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A Farewell Message from Anita Walker

Anita Walker, Executive Director

Anita Walker

Bye bye

Endings are beginnings. As we wrap up our 13 years together, masked and digitized, in buildings closed by COVID and wrestling with how to shut down once and for all the structures of systemic racism, we face the daunting task of recovering, rebuilding, and renewing the cultural landscape of Massachusetts.

I see neither trepidation nor defeat. Only innovation and resolve. Because we know that the unprecedented challenge of rebuilding the economy and the health and well-being of our communities cannot be done without us. Without you.

When communities are devastated with the exodus of manufacturing and the companies that had employed generations of families, it is the artist entrepreneurs who bring new hope and vitality.

When our children are eager to explore, experiment, and create it is the teaching artist who brings new perspectives into the classroom​, engaging creative minds eager to learn.

When we are vexed by a novel virus or the dissonant noise of disinformation, it is science that will make us safe and tell us the truth.

When an epidemic of isolation and loneliness leaves millions facing depression, even suicide, it is the arts and culture that lessens the pain, fortifies the heart, and rebuilds the connection with people and purpose.

And when the nation finally looks racism squarely in the face and doesn’t flinch, it will be the arts and culture that leads, through trips and falls and getting back up and pushing and stretching and failing again until we dismantle the ironclad structures that have held up a legacy of white dominance for generations.

We will give up the power of privilege. We will enhance the power of culture. And we will make that power more honest and true.

Endings are beginnings.

We mourn the deaths. We feel the struggle. We hate the hate. This motivates the work. And compels us to begin again. As the Mass Cultural Council is doing now.

Recover, Rebuild, Renew. That is the focus of our work ahead. Working with you to find the resources necessary to dig out of the financial hole left by COVID. Working together to rebuild our organizations as an integral part of Massachusetts economic recovery and the restoration of our individual and collective sense of health and well-being. And renewing aspiration coupled with action to dispatch the baggage of prejudice and discrimination that are embedded in our Colonial collections, making them just a thread in the rich fabric of story that the arts and culture steward.

Our staff and Council leadership are building new systems that will hold all of us accountable. Our Council Chair Nina Fialkow, Vice Chair Marc Carroll and leadership team David Slatery, Jen Lawless, and Bethann Steiner will make sure we meet the challenge.

The Mass Cultural Council as a state agency is strong because of you. The Mass Cultural Council centers service as its strength because we learn and serve together. And the Mass Cultural Council is anchored on a foundation of trust. Trust built on shared values and mutual respect.

It has been my greatest honor to have worked alongside all of you for the past 13 years.

This is hardly an ending.

It’s the edge of a new beginning.

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