This week, Jared gives us a sneak peak at a WPA-inspired pilot program for artists. Plus, an interview with singer-songwriter Anjimile.

“Artists at Work,” a pilot program from THE OFFICE Performing Arts + Film

Artists at Work
Lia Russell-Self sits and reads poetry on the grounds of The Mount.
Eric Limon, courtesy of The Mount

The Berkshires is the testing ground for a new project from THE OFFICE Performing Arts + Film. “Artists at Work” is a pilot program that gives artists a job, complete with a living wage and health care, as they work with local arts institutions. Inspired by the Depression-era Works Progress Administration, the pilot program pairs six artists with six organizations in Western Massachusetts, including MASS MoCA, Jacob’s Pillow, and Edith Wharton’s historic home The Mount, where artist Lia Russell-Self is leading a series of workshops aimed at engaging young, queer people of color with the nature in the Berkshires. THE OFFICE hopes this program can be taken nationally if it succeeds, and provide artists around the country with work that will stimulate an American economy that has been ravaged by the coronavirus.

“Artists are so often thought of as kind of the garnish on the plate and the luxury item,” says Rachel Chanoff, director of THE OFFICE Performing Arts + Film. “Of course, artists are workers. And when artists are unemployed, you have unemployed people who are on their way to becoming poor people.”

“Anjimile,” whose debut album “Giver Taker” is out now

Anjimile - Giver Taker
The album cover of Anjimile's "Giver Taker."
Courtesy of Anjimile and Father/Daughter Records

Boston-based singer/songwriter Anjimile Chithambo, who professionally goes by Anjimile, has just released a debut album on Father/Daughter Records titled “Giver Taker.” The album touches on experiences of loss, love, and sobriety — fusing introspective guitar melodies with steady instrumentation inspired by everything from '80s pop to African music Anjimile discovered through his Malawi-born parents. The artist wrote much of this album while in rehab for drug and alcohol abuse, and those experiences inform the deeply personal lyrics and subject matter of the album.

“As I started getting more days and weeks and months of recovery, my head started getting clearer,” says Anjimile. “Songwriting was an incredibly therapeutic process for healing and just addressing all those feelings.”

What do you think about a WPA-style program for artists? Tell Jared about it on Facebook or Twitter!