Editor’s Remarks: Changing of the Watch By Rodger French
This issue of UP From the ROOTS has as its focus the inevitability of generational change and its effect on organizational evolution. In the case of Alternate ROOTS, we are looking at the first generation of transition and, while we do have some examples to learn from, we are effectively creating our own template for handling this exciting and totally unavoidable situation. I have had the good fortune to be involved at or near the creation of three important organizations, each dedicated in its own fashion to the concept of social change: Alternate ROOTS (joined in 1977), Radio Free Georgia - WRFG (1974) and Veterans for Peace - VFP (1986). The predominant age demographic of each group at the outset was decidedly that of the so-called “baby boomer” generation. Most of us were in our late 20s to early 30s and came of age during the Civil Rights and Anti-War Movements of the late 60s and early 70s. The racial demographics varied, ranging from almost totally White (VFP) to majority White (ROOTS) to majority, but less so, White (WRFG).
While each of these groups took cues from existing organizations, each went on to develop its own individual identity. As time has passed and cultural contexts changed, each organization has developed strategies, whether consciously or not, for supporting the inclusion of younger people who share the same values and are looking for ways to contribute. Alternate ROOTS and its member companies have been very specific and systematic about recruiting young people into the fold. The change at WRFG appears, from my admittedly limited perspective, to have been more organic in nature, more an incremental response to cultural changes. And VFP, which was founded primarily by veterans of the Vietnam era and is still a vital entity, serves as a support group for Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW), an emerging organization. Planned change, organic evolution, support for like-minded groups - Alternate ROOTS has successfully employed each of these methods as we look to the future with the idea that what we have created is worth carrying on. Whatever works, whatever it takes, we will serve as a foundation for future generations just as we have stood on the shoulders of those before us. Alternate ROOTS would like to thank the following organizations for their generous support.
Nathan E. Cummings Foundation Ford Foundation The Shubert Foundation
Up from the ROOTS Journal Fall 2005
CAROLYN MORRIS Executive Director
CARLTON TURNER Regional Development Director OFFICERS
STEPHEN CLAPP, Chair firstname.lastname@example.org
KATHY RANDELS, Vice-Chair email@example.com
JESSICA ROBINSON, Secretary firstname.lastname@example.org ADRIENNE CLANCY, Treasurer email@example.com
Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina OMARI FOX firstname.lastname@example.org Florida DENISE DELGADO email@example.com
Kentucky, North Carolina, Tennessee MARQUEZ RHYNE firstname.lastname@example.org NAYO WATKINS email@example.com
Louisiana, Mississippi MAURICE TURNER firstname.lastname@example.org NICK SLIE mondobizarropresents.org
Maryland, District of Columbia, Virginia, West Virginia CAROL BURCH-BROWN email@example.com Satellite S.T. SHIMI firstname.lastname@example.org
TRINA FISCHER email@example.com
THERON SCHMIDT firstname.lastname@example.org Journal Staff RODGER FRENCH Editor
CARLTON TURNER Graphic Design WALTON PRESS Printer Photo Credits
ALTERNATE ROOTS 1083 Austin Ave NE Atlanta, GA 30307 404-577-1079 404-577-7991 fax www.alternateroots.org email@example.com
From the Desk of the Executive Director
From the Desk of the Executive Director...................................3 Studio Report: Gathering Around the Digital Campfire..............5 Jeff Mather & Eleanor Brownfield
Studio Report: Across the Oceans.............................................6 Lela Lombardo
Beyond Comforting the Afflicted................................................7 Caryn James
Studio Report: Dream of a Red Fringe Dress............................8 Lela Lombardo
Studio Report: Strategic Planning for Artists..............................9 Brooks Emmanuel Studio Report: Professional Development for Artists...............10 Lela Lombardo
Studio Report: Professional Development for Artists Working at the Intersection of Arts & Activism..........................12 Brooks Emmanuel
Table of Contents
Flag on the Play.......................................................................13 Sheila Kerrigan Radio Marigny................................................................ .........13 Rueters News Service An Open Letter to Alternate ROOTS........................................14 Jose Torres Tama Interview with Wynton Marsalis...............................................15
Burning Man Defies Katrina.....................................................15 Mark Morford Hurricane Katrina Resources for Artists...................................16 The Hurricane Monologues.....................................................19 Thomas B. Harrison
Not of the Moment...................................................................20 Alice Lovelace
ROOTS’ Response to Katrina..................................................23
Where the Rubber Meets the Road: When the Rhetoric of Change Meets the Reality of What Change Requires
ver the past thirty to forty years, organizations and institutions across the United States have created new language to describe who they are and/or who they are striving to become. No doubt moved by the passing of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and calls for civil and social equity by the various movements of the 1960s and ‘70s, “progressive,” “liberal” and “radical” groups, in particular, began to proclaim their work and the makeup of their organizations in terms of diversity, pluralism, multiculturalism, inclusively and broad-based. Language changed; policies changed; visual images changed; and in some cases, priorities changed.
