According to Betsy Ringel, Director of the Jacob and Hilda Blaustein Foundation, MICA's Plan for the 21st Century brought its master of arts in community arts (MACA) program to the Foundation's attention. "Typically, we don't do a lot of funding in higher education," Ringel said, "but MACA was an excellent match with our priorities, which include opening up cultural institutions to community involvement and participation. We are very interested in nurturing new leadership at the community level, a goal exemplified by the MACA program." The Foundation has made two consecutive grants of $150,000 that support fellowships for MACA students, like the recent fellows shown above, in the program's first six years.
The first program of its kind in the country, MACA provides a unique credential for visual artists who wish to pursue a career in art-based youth and community development. Ringel appreciates that the program allows participants to "marry artistic ability and administrative ability so that they can be both the creative force and the organizational and administrative force behind community arts programming." MACA integrates intensive classroom experiences and coursework with extensive field experience so that graduates gain the necessary insights, skills, and experiences to be effective community arts professionals. For Ringel, the best thing about meeting students in the program "was that each student was a wonderful ambassador, taking the arts into communities where people don't normally access more traditional cultural institutions. They demonstrated how to make art meaningful and accessible, how to make it fun, and how to weave it into a community service program or an educational program. They are all dynamic and idealistic, and best of all, a number of the students were talking about staying in Baltimore after graduation."
The Jacob and Hilda Blaustein Foundation promotes social justice and human rights through its five program areas: Jewish life, strengthening Israeli democracy, health and mental health, educational opportunity, and human rights. Support is provided to organizations in the United States and abroad. The Foundation's grants to the MACA program are part of its educational opportunity initiative, which seeks to nurture high-quality community arts programs that engage diverse audiences.