US Water Alliance launches ‘arts and cultural strategies’ to advance water solutions

The US Water Alliance and ArtPlace America have launched a partnership that will bring water experts together with arts and cultural leaders to foster collaboration on the nation’s toughest water challenges.

Long-term trends like population growth, economic development, changing weather patterns, new energy supply strategies, growing income inequality and the needs of endangered ecosystems are threatening to overwhelm both the physical infrastructure and management systems that have previously met our water needs. Acute crises like that in Flint, Michigan, the trio of deadly storms in Texas, Florida, and Puerto Rico and wildfires and drought in the Western states, are just a few visible examples of the water challenges we face.

ArtPlace America and the US Water Alliance share the conviction that arts and culture strategies have the power to transform the way the nation views, values, and manages water. Through this partnership, the organizations will catalogue the best and brightest models and partnerships that are utilizing arts and culture to advance sustainable, integrated and equitable water management in America.

“Across the country there are exciting examples of how US Water Alliance members — from water and wastewater utilities, to conservation organizations, to water reliant businesses — are integrating arts and cultural strategies into their work to secure our water future,” said Radhika Fox, chief executive officer of the US Water Alliance. “These efforts are making our often-invisible water challenges visible, engaging and educating the public in new ways, and transforming communities. We want to shine a light on these successful collaborations and pave a path that advances the integration of art approaches into sustainable water management.”

“ArtPlace is thrilled to embark on this effort with the US Water Alliance. Our research over the last year revealed that there is committed leadership, but also untapped potential, in the water sector to use arts and cultural strategies to advance both environmental and community well-being,” said Jamie Hand, director of research strategies at ArtPlace America. “Our research also surfaced example after example of artists tackling water-related issues in their communities. We hope this partnership catalyzes a longer legacy of deeper exchange and field building across arts, culture, and water practitioners.”

“As cities pursue long-term health and stability, there is nothing more important than ensuring all residents have access to healthful, safe, reliable water,” added Rip Rapson, president and CEO of The Kresge Foundation and Chair of the ArtPlace Presidents’ Council. “There is enormous opportunity to attack that challenge with new eyes by integrating arts, culture, and water policies and practices–and by animating those efforts through community-based decision-making.”

The organizations will develop an action-oriented blueprint for integrating arts and culture into water management, complete with in-depth case studies, which will be released at the One Water Summit 2018 in the Twin Cities, July 10-12.

This new partnership will be guided by a 21-member advisory group of experts from local governments, water utilities, artists, cultural organizations, and conservation groups:

  • Tyler Antrup, Urban Water Program Manager, Office of Resilience + Sustainability, City of New Orleans
  • Matthew Clarke, Director of Creative Placemaking, The Trust for Public Land
  • Liz Crosson, Deputy Mayor for Sustainability, Mayor’s Office, City of Los Angeles
  • Nicole Crutchfield, City Planner, Planning & Development, City of Fargo
  • Ramon Cruz, International Policy Program Manager, Institute for Transportation and Development Policy and Board of Directors, Sierra Club
  • Joanne Dahme, General Manager of Public Affairs, Philadelphia Water
  • Tom Decaigny, Director of Cultural Affairs, San Francisco Arts Commission
  • Jayeesha Dutta, Artist, StoryShift at Working Films
  • Juliet Ellis, Chief Strategy Officer and Assistant General Manager of External Affairs, San Francisco Public Utilities Commission
  • Jorie Emory, Director of Community Strategies, River Network
  • Stephanie Gidigbi, SPARCC Policy, Capacity, and Systems Change Director and Senior Advisor, Urban Solutions, National Resources Defense Council
  • Constance Haqq, Director of Administration and External Affairs, Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District
  • Milly Hawk Daniel, Vice President of Communications, PolicyLink
  • Shanai Matteson, Artist and Collaborative Director, Water Bar & Public Studio
  • Mary Miss, Founder and Artist, City as Living Laboratory
  • Eve Mosher, Artist, HighWaterLine, Liquid Cities, and Works on Water
  • Emmanuel Pratt, Executive Director, Sweet Water Foundation
  • Debra Shore, Commissioner, Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago
  • Andrew Simon, Acting Director of Content, Grist
  • Michael Singer, Artist and Principal Designer, Michael Singer Studio
  • Ashley Sparks, Artist

This partnership will build upon a new ArtPlace report released earlier this week, Farther, Faster, Together: How Arts and Culture Can Accelerate Environmental Progress, as well as signature publications by the US Water Alliance, including One Water Roadmap: The Sustainable Management of Life’s Most Essential Resource and An Equitable Water Future.

For more information about this project, please visit:

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