Creative Exchange Conference

October 4, 2023

Speakers & Panelists

Michael J. Bobbitt | he, him | Fireside Chat

The Executive Director of Mass Cultural Council (MCC), Michael is the highest-ranking cultural official in Massachusetts state government. A theater director, choreographer, and playwright with a distinguished career as an arts leader, Michael was tapped to helm the state agency in February 2021. In that capacity, he has led MCC through the development of its first-ever Racial Equity Plan; worked with staff, Council Members, and cultural sector advocates to secure and distribute a historic $60.1M in state pandemic relief funding; and oversaw the drafting and adoption of the agency’s FY24-FY26 strategic plan. He currently serves on the Board of Directors for the New England Foundation for the Arts (NEFA) and the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies’ (NASAA).

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Matthew Mazzotta | he, him | Morning Keynote

Matthew works at the intersection of art, activism, and urbanism, focusing on the power of the built environment to shape our relationships and experiences. His community-specific public projects integrate new forms of civic participation and social engagement, revealing how the spaces we travel through and spend our time living within have the potential to become distinct sites for intimate, radical, and meaningful exchanges. Through his process, each project starts by creating temporary public spaces for listening as a way to capture voices from local people that might not attend more formal meetings. Stemming from this approach are experiences that involve people from a range of backgrounds working together to create new models of living that contribute to local culture beyond the economic realm.

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Ben Cunningham | he, him | Afternoon Breakout Session: Storytelling

Ben is a multifaceted artist and storyteller whose recent story aired on the Growing Up Black episode of Stories from the Stage, a nationally televised collaboration between WORLD Channel, WGBH, and Tell & Act. The episode was a 2021 winner of the 25th Annual Webby Awards in Virtual & Remote: Arts & Culture. Ben is the only two-time winner (2011 and 2017) of Boston’s leading, local storytelling championship — The Big Mouth Off with Massmouth. Ben has performed at the Philly Book and Science Fair, the Norman Rockwell Museum, the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston, and at The Art of Storytelling at Tufts University. His performance on Story Collider — true, personal stories about science — was featured on WBUR’s The ARTery. The tone of Ben’s work is ever-expanding, ranging from humorous to heartfelt stories about bullying, childhood nostalgia, coming-of-age, and loss. It clashes between subculture and pop culture, interweaving topics of race, gender, and other social issues.

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Sharon Polli | she, her | Plan the Work, Work the Plan: Strategic Planning

Sharon was appointed Executive Director of the Fine Arts Work Center (FAWC) in spring 2021. Sharon previously was the Executive Vice President of BRIC in Brooklyn, NY, a leading arts, cultural, and media institution in the heart of the Brooklyn Cultural District. Sharon has dedicated her professional career to advancing artistic voices and creating opportunities for emerging and mid-career artists, performers, and media makers. Sharon’s 20-year career has also included serving as the Deputy Executive Director of Groundswell, New York’s leading community public art organization as well as the Editor of CreateNYC, New York City’s first-ever city-wide Cultural Plan which was developed through a public engagement process that reached 200,000 participants. She served as an Executive Committee Board member of the Downtown Brooklyn Arts Alliance and Co-Chair of the Board of Directors of Theatre of the Oppressed NYC, an organization which partners with communities fighting against oppression to inspire transformative action through theatre. Sharon is a Coro Leadership New York alumni and graduate of Carleton College.

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Rick Miller | he, him | How Rejection Will Make You a Better Artist

Rick is a psychotherapist/hypnotherapist in private practice, sought-after public speaker, organizational facilitator, and author. He pioneered the creation of mind-body and hypnotic scripts for gay men, writing the first book exploring the topic. He was one of the first clinicians to teach and speak about gay male sexuality in mental health circles and continues to work with gay couples in various relational configurations. He is host of the Secrets of the Masters online video series; the founder and executive director of a nonprofit organization, Gay Sons And Mothers; and co-host of the podcast Modern Couples: What Your Therapist Never Told You. He is a frequent speaker at mental health and general conferences for a myriad of academic, professional, mainstream, and community-based organizations worldwide. Last year, he was tapped to give a TEDx Provincetown talk, speaking about the central role that mothers play in our lives.

