michael delgado
PHOTO CONTRIBUTED BY RAY JOHNSON
ONE OF THE ARTISTS — Award-winning Senegalese artist Michel Delgado gave a talk about his art as part of the Fall Festival of the Arts DeLand’s Black Artists Speaker Series. You can watch Delgado’s talk and the others on the festival’s website, www.fallfestivaloftheartsdeland.com.

Last year, the Fall Festival of the Arts DeLand added a Diversity and Inclusivity Committee to its planning roster. The goal, members said, was to highlight artists from minority communities and bring more people into the fold of the local arts community.

A year later, and with another year of the Black Art, Artists and History Speaker Series down, the committee is feeling good.

Committee Member Barb Girtman said she believes the art community responded very well to the speaker series, and she was happy to see new faces recognized locally.

Going forward, the committee plans to make some changes. For one, they plan to move the artists’ talks off of weekdays and onto the weekends.

“We decided this year, for 2023, to have it on a Sunday afternoon,” Committee Member Donna Gray-Banks said. “After people have kind of gone to church, maybe the football game’s almost over, or you can come between football games.”

Girtman said the same. By moving the talks to the weekends, she hopes they can capture even more art lovers and their families.

“We’re going to try to make it a little more inclusive in terms of telling stories we think are important to different ages, ranges and cultures,” Girtman said. “It’s a work in progress.”

Another way the committee plans to make its inclusion programs even more inclusive is by further diversifying.

“It really spurred off of the concern for how Black artists could participate,” Girtman said. “I think it’s going to expand beyond that going forward, but still with an emphasis on the Black culture, because we feel like that’s been lacking.”

She continued, “Diversity isn’t only in bringing in Black culture.”

The diversity initiative by the Fall Festival and the Museum of Art – DeLand is just one part of a larger mission to promote diversity in DeLand and beyond, Girtman said. In the future, she hopes the Fall Festival committee can work with other museums in the area and shift to a greater, more regional message. But for now, the committee’s mission to make the local art world a more equitable place is still underway.

“When you see a diverse environment, you’re like, ‘OK, everybody is welcome.’ To me, that’s what’s important,” Girtman said. “We want them to know that the Museum of Art – DeLand enjoys art, and it enjoys the diversity of art through different textures, but also different artists and different perspectives.”

To read more about the Fall Festival of the Arts DeLand, including a schedule, list of exhibits and event map please visit: The Fall Festival of the Arts Deland program.

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