A new program at the National Museum of Women in the Arts won’t just discuss gender inequality in contemporary art. It will try to find solutions that will lead to real equity.
Sunday afternoon’s program, “Righting the Balance: Can there be gender parity in the arts?” is the first installment of a multi-year program addressing the role of women and art in social issues. It’s a logical program for the museum, according to director Susan Fisher Sterling.
“Museums have always been seen as being carriers of truth, platforms for saying important things. We wanted to re-imagine how we could be relevant and responsive to world issues,” Sterling said.
“Women, Arts and Social Change” is a multi-year effort that will gather women leaders in arts, business, education and technology for panel discussions on the intersection of art and social activism. The first event is set for Sunday from 3 to 6 p.m. Participants include artists Ghada Amer, Micol Hebron, curator and author Maura Reilly, editors Jillian Steinhauer and Sarah Douglas and feminist activist Jamia Wilson.
Artist Carrie Mae Weems appears Nov. 15 at 5 p.m. for an hour discussion “Can an artist inspire social change?” Both events will be followed by a two-hour Sunday Supper to allow participants to voice their ideas.
Two more discussions on gender and design and women and technology are scheduled for Wednesdays Jan. 27 and March 2. They will be followed by cocktails. Admission to each event is $25 and $15 for members, seniors and students. The museum is at 1250 New York Ave. NW.
Lorie Mertes, the museum’s director of public programs, described the meal portion as “a social experiment” that will feature social media component, too. “We want (guests) to feel that it is relevant to them … and that they have to opportunity to participate and be heard,” Mertes said. “We want to involve everyone, and take voices from the room and beyond.”
Sterling has raised $500,000 for the initiative, which she hopes will span seven to 10 years. If successful, it will bring the museum’s core principles – arts, women and social action – into the community, she said.
“It takes a while to get something to hook in,” Sterling said. “If you have a steady drumbeat of this program, then you have the ability to have a dialogue and move into action.”