Free art-related events will highlight issue of health equity

  • A film about health equity in western Massachusetts will be part of a series of events in the region in April and May to highlight the issue, especially as it affects people of color. Photo courtesy UMass Amherst

Staff Writer
Published: 4/11/2022 9:58:13 AM
Modified: 4/11/2022 9:57:02 AM

The Western Massachusetts Health Equity Network, a project of the UMass Amherst School of Public Health and Health Sciences, will host a series of free art and informational events in the next several weeks to highlight issues of community health and equity, particularly as they affect people of color.

What’s called MOSAIC will feature a range of activities — storytelling, live performance, film screening and more — in five sites in the Valley and one in Berkshire County, beginning April 14 at 6 p.m. with a presentation at the UMass Amherst Student Union Ballroom.

Anchoring all the presentations will be a 30-minute film, in English with Spanish subtitles, by Holyoke artist Michelle Falcón Fontánez. The Hampshire College graduate, who also works in photography, installation art and theater, uses her art to try and effect social change.

For her film, Fontánez interviewed several people of color working in different ways to improve equity in heath care in the region, such as Wilbraham poet Lynnette Elizabeth Johnson and Dayna Campbell, an assistant professor in public health at American International College in Springfield. Campbell’s research focuses on diversity and inclusion and disparities in health status and outcomes.

The Western Massachusetts Health Equity Network, a group of academic institutions and heath professionals working to strengthen the region’s public health workforce, has held several annual meetings to develop new ideas and improve collaborative efforts. Risa Silverman, the group’s coordinator, said this year they opted for something different.

“Instead of one large gathering … we will bring these important discussions to towns throughout our region with thought provoking events,” Silverman said in a statement. Those events, she added, are designed to “amplify the voices of people working within and for our communities of color toward equity, justice and representation in all aspects of life, including health care.”

The events will include “cultural explorations specific to each venue,” according to advance notes, as well as varied live performances, refreshments, and panel discussions.

In addition to the April 14 UMass Amherst event, the MOSAIC presentations will be staged April 21 in Holyoke; April 27 in Springfield; May 5 in Great Barrington; May 11 in Florence; and May 18 in Turners Falls. Several of the presentations will be held in performing arts venues; for a full schedule with locations and registration sites, visit wmhenfilm.org.

Steve Pfarrer can be reached at spfarrer@gazettenet.com.


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