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Rebecca McGee Tuck | she, her | How Artists Build Equitable Empathetic Communities

Rebecca is a fiber artist, sculptor, and an ocean activist. Her work is a visual narrative of what she accumulates from a throw-away society, giving new life to what others discard. She has shown her art in multiple juried shows throughout the Northeast, including the Fitchburg Art Museum, Viridian Arts in New York City, the PEG Center for Art and Activism in Newburyport, and the George Marshall Store Gallery in York, Maine. Most recently, Tuck returned from an artist residency on Cuttyhunk. She is spending this year as a guest artist at UMass Dartmouth where she is organizing the creation of a massive art collaboration to be created with over 300,000 collected miniature liquor bottles. Her series of work, “Along the Wrack Line,” deals with the overwhelming amount of debris and plastic trash that contaminate New England beaches. Tuck works among her menagerie of rescued litter from her studio at the Mill Contemporary Art Studios in Framingham.

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Brittney Nichols | she, her | Plan the Work, Work the Plan: Strategic Planning

Having recently celebrated her seven-year anniversary at Strategy Matters, Brittney is Director of Creative Capital, supporting an impressive array of corporate, government, and nonprofit clients through change processes. She specializes in helping organizations build more equitable strategies, and is skilled at managing group dynamics, focusing on identifying approaches to help clients develop leadership skills and strong relationships. Brittney works to ensure that clients are experiencing a clear, cohesive, and refined approach to planning. Prior to joining Strategy Matters, Brittney worked with startups and small businesses to engage diverse communities, broker partnerships, and manage customer experience. Brittney has a BA in Business Management and English Communications from Emmanuel College and a certificate in Diversity and Inclusion from Cornell University.

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Christine McCarthy | she,her | How Rejection Will Make You a Better Artist

Since 2001, Christine has led the Provincetown Art Association and Museum (PAAM) as its CEO. In that capacity, she is responsible for all artistic, administrative, fiscal, and strategic directions at PAAM, the largest exhibitor of Cape Cod art created by regional, national, and international artists. For nearly four decades, Christine has worked in numerous galleries and museums across New England, including the Hunt-Cavanagh Gallery at Providence College; the Yale University Art Gallery in New Haven, CT; The Erie Canal Museum in Syracuse, NY; and The Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston. She received a BA from Providence College in 1989 and an MA from Syracuse University in 1992. She has shared her passion for the arts as an adjunct professor at Boston University’s Metropolitan College where she taught Managing a Visual Arts Organization for 12 years.

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Kate Pazakis | she, her | How Rejection Will Make You a Better Artist

In March 2022, Kate was tapped to lead Cape Cod Theatre Company/Harwich Junior Theatre as its Producing Artistic Director. She arrived at the theatre with a wealth of experience acting, writing, producing, and directing shows in Los Angeles. She spent six years on the West Coast serving as the Producing Artistic Director of Rockwell Table & Stage. During that time, she created the “UMPO (Unauthorized Musical Parody Of) Series” which became one of the hottest theatrical series in LA, and was featured on Entertainment Tonight, Access Hollywood Live, and multiple morning shows. Kate was a co-producer of “American Idiot” on the West End in London, and she produced weekly shows in LA for Jeff Goldblum and Ross Matthews. As a singer, she has performed with several notables in the music industry, including Carole King, Cyndi Lauper, Kristin Chenoweth, and Rosie O’Donnell. Her acting career has brought her to Broadway, Carnegie Hall, off-Broadway, and she has appeared in a number of national commercials. Her favorite job? A guest star on Comedy Central’s animated series, “South Park.”

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Lillian Hsu | she, her | The Potential of Public Art

Lillian has been Director of Public Art and Exhibitions at Cambridge Arts since 2006. In that capacity, she manages the City of Cambridge’s Percent-for-Art program and conceives, facilitates, and implements temporary projects and programs that benefit the public. Lillian directs exhibitions and educational projects in the City’s Gallery 344 that aim to deepen public understanding of how artists work and contemporary themes related to the public realm. She also Lworks with numerous partners in the public and private sectors to support, advocate for, and implement initiatives that bring the arts in a variety of forms into daily life for all.

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Mark Adams | he, him | How Artists Build Equitable Empathetic Communities Panelist

There isn’t much that Mark Adams doesn’t do well. The 2023 AFCC Artist of the Year, Mark is a painter, printmaker, illustrator, environmental advocate, scientist, volunteer, and educator. At the beginning of this year, he was tapped by the Center for Coastal Studies as its first-ever Scientist/Artist-In-Residence. Prior to that, he served as a cartographer with the National Park Service for 30 years. Mark exhibits regularly at The Schoolhouse Gallery in Provincetown, where he has focused on works of art that use layered images of maps, personal notebook pages, text, data, and images of animals and friends in light accumulation on paper and wood panels. He is continually striving to create work that focuses on ideas and objects that imperfectly represent the nature of our society, harvesting curiosity, wonderment, and a little biology as his source material. In 2022, the Provincetown Art Association and Museum presented Mark with an Award for Individual Artistic Excellence.

