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ArtsFairfax brings professional artists to community with expanded residency program

ArtsFairfax has expanded its residency program (via ArtsFairfax)

ArtsFairfax, the county’s designated arts agency, is expanding its artist residency program for 2022-2023 throughout the county.

Through a $55,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, the residency program will place performing and visual artists at county parks, libraries, schools, community centers, and affordable housing complexes.

“Everything we do to increase access to the arts is rooted in the belief that meaningful arts experiences are transformative for all of us, regardless of age or lived experiences,” ArtsFairfax President and CEO Linda S. Sullivan said. “We are so grateful to the County agencies for their partnership in helping ArtsFairfax expand our reach into the communities that need it the most.”

ArtsFairfax started the residency program as an effort to improve access to artistic opportunities for marginalized communities throughout the county. It also provides education and community engagement training to professional local artists.

This year marks a return for the residency program, which limited activities after COVID-19 hit in 2020.

“In recent years because of Covid, we had a few virtual programs in senior centers and middle schools,” an ArtsFairfax spokesperson said. “In the year ahead, we will be in person at a broader range of locations reflecting the needs of areas identified by the County as being underserved in formal arts programming.”

For the 2022-2023 year, resident artists from a variety of disciplines will provide free, interactive programming at five different locations.

ArtsFairfax has partnered with the county’s public schools and library systems, Neighborhood and Community Services, the park authority, and nonprofit Wesley Housing for the program.

Participants will work alongside the artists, whose residencies range from one to four months.

“Arts and humanities go hand-in-hand to spark the imagination and nurture creativity. We’re thrilled to launch ArtsFairfax Artist Residencies at the John Marshall Library to inspire and engage the community with visual art,” Kevin Osborne, deputy library director of Fairfax County Public Library, said.

Registration for the artist residency at John Marshall Library in Rose Hill opens tomorrow.

Scollon, a visual artist based in Fairfax, said she sees art as a tool for promoting empathy and attested to the transformative impact of working with students.

“I’ve worked with all ages on creating carved ceramic relief tiles inspired by personal stories,” she said. “It has been remarkable and joyful to see middle school students participate so openly and to see older adults illustrate important memories and life events.”

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