Maura is one of our four new team members joining EmcArts this year. Read more about our team on our website.
Maura Cuffie is a new New Yorker committed to understanding and exploring change processes in various forms. Her study of sociology, images, and identity politics in Philadelphia led her to the non-profit arts field. Before joining the team at EmcArts, she worked with the City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program where she developed a deep desire to work in the intersection of social change and the arts. She carries out multi-disciplinary, socially-engaged and dialogic practices through The Free Breakfast Program, an arts organization that is inspired by the Black Panthers’ legacy of revolutionary humanism. She is currently a Create Change Fellow with The Laundromat Project.
In the fall of 2013, she began working with EmcArts to support the implementation of our first National Innovation Summit for Arts and Culture. She now coordinates all office operations including finance, human resources, and office management and serves as a direct support to Managing Director, Melissa Dibble. At EmcArts, Maura is able to feed her desires to learn about change-making in action and to support and leverage the strengths of her team for innovation and adaptive change.
Who and what inspires you to work towards innovation and adaptive change in the arts?
There are so many practitioners, artists, scholars who push my thinking forward just by their existence. I’m thinking particularly about Rick Lowe’s Project Row Houses and Open A.I.R. Artist Services Program at the Queens Museum. Both programs/projects exist within a somewhat traditional framework, a 501c3, a museum, an arts institution, but manage to transform the role of an artist into something far from traditional. Artists in these programs are seen as cultural innovators and social activists who make major shifts in the landscape towards equity.
What do you wish you could see more of in the arts and social sectors?
I would love to see more examples of interdisciplinary practice done well. Specifically within the realm of socially engaged art, which seems like an area that is inherently interdisciplinary but needs to move beyond representation and into action. In addition I believe we need more stories championed by those directly affected by change! The arts and social change sectors have plenty of practitioners with the right “chops,” but I’d love to see us pass the microphone.