Azim Mazagonwalla

What I love most about the work I've done over the years supporting the arts through work on arts program and policy boards is the people I've met. That goes for the Wyoming Arts Council, the Western States Arts Federation (WESTAF), the Denver Commission on Cultural Affairs, and, as of yesterday, the New England Foundation for the Arts (NEFA), which elected me to a three-year term at a meeting in Bristol, Rhode Island. WESTAF and NEFA are two of the five regional arts organizations (RAOs) in the U.S. My 10 years on the WESTAF board come to an end in October, and I am excited at the chance to transition to another regional, because each of the five has taken a very distinct approach to strategy and programs. I will have lots to learn at NEFA, and, I hope, lots to contribute.

New England's RAO benefits from the fact that these six states have a coherent regional identity going back centuries. Despite their differences, Vermont and Connecticut are a lot more similar (and close to each other!) than, say, Wyoming and Hawaii. NEFA has taken advantage of this geographical fact to help the New England states build close cultural and artistic ties through leadership in such initiatives as Creative Economy work and the New England Cultural Database. In addition, NEFA has become a key national resource in support of dance.

Yesterday morning I was hoping to interview one of the NEFA board members in Bristol, and right after I set up my tripod on the dock, Azim Mazagonwalla strolled over, as if on cue. He even had coffee from Dunkin Donuts! Azim is a member of the NEFA board and the Rhode Island State Council on the Arts. His day job is at the Education Partnership. He's an intriguing fellow whose high spirits at the dinner party Wednesday night in a seaside mansion had the same intensity as his probing contributions at the board meeting yesterday.

Here is the podcast, which lasts about six minutes:

Friday, July 14, 2006

Congratulations on your election. We will miss you at WESTAF.
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