ArtsConnection Executive Director, Rachel Watts, Honored by City College; and Presents at Williams College

This month our Executive Director, Rachel Watts, receives honor for her work on behalf of NYC’s youth and the Arts Education field.

On May 16th at a ceremony held at Aaron Davis Hall, Rachel was honored with the 2023 City College Arts Education Spotlight Award “for the work done to uplift equity, justice, and community in arts education in New York City… [and] contributions to nurture community and to advocate for the arts [which] has served as a guiding star for so many.” In particular, Rachel was honored for her relentless work during the early days of COVID to initiate the #ArtsAreEssential campaign to advocate for the continuation of arts programming online during that very difficult time.

As she spoke to the City College graduating class, she encouraged them to “keep being curious, keep learning, keep asking questions” and she thanked them for answering the call to continue to stretch and challenge the field to investigate more ways to be equitable and advocate for the work.

Watts presents at Women of Williams Conference at Williams College

On May 20th, Rachel spoke at the Women of Williams conference at her alma mater, Williams College, in Massachusetts. The conference commemorated more than 50 years of coeducation at Williams. As President Maud S. Mandel put it, “Women have made a profound impact on Williams and beyond. I am delighted that, as a college community, we are shining light on our women leaders and recognizing their wide-ranging contributions, all of which make me proud to belong to the Williams family.”

In her presentation for the session titled “Opening Doors, Creating Spaces: Making Arts Accessible,” Rachel highlighted the disparities in access to quality arts education throughout the NYC education system* and the current state of NYC workforce demographics**, as well as the amazing work being done at ArtsConnection toward undoing these systemic, generations-long inequities.

Rachel shared 3 goals from our 2022-2025 Strategic Plan:

  • Deepen our work with young people with longer and multi-year programming
  • Advocate for the field through harnessing our years of expertise
  • Shift organizational structure to one that is more community led

There is still a lot of work ahead and ArtsConnection remains at the forefront of innovation in this work.

PHOTO CREDIT (top, left to right): Director of Art Education and Associate Professor of Art and Museum Education at City College of New York (CUNY), Dr. Marit Dewhurst; ArtsConnection Executive Director, Rachel Watts; and Director at the Graduate Program in Educational Theatre at City College of New York (CUNY), Sobha Kavanakudiyil.
PHOTO CREDIT (bottom):  ArtsConnection Executive Director, Rachel Watts at Williams College
PHOTOGRAPHER: Danielle Deane
* State of the Arts Report, Bureau of Policy and Research, 2014
** DCLA/SMU DataArts Report, 2019