As part of our end of year campaign, Artist Trust Communications Manager Elizabeth Colzani shared her process of unlearning this year, and what excites her about the changes Artist Trust has made and will continue to make. Read more below, and support our work at artisttrust.org/donate/.
What is your role at Artist Trust and what do you enjoy about it?
I’ve been the Communications Manager at Artist Trust since July 2019. In this role, I’m able to work closely with each person on staff, which I enjoy, because we are truly a #dreamteam. I love being able to share with our community what we’re working on, especially when we can bring our community into that work, which we hope to do more of in the future. Our social media takeovers and artist stories are both favorite projects of mine.
How are you involved in the arts?
I’ve been a lover of the arts ever since I was little because my mom is a high school theatre teacher, and my dad is a ballet dancer and ballet teacher. I danced for 8 years, but theatre became my passion. The community you find through theater is unmatched! When I lived in Michigan, I was involved in a theater company, but kind of dropped off after moving to Seattle. I miss it, but so enjoy being a patron and supporter as much as I can.
What has 2020 taught you both personally and professionally?
This has been a year of unlearning in order to learn if that makes any kind of sense. Unlearning control and rigidness in order to learn flexibility. Unlearning stigma in order to learn how to ask for help. Starting to unlearn harmful ideals and so much more on my path to antiracism. 2020 has forced me to let go of a lot, but the process of letting go has made me better. There’s still so much more to learn.
How will you carry those lessons into 2021?
I want to continue unlearning in all aspects of my life and work hard to ensure I don’t revert to old ways or bad habits. I’ve heard a lot of people say, “2021 will be better”, and I have comforted myself with that thought many times. But I hope when we say “better”, we don’t mean “normal”. So much has been brought to light, and I hope we can continue to work together as a community and organization to ensure that better means better for everyone, not a select few.
What excites you about what you’ve learned/the changes Artist Trust has made or will make?
The chance to reinvent and rebuild an organization in partnership with the community it serves is a rare opportunity, and I’m grateful to be part of it. Washington State artists called on us to do better and we’re taking that call seriously. I’m grateful that our staff and board have leaned into this challenge instead of shying away.
I’m looking forward to taking everything apart by analyzing our practices from the ground up. From communications to grantmaking, to fundraising, we’ll see where we get it right, and where we get it wrong. This process will be so helpful in truly meeting the needs of artists.
What is your vision for a stronger Artist Trust?
Transparency, vulnerability, an innovative leadership model, and making sure artists lead the way in all that we do.