The Clarice Connects With Community through “Moving Maryland Forward” Grant

Photos by Stephen Thomas

The Clarice is partnering with the School of Public Health on a project that will train students to gather stories of celebrations and traditions at local barbershops which serve as health education venues, and transform them into art. The initiative was awarded funding by the “Moving Maryland Forward” grants from the university’s Office of Diversity and Inclusion.

Dr. Stephen Thomas, director of the University of Maryland Center for Health Equity, and Jane Hirshberg, community engagement manager at the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center, are collaborating on the project entitled “Hair, Health and Neighborhood Stories: Celebrations and Traditions.”

Through the existing Health Advocates In-Reach and Research (HAIR) program, which trains barbers and stylists in health promotion and transforms their shops into trusted venues for health education, the Center for Health Equity has already launched innovative efforts to reduce health disparities while engaging the community. The new project will expand on these efforts to collect and record community health concerns in a non-invasive way, using students who will transform the stories into a multimedia artistic exhibition. Community artist Vincent Thomas will work with UMD students to transform interviews into a script for a performance at the barbershop, which will then be recorded and displayed at The Clarice.