Shanaè Joyce-Stringer is an experienced educator and entrepreneur. Her career has spanned diverse roles in education since 2006, including teaching in Florida, Oregon, and China and coordinating programs at the district level in Lane County. In 2011, she ventured into entrepreneurship with B.L.A.Q. Events, and in 2018 founded Shanaè Joyce-Stringer Enterprise, offering coaching, speaking, and retail services.

With undergraduate degrees in Political Science and Public Administration from the University of Central Florida and a Master’s degree in Conflict Analysis and Resolution from Nova Southeastern University, she has contributed to nonprofits and schools, mentoring colleagues and advocating for high quality education.  In addition to being an advocate for youth and women’s empowerment, she has actively participated in advisory groups like the United Way of Lane County Racial Justice Fund, JSMA Educational Committee, and the Eugene Juneteenth Planning Committee.

In an interview with Arts and Business Alliance of Eugene, Joyce-Stringer shared her perspective on the arts.

How integral are arts and culture to your personal life and experiences?

Arts and culture has played a significant role in shaping my personal life and experiences. They provide avenues for self-expression, creativity, and reflection. Whether it’s through music, literature, visual arts, or exploring different cultural traditions, engaging with arts and culture has enriched my life and broaden my perspective. I’ve been an avid reader, since the age of four reading books from a plethora of genres, ranging from historic fiction to romance to poetry, with a focus on self-help and personal development, in more recent times. As a teenager, I was afforded the opportunity to be an exchange student, traveling to Moscow Russia and Baku, Azerbaijan. It was that international trip that ignited my desire to learn about other cultures, up close and personally. As an avid international traveler, who has been to five out of the seven continents, I make sure that I incorporate visits to the art museums and cultural exhibitions everywhere I go. Going off the beaten path and outside the traditional tourist zones has allowed me to connect personally with natives of the places I have visited, many of which relationships are still maintained today. As a young child my mother would often take me to the theater exposing me to plays, opera, and ballet performances regularly. I continue to patron the local art scene in Eugene and other cities that host performances of great interest to me. As an educator it has always been important for my students to be exposed to the arts and other cultures besides their own. I would frequently incorporate literature, various art mediums, and people who have made great contributions locally and internationally frequently in my lessons. Students not only showed appreciation for being represented in the lessons but greater acceptance of others. In closing, there’s not a significant moment, milestone, or memory in my life that is not associated with the arts and culture.

If elected mayor, would you prioritize arts & culture, and in what ways?

Absolutely, if elected mayor, I would prioritize art and culture in various ways. I’d actively participate in local celebrations of diverse groups, offering financial and in-kind support from the city. Additionally, I’d volunteer at cultural venues, encouraging others to join. I’d ensure ample spaces in city properties for art exhibits, fostering creativity in our community. Moreover, I’d convene stakeholders from the art and cultural sectors to strategize on expanding outreach and boosting tourism, enhancing our city’s vibrant cultural scene. 

Additionally I’d support the expansion of educational programs offered by our local arts venues and organizations to promote arts and culture in schools, nurturing creativity from a young age. Furthermore, I’d ensure grants or funding opportunities to support local artists and cultural organizations remain intact, fostering growth and sustainability. Additionally, I’d advocate for policies that prioritize public art installations, beautifying our city and fostering a sense of community pride. These additional measures would further solidify our commitment to elevating art and culture in our city.

If elected, how would you propose ensuring that all residents, including those from underserved communities and marginalized groups, have equitable access to arts and cultural programming?

As future mayor and a champion or removing barriers to access I would definitely prioritize ensuring equitable access to arts and cultural programming for all residents, especially those from underserved communities and marginalized groups. Drawing from my experience as a program coordinator serving marginalized youth and families throughout Lane County, I would propose several methods to achieve this:

  1. Community Partnerships: Maintain and expand partnerships with local cultural institutions, to provide free or subsidized access to their facilities and programming for underserved communities. This could include organizing family fun days, private tours, and art creation activities, as well as facilitating attendance at various cultural shows and performances.
  2. Mobile Programming: Implement mobile arts and cultural programming initiatives that bring events, workshops, and performances directly to underserved neighborhoods and communities. By utilizing local parks as venues, we can overcome barriers to access and ensure that residents have opportunities to engage with diverse cultural experiences in their own neighborhoods.
  3. Financial Support: Allocate funding specifically designated for subsidizing tickets, transportation, and participation fees for arts and cultural events. 
  4. Community Engagement: Foster community engagement and input through town hall meetings, surveys, and focus groups to understand the specific needs and preferences of underserved communities regarding arts and culture. By involving residents in the decision-making process, we can tailor programming to better meet their interests and enhance accessibility.