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David Kuehn | he, him | Plan the Work, Work the Plan: Strategic Planning

In March 2010, David arrived at the Cotuit Center for the Arts as its new executive director, eager to spearhead an initiative to introduce the public to one of the Cape’s undiscovered cultural gems. More than 13 years later, he has accomplished all that and more on a 7.5-acre campus bustling with artistic activity. During his tenure, David has transformed Cotuit into, “a place where artistic expression is celebrated. It’s a place to feed your soul.” A native of Indiana, he left the heartland in 1979 to pursue a degree in music performance from UCLA. His passion for and experience in all art forms was rooted during his early days in California where he played in composer Daniel Lentz’s ensemble. In Los Angeles, Kuehn worked with an array of music visionaries that included Philip Glass, John Adams, The Kronos Quartet, Franco Assetto. and more. In 1993, he relocated to New York City, eventually running the classical music division of RCA records, guiding recording projects by such luminaries as Leontyne Price, Van Cliburn, Michael Tilson Thomas, Denyce Graves, Max Vengerov and the Boston Pops. That same year, David and his husband Alan Trugman took up seasonal residence on the Cape before moving here full-time in 2000. He is a former Chairman of the GALE fund; sits on the board of the Massachusetts Nonprofit Network; is a teaching Fellow for the Institute for Nonprofit Practice; has volunteered for several organizations on the Cape; and does his best to remain an avid cyclist.

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Sarah Johnson | she,her | The Potential of Public Art, Moderator

Since 2016, Sarah Johnson has served as the Executive Director of the Cahoon Museum of American Art. Sarah has devoted her career to engaging and inspiring audiences through arts and culture in the museum field. During her time at the Cahoon Museum, Sarah has focused on growing the museum as a leading Cape Cod and regional arts organization. With her demonstrated creative imagination and skill, she envisions new ways to connect the Cahoon Museum’s historical collections with contemporary ideas and practices, such as experimenting with how to make the permanent collection and gallery spaces into more dynamic experiences.

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Jackie deRuyter | she,her | How Rejection Will Make You a Better Artist, Moderator

Jackie is a sculptural artist living and working in Brewster, MA. She works primarily in fiber but often incorporates mixed media into her work. Prior to her life in the studio she was trained and worked as a scientist, studying and teaching cell biology both in Connecticut and on Cape Cod. When not in her studio, Jackie spends time with her husband, Ben, and three children. She is also an avid runner and pianist.

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Al Wilson | The Potential of Public Art

Beyond Walls was founded in 2016 as a volunteer-driven, grassroots initiative by Executive Director Al Wilson. The organization was created in response to a third party Downtown Action Strategy calling for increased public art and improved walkability in the community. A non-profit placemaking agency that uses a creative lens to address community needs with work that revolves around the mission to activate spaces to strengthen communities.

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Ellice Patterson | How Artists Build Equitable Empathetic Communities

Ellice Patterson is the founder/ executive and artistic director of Abilities Dance, a Boston-based dance company that welcomes artists with and without disabilities. She is currently an artist in residence with the City of Boston’s transportation department, using dance as a way to promote more accessibility on the streets and sidewalks of the city. She has also served as the executive director of BalletRox 2020 - 2022, a Boston-based dance education program to provide access to high quality dance education to youth within Boston Public Schools/external partners and in our after-school program in Jamaica Plain. Outside of self-produced Abilities Dance's shows, her choreography has appeared in the MFA, Links Hall in Chicago, Gibney Dance in NYC, The Series: Vol IV at the Ailey Citigroup Theatre in NYC, and more.

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Anne Scott-Putney | Plan the Work, Work the Plan - Strategic Planning, Moderator

Anne Scott-Putney is President & CEO at Heritage Museums & Gardens, the largest cultural attraction on Cape Cod, and the largest botanic garden in Southern New England. In a previous life, she was a consultant to nonprofits, including on strategic planning. At Heritage, she led her team through an extensive strategic planning process to guide the organization’s work from 2020-2024. That resulted in the opening of the McGraw Family Garden of the Senses, the first healing garden on Cape Cod, the expansion of The Hundred Acre School to welcome 70 STEM students in grades PreK through Grade 2 each year, and the integration of DEAI principles into all aspects of Heritage’s exhibitions and work. Now she is preparing to break ground in 2024 on the new Welcome Center at Heritage, an 8,000 square foot facility that will transform the visitor experience. Anne holds a Masters degree in Museum Studies from Harvard Extension School, an MBA from the Wharton School, and an AB in history from Dartmouth College.

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