Socially Engaged Art & Artists: "Meeting the Moment – Past, Present, & Into the Future"

Recorded On: 06/16/2022


About this Webinar

June 16 @ 3:00 P.M. ET

Moved by the cultural and social reckoning catalyzed by the events of 2020, scholar, educator, and writer Jan Cohen-Cruz and artist and cultural worker Rad Pereira embarked on a journey.  Forty years apart in age, with different racial, gender, and national backgrounds, yet aligned in their commitment to a vibrant U.S. theater that responds to its time and place, they co-wrote, Meeting the Moment: Socially Engaged Performance 1965-2020 (released in June, New Village Press).  Based on nearly 100 interviews and exchanges, they capture the contributions and experiences of a diverse range of socially engaged theater and performance makers who reflect and lift up the many voices that make up the U.S. today.

Meeting the Moment provides a platform for a conversation that centers socially engaged artists—the unique roles they play, challenges they face in such intersectional work, and what they need to do that work effectively and in keeping with their values.

This session explores themes that emerged through the authors’ interviews such as:   

  • their diverse influences and multiple approaches to education and training;
  • the role played by race, circumstances, class, gender/sexuality, and other identity grounders;
  • the rise in artists embedded in community development initiatives and collaborating with public agencies;
  • the supports that are needed by artists who are equally committed to art and social justice to sustain them in life and work; and
  • how 2020 has impacted socially engaged artists and may influence their directions moving forward. 

This webinar sets the stage for a fall event series, Animating Democracy / Reflecting Forward. The series considers the practice and progress of community-based and socially/civically engaged art and culture over recent decades, and its promise now and into the future.  It will bring together trailblazing artists and cultural leaders from Animating Democracy’s founding years along with this generation’s leading-edge practitioners from arts and other sectors to reflect back on and imagine forward the role of arts and culture, artists and culture bearers in animating democracy. 

This webinar is free as part of our support and service to the field. Please consider becoming a member or donating to Americans for the Arts to support ongoing access to resources like these for everyone. 

Jan Cohen-Cruz is a scholar, educator, and writer who has made vast contributions to building and sharing knowledge of community-based and socially engaged theater and arts. She wrote Local Acts, Engaging Performance, and Remapping Performance; edited Radical Street Performance; coedited with Mady Schutzman, Playing Boal and A Boal Companion; and co-authored with Rad Pereira, Meeting the Moment: Socially Engaged Performance, 1965-2020, by Those Who Lived It, published by New Village Press. From 2013-2019, she worked with A Blade of Grass, supporting socially engaged artists, serving as director of field research and co-founding its magazine. From 2007-2012, she directed Imagining America: Artists and Scholars in Public Life, a consortium of colleges and universities committed to civic engagement, and co-founded its journal, Public. Cohen-Cruz earned her Ph.D. in Performance Studies at New York University and was a professor in the Drama Department, initiating its minor in Applied Theatre. In 2012, she received the Association for Theatre in Higher Education’s Award for Leadership in Community-Based Theatre and Civic Engagement. Jan was an evaluator for the U.S. State Department/Bronx Museum cultural diplomacy initiative smARTpower and for New York City’s Public Artists in Residence. She and Pam Korza researched and wrote the Municipal-Artist Partnership guide, a joint effort of A Blade of Grass and Animating Democracy/Americans for the Arts. Jan teaches at Touchstone Theatre/ Moravian University and, with her family, operates the Smokehouse Food Truck in eastern Pennsylvania. 

Rad Pereira is a queer, mixed Black, Indigenous Brazilian Jewish (im)migrant cultural worker building consciousness between healing justice, system change, reindigenization, and queer futures currently based in Lenapehoking (Brooklyn). As a community artist, they created The (Im)Migrant Hustle and produced Bang Bang Gun Amok I + II at Abrons Art Center, Media Tools for Liberation with JackNY, and facilitated Decolonization Rave and Cosmic Commons with You Are Here. They are a 2017 New York City Public Artist in Residence with Department of Cultural Affairs and Children’s Services working with LGBQTIA foster youth. As an actor and director, Rad has contributed to stories at HBO, CBS, NBC, MTV, National Black Theatre, MITU350, The Public Theater, La Mama etc., Shakespeare Theatre in DC, Pittsburgh Public Theatre, New York Theatre Workshop, The Bushwick Starr, Target Margin, Poetic Theater, Ars Nova, New Ohio, Sesame Street, Theatre 167 and various online media platforms. Rad has spoken and consulted at the Queens Museum, Rio de Janeiro Museum, Instituto Republica, PSU Art + Social Practice, SITI Company Thought Center, United Nations, A Blade of Grass, Superblue, Broadway Advocacy Coalition, The 8th Floor, Working Woman of Color Conference, Dance/NYC Symposium, and Culture/Shift. 

photo description: A brown skinned, curly haired Rad and white skinned, salt and peppered haired Jan smile into the camera warmly. Behind them is a green pond and forest full of green trees and bushes.


Socially Engaged Art & Artists: "Meeting the Moment – Past, Present, & Into the Future"
Live event: 06/16/2022 at 3:00 PM (EDT) You must register to access.
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