Maria Harrison's Story
Maria’s Fellowship took her to USA in 2012 to explore art as a catalyst for community regeneration.
Maria’s belief in the capacity of the arts to boost communities took her to Detroit, Chicago, Boston and Lowell (Massachusetts). Art motivates Maria and she believes it has a role to play in making things happen, to change people’s minds, to make them see their potential and as a force for good. Her research demonstrated how large-scale economic and social blight is being overcome with the help of the arts.
During her Fellowship, the scale of the deprivation, and conversely the dramatic impact that the arts had on the communities she visited, was inspiring and served to reinforce previously held ideas as well as educate on new theories and ways of working.
She met grassroots activists, local government, artists and philanthropists, spent time in places in the midst of severe social problems and as a contrast those that had ‘made it to the other side’.
After her travels, Maria, who was then the CEO of the Letchworth Arts Centre, worked on building a relationship with a theatre company in Boston which is closely linked to the Boston public school (equivalent to a state school in the UK), the Boston Arts Academy. Maria facilitated a relationship between this Boston school and a new local academy school in Letchworth which focuses on creative and cultural skills. This partnership led to the Boston theatre company to come to the UK in June 2015 for a residency to work with the UK students. The project was made possible by Maria’s Fellowship and fundraising.
Maria is currently working with theatre companies to develop pieces which will start in Letchworth and then tour.
She is always looking for inspiration and new ideas by attending art festivals, speaking to promoters and watching art programmes.
The results continue to evolve; the Fellowship only starts with your travels and the impact will last a lifetime.