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Cultural Emergency Response

BSA Symposium Concept refresh opt 2 5 01

Graphic By: Horton Iconic Designs

  • COST

    Free for BSA and BosNOMA members, $20 nonmembers

  • TYPE





    1.5 LU HSW AIA credits available

This event is part of Intersections: Equity, Environment + the City, a multi-day symposium November 6–13, 2021 brought to you by BosNOMA and Women in Design on intersectional and participatory design processes in Boston. View the full symposium schedule here.

About the Session

“A cultural emergency is a state of instability and danger affecting a range of people, places, and events. It stems from the cultural practices and philosophies prevalent in societies. Cultural emergencies are urgent, and often have contributing factors that are difficult to halt. When overlooked, cultural emergencies compound. This increases peoples’ susceptibility to hazards, and limits collective resiliency."
- Erin Genia

Climate change, the COVID-19 pandemic, the Black Lives Matter movement, the re-examination of public art and monuments across the nation, and other cultural, social, and economical crises demand creative and humanizing approaches that heal people and build communication between historically disinvested communities and government.

Artists working inside government help reveal, disrupt, and redesign inequitable systems that developed from colonial values and racist policies. Artist Erin Genia will share her experience as a former Boston Artist-in-Residence with the City of Boston, working with the Office of Emergency Management. Drawing upon her perspective as a Dakota person, she developed a framework for pushing the City to understand the notion of a “cultural emergency” and think beyond immediate crisis response towards cultural organizing strategies that create long-term health and safety for diverse communities.

Boston AIR’s Leadership Team will share lessons learned about program design and structuring successful partnerships from four iterations of AIR, and reflect on how partnerships between artists and municipalities strengthen City systems and support governments in better serving residents. Participants will be asked to think deeply about the learning objectives and consider ways to implement learnings in their own work through an interactive session.


Erin Genia
Artist, Educator and Organizer, Former Boston AIR

Erin Genia (Sisseton-Wahpeton Dakota) is a multidisciplinary artist, educator and organizer whose practice merges cultural imperatives, pure expression and material exploration with the conceptual to amplify the powerful presence of Native American and Indigenous peoples on the occupied lands of the US, in the arts, sciences, and public realm. Genia has an MPA in Tribal Governance from the Evergreen State College and an MS in Art, Culture and Technology from MIT. She has recently exhibited her work at the Venice Biennale, Ars Electronica, and the International Space Station. Erin served as an artist in residence for the City of Boston’s Office of Emergency Management from 2020-2021.

Sharon Amugini
Program Manager, Boston Artists-in-Residence (AIR)

Sharon Amuguni is the Boston Artists-in-Residence Program Manager. Ms. Amuguni is responsible for leading the operations of the program. She oversees all correspondence, coordinates meetings and events, and documents program progress. As Program Manager, she supports content creation, such as the development of RFQs and program curriculum. She’s worked with the program in various roles during its second and third years. Ms. Amuguni is also a poet and was featured in Mass Poetry’s Raining Poetry project, where an excerpt from her poem, "Ghost" was stenciled outside the JP Public Library. She has a master's degree in Civic Media Art and Practice from Emerson College.