The Watermill Center Celebrates Diversity

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Kelly Dennis

The Public Programs & Residency Coordinator at The Watermill Center, Kelly Dennis, has been awarded the Alliance of Artists Communities second annual Diversity and Leadership Fellowship, funded by the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts. She is one of seven chosen across the United States, among a large pool of submissions. Other awardees were from New Orleans, Los Angeles, New York City, Columbus, Ohio, Paonia, Colorado, and Red Wing, Minnesota.

Dennis is rooted in her Long Island community as a tribe member of the Shinnecock Indian Nation of New York, and Hassanamisco Nipmuc Nation of Massachusetts. In 2016, Dennis was a part of The Watermill Center’s El Colegio del Cuerpo group, led by choreographer and dancer Álvaro Restrepo, who will also be returning to the WMC later this month. The joining of the two cultures in a ritual performance will include Colombians and Shinnecock tribe members.

“I am honored to be chosen and grateful that the Director of The Watermill Center, Elka Rifkin, recommended me for this program and to represent our organization,” Dennis said. The program aims to help administrators of color and those with disabilities at the start of their residency careers to be part of the larger Diversity + Leadership Initiative. Each fellow receives professional development opportunities such as cost-free attendance to the Alliance’s Annual Conference, a retreat, along with a mentor in the arts.

“The fellowship is a wonderful opportunity for me to better understand how I may support today’s artists, provide a safe space for marginalized groups, make international connections, as well as explore solutions to challenges that artist-centered organizations face. I also want to develop strategies for more accessible, inclusive, educational, and intergenerational programming that features the work of WMC resident artists,” she added.

Founded in 1991, the Alliance of Artists Communities is an “international service organization for artist residency programs and artist-centered organizations” and a registered non-profit. To date, the organization has more than 400 members across the U.S. Across 20 countries there are more than 1500 in the international residency program. Since 2004, it has awarded over $2 million in direct grant funding.

“There is so much I need to learn about the arts administration world as I endeavor to promote diversity, connect artists to resources, and advance community engagement all while ensuring nonprofit organizational sustainability,” added Dennis.

Join Dennis at The Watermill Center, at 39 Water Mill Towd Road, on Saturday, November 3, for Family Day with El Colegio del Cuerpo. Tickets are $10 to $15.

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