These strategies, informed by my previous experience in Eugene, aim to democratize access to arts and culture, creating a more inclusive and vibrant community for all residents to enjoy and participate in.

If elected, how do you envision leveraging arts and culture to cultivate empathy and build bridges within Eugene, fostering a more inclusive community?

As mayor, I do envision art and culture serving as powerful tools to cultivate empathy and build bridges within our community. Drawing from my experience working with the Hult Center, where I helped kick off their community conversations series last fall, I would continue to collaborate with cultural institutions to facilitate dialogue around themes present in art performances. By engaging community members in discussions and creating a welcoming atmosphere for participation, we can encourage residents to connect with one another on a deeper level, fostering empathy and understanding.

Additionally, I would encourage cultural institutions to showcase diverse perspectives and voices in their programming, reflecting the rich tapestry of our community. This could include supporting initiatives that highlight underrepresented artists and stories, fostering empathy by exposing residents to different experiences and narratives. Additionally, making investments in arts education and outreach programs in our city’s recreational and after-school programs that promote cultural literacy and understanding from a young age. By providing opportunities for residents to learn about different cultures and artistic traditions, we can foster empathy and appreciation for diversity from an early age, laying the foundation for a more inclusive community.

Furthermore, as a member of the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art Education Committee, I’ve had the privilege of giving voice to programming that serves students and the wider community. This role has allowed me to witness the transformative power of programs like Art Heals, which has a profound impact on individuals’ well-being and empathy. By leveraging initiatives like Art Heals and incorporating them into our broader arts and culture strategy, we can further cultivate empathy and build bridges within Eugene, creating a community where everyone feels seen, heard, and valued.

If elected, what strategies will you implement to ensure the effective integration of arts education into both formal educational settings and community programs, with the aim of igniting creativity and nurturing a deeper understanding and appreciation for cultural diversity among young people?

As a member of a historically underrepresented community, I recognize the importance of early exposure to cultural diversity. My experience as an educator underscores this belief—I’ve consistently gone beyond the classroom, organizing field trips to local cultural, historical, and artistic venues to enrich my students’ learning experiences.

To achieve this integration I would advocate for greater incorporation of arts education into the formal curriculum of schools, ensuring that it aligns with diverse cultural perspectives. By integrating arts education across subject areas, we can provide students with holistic learning experiences that foster creativity and cultural understanding.

I would expand and enhance partnerships between the local school district, city government, and cultural institutions to enhance arts education opportunities. This collaboration would involve coordinating field trips, workshops, and artist residencies that expose students to a wide range of cultural expressions and traditions. I would prioritize bringing these opportunities to school sites, while still creating additional avenues to engage in these experiences outside of school as well.

As an educator I support providing ongoing professional development opportunities for educators to enhance their capacity to integrate arts education into their teaching practices. This could include workshops, seminars, and resources that support teachers in incorporating diverse cultural perspectives and artistic practices into their classrooms.

By fostering partnerships between the education sector, local government, and cultural institutions, we can create a comprehensive approach to arts education that nurtures creativity, fosters cultural understanding, and empowers young people to become engaged and empathetic members of our community.

Partnerships play an important role in arts & culture. How do you picture those partnerships playing out between the city, nonprofits, artists and other entities if you’re elected mayor?

As mayor, I envision partnerships between the city, non-profits, artists, and other entities as vital components of our arts and culture ecosystem. These partnerships would be characterized by collaboration, mutual support, and a shared vision for enhancing our community’s cultural vibrancy. Here’s how I envision these partnerships materializing:

Collaborative Programming: The city would collaborate with non-profit organizations, artists, and cultural institutions to co-create diverse and inclusive programming that reflects the needs and interests of our community. This could involve joint events, exhibitions, performances, and workshops that celebrate our cultural diversity and promote artistic expression.

Resource Sharing: Partnerships would involve the sharing of resources and expertise to maximize impact and efficiency. The city could provide funding, infrastructure, and/or logistical support to non-profits and artists, while non-profits and artists contribute their creativity, skills, and community connections to enrich our cultural landscape.

Community Engagement: Partnerships would prioritize community engagement and participation, ensuring that residents have a voice in shaping our arts and culture scene. This could involve collaborative decision-making processes, public forums, and outreach initiatives that solicit input from diverse stakeholders and foster a sense of ownership and belonging.

By fostering strong partnerships between the city, non-profits, artists, and other entities, we can leverage our collective strengths and resources to create a dynamic and inclusive arts and culture ecosystem that enriches the lives of all residents and contributes to the vibrancy and vitality of our community.