Dorchester-based non-profit Brain Arts Organization is the recipient of one of 34 Better Beaches Program Grants from Save the Harbor/Save the Bay this year. In a typical summer, Better Beaches grants would support over 100 free events and programs from Nahant to Nantasket that annually engage over 1 million people on our region’s beaches.
However, this is definitely not a typical summer. Because the COVID-19 pandemic has forced community organizations to rethink their summer programs to prevent the social spread of the disease, BAO and Save the Harbor are collaborating to continue connecting people to the region’s public beaches during the pandemic through free virtual events and arts programming while amplifying the voices of BIPOC and Queer artists.
Save the Harbor/Save the Bay has led and managed the Better Beaches Program Partnership with the Department of Conservation and Recreation for more than a decade, distributing grants to community partners in Nahant, Lynn, Revere, Winthrop, East Boston, South Boston, Dorchester, Quincy, and Hull, which have been used to host 870 free events and programs for the nearly 2 million regional residents who live within a short ride or drive to the beach.
“We think that the best way to save the harbor is to share the harbor with everyone to enjoy,” said Save the Harbor Executive Director Chris Mancini. “But to this day, not everyone feels welcome on some of our region’s most spectacular, and clean, public beaches.”
“After the murder of George Floyd and in the face of ongoing violence and oppression faced by BIPOC communities across the country, Save the Harbor is emphasizing our commitment to marginalized groups and working with current and new partners to educate the public about some of our shared history that is not always talked about,” Mancini said.
The BAO grant and collaboration is one of those partnerships, and will feature a beach soundscape music competition and a nature-based wellness and healing series focused on highlighting and amplifying the voices of Black, Brown, Queer, and Indigenous artists and community members as part of the Better Beaches Program.
The Beats on the Beach music competition will be hosted by local Black artists and producers LDER and Rilla Force, and judged by Boston-born poet, rapper and educator, Oompa. Participants will create a beat from a series of sounds recorded by the producers on Boston’s beaches, and Oompa will select the best beat and create an original song using it. The competition begins on August 17 and will close on September 7. The winner will receive a cash prize of $200.
|Joye Williams of Joyefully Natural. Photo by Devin Chaganis.|
The Harbor Healing series will feature meditation, healing and wellness guides from the Sistahs of the Calabash, Joye Williams from Joyefully Natural and You Good Sis. The Brain Arts Organization and all of the artists taking part in Harbor Healing and Beats On The Beach are part of a crucial effort in helping welcome all community members to the beaches and encouraging everyone to take ownership of the public beaches near them.
“Amplifying the voices of Black, Brown, Queer, and Indigenous folks is a priority as these marginalized communities continue to fight for their lives,” said Save the Harbor’s Community Engagement Coordinator Maya Smith. “We hope that creating this engaging community arts project with Black and POC voices at the forefront will continue making our beaches more welcoming to all of our diverse community members."
“Part of our mission is to foster a culture where individuals can create their own power and opportunities, so reclaiming our city's beaches for Black wellness and creativity is a very exciting project for us,” says Emma Leavitt, the director of the Brain Arts Organization. “We are grateful for the opportunity to creatively activate this space with our community and we hope that this becomes a sustaining relationship that builds from year to year.”
To enter the music competition, visit the Beats on the Beach website at savetheharbor.org/beats. To learn more Save the Harbor/Save the Bay or the Brain Arts Organization, visit their websites at savetheharbor.org and brain-arts.org.
Save the Harbor/Save the Bay would like to thank the Baker-Polito Administration, the Massachusetts Legislature, the Metropolitan Beaches Commission, the Department of Conservation & Recreation, the Boston Centers for Youth and Families, Harpoon Brewery, JetBlue, the Richard Saltonstall Charitable Foundation, National Grid, P&G Gillette, and all the Better Beaches Program funding partners and event sponsors for their support of the Better Beaches Program.