Using Arts and Culture to foster organizational growth

The Artist-in-Residence is an annual position for a socially engaged artist at the Alliance. While each residency will be unique according to the interest and skills of the artist, over time this program will help the Alliance develop new knowledge, ideas, and approaches to problem-solving and engagement. The residency provides a working artist with an opportunity to contribute to some of the most innovative water solutions happening in America by working in close partnership with the Alliance’s staff and national network.

Benny Starr
Artist-in-Residence 2020-2021

Born in the Lowcountry of South Carolina, Benny Starr is constantly going against the grain while paying homage to the legends that came before him and crafting bodies of work that require your time and full attention. His most recent body of work, A Water Album, recorded live with his fellow bandmates The Four20s, at Charleston Music Hall, was released on Juneteenth 2019. Through a partnership with Native Son and his work with The Acres of Ancestry, Benny released Restoration: A Concert Film in November 2020. The film explores southern Black agrarian stories of self-determination, land ownership, and folk wit; amplifies ongoing struggles for restorative land justice in this country including the Black Farmers’ Appeal: Cancel Pigford Debt Campaign. In addition to serving as the US Water Alliance’s One Water Artist-in-Residence, Benny is collaborating with PolicyLink to develop a curriculum on partnerships for change through radical art and cultural engagement, as well as advising on arts strategies for the Water, Equity, and Climate Resilience Caucus.

Artist Reflections

Integrating arts and cultural strategies is new for the Alliance and the water sector. To help advance sector learning, Benny documented some of his conversations, dialogues, and learnings in real-time through monthly reflections, which can be found below. This is an opportunity for him to share his insights and emerging questions with the Alliance staff and the broader water sector. We welcome feedback and dialogue sparked by these reflections.