April 1, 2019

Arts and Culture Advocacy Series: Kate Luchini

by cns2020

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The Arts and Culture Advocacy Series features voices in the community who are actively working to promote arts and culture as an essential and valuable part of business, community, and daily life. 

Tell us a bit about yourself and what role you play in the creative community?

As Salem’s Planner for Arts & Culture, I strive to elevate and advance creativity in the City and region. Salem is already a great example of a community that has embraced the arts.  With the success of PEM, the Punto Urban Art Museum, Haunted Happenings and more, the city is enjoying a cultural Renaissance that I hope inspires others.  Experiencing the positive impact of art and culture in Salem, Lynn, and across the region, I have become something of a “cultural crusader”—I won’t stop until every community prioritizes creativity!

Why do you feel the arts, culture, and creativity are important?

I think of arts, culture, and creativity as the connective tissue of communities, holding everything together.  In spite of our differences, art can unite us.

As the notion of what constitutes “arts and culture” expands, it has become even more inclusive.  Creative storefronts, tattoo parlors, pocket parks, cyphers, tape art installations – there are so many examples of creativity that enliven our environment and enrich our lives and it’s only getting more interesting.

How do you feel arts, culture, and creativity most profoundly impact your personal and/or business life?

As with many people who are committed to arts development, I started as an artist, banging iron in a horse barn in New Mexico.  Making art has always been an essential form of self-expression, and I still maintain a studio practice at the Lydia Pinkham Building in Lynn (a great arts community).  My passion for art has dictated the course of my career, driving me to do all I can to ensure that creativity thrives and, by association, benefits the people and places I love.  I can’t imagine high school without art class, cities without public art, my performer son without his “theater family,” and so on.

I was reminded of the necessity of art while leading Studio XL at Montserrat, a program designed to prepare students for success in the creative economy.  A million years ago as an art-obsessed high school student, I took night classes at Montserrat, a step towards independence that helped me to prepare my portfolio and move away to college.

Returning to Montserrat, I was re-energized to work with a passionate, new generation of artists for whom life and art are synonymous.  It was rewarding to help them to make a similarly important transition in their life and hopefully they will carry on the tradition.

Share with us one event or initiative that falls under the arts, culture, creativity umbrella that you are really excited about and want to share with readers?

I’m excited about the upcoming Crossing Water festivalspearheaded by Montserrat College of Art, in partnership with the cities of Beverly and Salem and supported by a grant from the Essex County Community Foundation’s Creative County Initiative. For one week in September, Montserrat will light the underside of the Beverly/Salem bridge and engage both communities with a variety of cultural activities to forge connections and celebrate their shared maritime history.  From live music to drive-in movies, poetry and dance classes on the water, the festival will have something for everyone and be open to all.

Growing up on the North Shore, I have vivid memories of sitting in our car on the bridge, watching boats pass and waiting for the drawbridge to close so we could continue on our way.  While no longer a drawbridge, it remains symbolic that many coastal towns are separated by water, and “crossing the bridge” is still seen as an obstacle. I love the way the Crossing Water project breaks down old barriers and forges new connections between communities. And the view from the bridge still inspires me!

What would be one thing you would like to relay/request of future creative thinking business owners and leaders?

Think outside the box!  The most impactful  projects are often the result of non-traditional partnerships.  Through the years, I have embraced collaborations with many businesses and non-profits that would not consider themselves part of the creative community.  For instance, at the Lynn Museum I developed More Than a Number, an exhibition that shared the stories of Lynn’s Khmer Rouge genocide survivors, in partnership with the Lynn Community Health Center.  The Health Center helped us to establish relationships with patients who wanted to share their stories, aided with translation so we could present the exhibit in English as well as oral and written Khmer, and provided counseling support to the community throughout a very emotional, but impactful, project.

I think of arts, culture, and creativity as the connective tissue of communities, holding everything together.  In spite of our differences, art can unite us.

– Kate Luchini

How do you feel that being a member/partner of Creative Collective gives you the tools and support to reach your hopes and aspirations for the creative community?

I would be hamstrung without the support of the Creative Collective.  They are an invaluable resource and connector, helping to expand the reach and improve the quality of Salem Public Art.  Our annual Mural Slam, for instance, owes its success to the Collective’s assistance in sourcing talent and promoting the festival.  I don’t know how they do it, but somehow the Collective team are everywhere!  I rely on them to keep me informed and to champion Salem Public Art.