Join us for an MD AIR special exclusive as we bring together some of the region’s most creative minds to discuss the role of diversity, inclusion and equity in the arts.

The MD AIR program was founded on the value to support sustainable arts and cultural development in Downtown Columbia, the Mid-Atlantic region and the world at large.

Given the current political and social climate, amidst the global pandemic, we wanted to bring together a talented and acclaimed panel to discuss the importance of continuing to strive for diversity, equity and inclusion in the arts.

Our Panelists Include:

  • Dr. Aaron Bryant, Museum Curator: Photography, Visual Culture, Social Justice and Contemporary History at Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture
  • Colette Veasey-Cullors, Associate Dean for Design and Media at Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA)
  • Willie Flowers, President for the Maryland State Conference NAACP
  • Darin Atwater, Founding Artistic Director, Soulful Symphony & Artistic Director of the Downtown Columbia Arts and Culture Commission (DCACC)
  • Chelsea Lemon-Fetzer, Editor of the Little Patuxent Review

More About The Panelists:


Aaron Bryant is a museum curator at the National Museum of African American History and Culture. Prior to the Smithsonian, he was curator of collections and exhibitions at Morgan State University’s James E. Lewis Museum of Art in Baltimore.

Bryant has lectured at Harvard, Johns Hopkins, Duke, the Metropolitan Museum, the University of Cambridge, Oxford, and the British Museum. Additionally, he traveled with the U.S. State Department to present lectures at universities and cultural institutions throughout Barcelona, Seville, and Madrid.

He has received honors from the Lyndon Johnson Presidential Library, the New York Public Library, the Maryland Historical Society, the University of Maryland, the Smithsonian Institution, the American Association of Museums, and the Organization of American Historians and Immigration and Ethnic History Society. Bryant also received special recognition from Congress and the U.S. Justice Department, and in 2014, he was elected a fellow with the Royal Anthropological Institute in the UK.

A commissioner with Baltimore City’s Commission on Historical and Architectural Preservation and Chair of the City’s Public Arts Commission, Bryant earned his Ph.D. from the University of Maryland, an MFA from Yale, and an AB from Duke.


Colette Veasey-Cullors’ photographic work throughout her career has continually investigated themes pertaining to socio-economics, race, class, education and identity. She seeks to question our personal connections to these subjects and how one might justify and rationalize their existence to themselves and others. She is interested in decoding these issues by employing the use of metaphor and investigating the point of intersection between these dichotomies.

Colette is a professor of undergraduate photography at Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA). Before joining MICA’s faculty in 2008, she was a tenured associate professor in the undergraduate program in photography at Howard University in Washington DC. Colette received her MFA in Photography from Maryland Institute College of Art in 1996 and her BFA in Photography from the University of Houston in 1992.


An artistic force in the broadest and most creative sense of the word; Darin Atwater’s career has encompassed the roles of composer, conductor, pianist, record producer, artist, arranger, film composer, vocalist, entrepreneur, educator and arts advocate. As a master inventor of musical hybrids, he has blended American pop, soul, hiphop, jazz, classical, gospel music into many dazzling fusions, traversing virtually every medium, including records, live performance, radio and television – literally reinventing the symphony orchestra in America.

In 2000, Darin founded Soulful Symphony, an 85-member orchestra with vocals reimagined. After 10 wildly successful seasons of sell out performances in a joint venture with the Baltimore Symphony, Soulful Symphony entered into a historic partnershipwith Broadway Across America. In 2019, Soulful Symphony took residency at Merriweather Post Pavilion, in Columbia MD. Darin is currently the artistic director for the Downtown Columbia Arts and Culture Commission, a non-profit organization that oversees Merriweather Post Pavilion, and works to expand the artistic and cultural activities around the famed amphitheater, as well as, continuing to lead Soulful Symphony.


Chelsea Lemon Fetzer is a poet and fiction writer who holds an MFA in creative writing from Syracuse University. In addition to serving The Create Collective, Inc. she leads creative writing workshops across New York City in collaboration with PEN American Center’s Reading and Writing Program, The New York Writer’s Coalition, and independently. She is also the editor of the Little Patuxent Review, a literary journal publishing poetry, short fiction, creative nonfiction and artwork, founded in Columbia, MD.

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