BACC announces program to protect and elevate artwork from social justice movements

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BACC announces program to protect and elevate artwork from social justice movements
Assistant conservator of paintings Bianca Garcia.

SAN DIEGO, CA.- The Balboa Art Conservation Center (BACC), the western region's only nonprofit art conservation center, is pleased to announce a new program: Preserve Community Art! Created as part of the organization’s ongoing commitment to protect important cultural heritage, this initiative will provide pro bono art conservation services for significant works that emerge from social justice movements that occur in the San Diego area.

There are three primary goals for the program. First, to serve as a resource for the art that is created as a direct result of activism, next to document and preserve a type of human expression that normally emerges and disappears quickly (so that future generations may learn from it); and finally, to expand the definition of what holds artistic importance.

“Through this program we hope to change the story about what makes an important piece of artwork,” Karen Coutts, Board President of BACC says. “When a regional conservation center like ours treats community-created protest objects with the same care and respect provided to historic, priceless works of art, we are saying that these moments in history are no doubt socially important, but they are also artistically important.”

What might preserving the artistic expression of social justice movements look like? There are a number of directions this could take. It could be helping an organization document or assess the condition of artwork created during a socially significant movement. It might be making recommendations about the safe handling, display, and storage of artwork. It could also include completing conservation treatments on damaged artwork or activist-related documents. Or it might be facilitating discussions with artists or organizations about conservation and preservation with regard to ethics, strategies, and artists’ rights. With a staff of cultural preservation experts, BACC is uniquely equipped to assist artists and community groups in all of these areas.

The first Preserve Community Art! project has already launched. BACC has partnered with community arts champion A Reason to Survive (ARTS) in National City to preserve free documentation and preservation services for artwork, including signs and murals, from the protests that occurred this summer in San Diego. ARTS will be working to identify local artists and source work from the community, while BACC’s expertise in cultural preservation will help capture and contextualize the artwork within the movement. The two organizations believe that art created as part of these activist movements is an integral part of our collective community cultural heritage and local history. By professionally preserving these protest works we can ensure that they can be accessed by our community for future conversations.

Projects will be considered for Preserve Community Art! on a case-by-case basis. Organizations and individuals interested in recommending work for this program are encouraged to learn more about the program by visiting the BACC website.

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