see by the mechanism of how they make things in the world.” - Deana Haggag
“Art can't solve the world's problems, but art can hold it.” - Deana Haggag
About Our Guests
Deana Haggag is a Program Officer in Arts and Culture at The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
Prior to joining the foundation in May 2021, she was the President & CEO of United States Artists, a national arts funding organization based in Chicago, IL. During her tenure, USA saw unprecedented growth, expanding its Fellowship award program, launching the Berresford Prize, and developing coalition efforts to advance support for individual artists most notably including Artist Relief, a $25 million emergency initiative to support artists facing dire financial circumstances due to COVID-19, and Disability Futures, an initiative aimed at increasing the visibility of disabled creative practitioners across disciplines and geography and elevating their voices individually and collectively. Before joining USA in February 2017, she was the Executive Director of The Contemporary, a nomadic and non-collecting art museum in Baltimore, MD, for four years.
In addition to her leadership roles, Deana lectures extensively, consults on various art initiatives, contributes to cultural publications, and has taught at institutions such as Johns Hopkins University and Towson University. She is on the Boards of The Underground Museum and Pillars Fund, as well as the Artistic Director's Council of Prospect.5 and Advisory Council of Recess. She received her MFA in Curatorial Practice from the Maryland Institute College of Art and a BA from Rutgers University in Art History and Philosophy. Additionally, she completed the National Arts Strategies Chief Executive Program in 2020, Stanford Impact Program for Arts Leaders in 2018, and was a Salzburg Global Fellow for Young Cultural Innovators in 2015. Among other honors, she was most recently named a 2020 YBCA 100 Honoree.
She is a disabled first-generation Egyptian-American Muslim woman of Afro-Arab descent. She currently lives on Munsee Lenape land, known today as Brooklyn, New York.
Her directorial debut, the documentary Girl Up, brings light to domestic violence and human trafficking in Toronto and has been partnered with Toronto International Film Festival to showcase at Civic Action Summit.
During this pandemic, she has gathered 66 countries made a documentary called Unity - #LOVESPREADS Faster Than Virus showcasing the plight of the human spirit.
Following Unity, Shreya directed a music video called Freedom Dance which hit over 12 million views on YouTube. The music video features a global cast showcasing what their inner freedom looks like during the lockdown. Rolling Stones India has reported about it too.
Currently, she is working on a web series called Layla is Relevant.