Our next Guild Spotlight is Eepi Chaad (she/her), Director of Partnerships & Learning at Arts Connect Houston!
Arts Connect Houston is a collective impact organization, bringing together a collective of 90+ non-profit Arts & Culture partner organizations, leaders at all levels of the Houston Independent School District, local and regional leaders, funders, and community members to ensure that students have access to an arts-rich education.
We recently reached out to Eepi to learn more about how her organization amplifies and connects the people of Houston. Learn more about their collaborative and empowering work below:
Hi Eepi! Please tell us a bit about yourself, and what motivates the work you do day-to-day.
Hi y’all! My name is Eepi Chaad. I’m a practicing multidisciplinary artist, naturalist, and cultural worker. I’m a Bengali-Texani, a Houston native, and use she/her pronouns. I’m a storyteller at heart. As a creative myself, I am drawn to work as an arts administrator in community arts settings because it brings me joy to make space for expression and provide support for folks as they tap into their own creativity.
How has community arts education supported in healing and/or meeting the needs of your community?
I believe that community arts education is the vehicle that brings folks together both in and across communities. Community arts education serves as a gateway to share, bond, and tackle issues that we are experiencing. It is the great connector that makes space for us to see each other as people who may have differences, but at the core are all a part of humanity.
High school students at the State of the Arts in Education Symposium. Photo Credit: Alex Barber
What are some challenges that your organization is currently facing?
Arts Connect Houston is committed to ensuring that every child in Houston ISD has access to an arts-rich education, which includes having fine arts educators on campuses. Houston is facing the same struggles with teacher shortages as many communities around the country, as well as uncertainty with the future of our largest school district, and concern around funding for the arts and education as a whole.
What do you love about the work you do, and/or the community you work in?
Connecting! It is in our name. Art Connect Houston serves as a connector for the arts in the Houston community. Houston is the most diverse place in the country, and it is also one of the largest places. It can be easy to work in silos. Our organization brings together arts and culture workers across organizations, disciplines, and geographic areas to share ideas and work together for a common goal. The icing on the cake of what we do is the numerous collaborations across individuals and organizations that have come from Arts Connect, holding space for cultural workers in Houston to come together.
Sometimes we get so busy in this crucial work that we can forget to take time to recognize the wins and the amazing people that we are surrounded with everyday. Well, we are taking time to lift folks up and celebrate!
Do you have any highlights or stories regarding your work that you’d like to share?
Two years ago, Arts Connect Houston began holding the State of the Arts in Education Symposium. In addition to sharing a localized snapshot of arts education, we also include an annual Champion Awards, which honors one educator and one community arts leader each year. The Champion Awards serves to acknowledge leaders in our community who have dedicated their careers and lives to increasing equity in arts education. Sometimes we get so busy in this crucial work that we can forget to take time to recognize the wins and the amazing people that we are surrounded with everyday. Well, we are taking time to lift folks up and celebrate!
What’s in store for you/your organization for the remainder of this year? What are you looking forward to?
2023 is all about making connections at Arts Connect Houston. We are looking forward to bringing together the community in new spaces and lifting up voices. Arts Connect is looking forward to deepening existing relationships and supporting educators and cultural workers through continued learning opportunities, responsive investments, and by simply providing folks room to come together and collaborate.
Lastly, what does community arts education mean to you?
I see community arts education as the tie that binds...and it is all about community. We are stronger together and art is the language that we use to make change in our collective community.
A collection of Houston arts organization logos that represent Arts Connect Houston's 90+ Arts and Culture partners.
If you'd like to be featured as one of our future Guild Spotlights, then be sure to fill out our interest form! If you have any questions on how to do so, please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Published: April 26, 2023