We like to think that change occurs one person at a time and so we imagine that as we bring change to one organization, one institution or one neighborhood at a time, we are changing the world. There’s some truth to that. Today, there is a national buzz about a woman running for President of these United States and in fact, a woman is actually playing President on television. In some places, gay partners have legally married or at least, are able to receive benefits formerly reserved for husband/wife partnerships. In most fields, we can point to CEOs and successful professionals of every race and ethnicity, both genders and different physical abilities. Then, it all comes together everyday right before our eyes in television shows and commercials that portray, or at least give the illusion of, a wonderfully diverse society, a happy flower garden of different colors and types and origins.
Indeed, we can and should celebrate the changes that have evolved in our world. Yet, as many also observe, the more things change, the more they remain the same. Globally and locally, there is evidence that power and ownership is yet held in the hands of the “great white fathers.” Perhaps more alarming is evidence that tells us that resistance to change is not exclusive to wealthy and influential white male leader-types. Power struggles exist up, down and across the social strata wherever people have to move over, move back, let go or share power in order for change to occur.
By Nayo Watkins
Organizations committed to social justice have sought to not only advocate for change through their programs and literature but also to exemplify these values through the policies and structures within their organizations. Sometimes spurred on by funding guidelines or legal compliance, but also often by the goodwill of the heart and the desire to do the right thing, formerly white or male or otherwise exclusive organizations set out to give language to how their organizations would embrace notions of diversity. One now has to wonder what they were thinking or how they imaged these changes would occur. Did they actually understand how change changes things, that it actually means moving over, moving back, letting go and sharing power? In retrospect, it seems more likely they were saying: Welcome into the lovely Euro-centric garden we have created; come and place yourselves in the rows and patterns and rules of behavior we have established; and whatever you do, do it our way. When that doesn’t happen, when the people of difference bring their own ideas, ways of doing things and notions of change, something called “backlash” often rears its ugly head. Change simply is not comfortable. Moving over, moving back and sharing power is frightening. Letting go of long-held values or patterns can feel like defeat. Yet, persons experiencing these pains of change are often fearful of how to express their discomfort. After all, they risk being called racist, sexist, homophobic or otherwise chauvinistic. Sometimes they leave the organization. But more often than not, they refuse to relinquish their “flower garden.” They stay and find devious and indirect ways to poke at the situation, to find fault, to be disruptive.
On the other side, the persons of difference who choose to work in these situations experience their own set of discomforts. As if it is not enough of an emotional jarring to enter a previously suspicious and often adversarial arena, they are usually asked to carry the burden of change on their shoulders by laying out explanations to the all-knowing proprietors of the garden for why this or that is unjust or devising
strategies for how this or that might be different. It often also falls to them to become the gel for the organization – justifying its mission and purpose and rallying the group around why the inclusive effort within is so critical to the success of the larger effort toward social justice and social change in the world to which they are all committed. Authentic efforts toward diversity and inclusively in an organization require diversifying leadership, decisionmakers and decision-making processes, and providing equal access to opportunities and services. As these steps toward change are put into place, they, of necessity, confront “the way things used to be” and bring forth the discomfort of change. At those points, all the beautifully scripted language of the organization cannot shield its members from what they feel nor predict how they, on either side, will act and react.This is truly where the rubber (rhetoric) meets the road (reality).
The degree to which an organization is able to deal with its internal discomfort may determine its emergence as one of greater and growing strength or of increasing weakness. The degree to which its members are able to acknowledge and honor each other’s discomfort and use that as a cathartic juncture from which to move forward in the work toward the organization’s mission will, undoubtedly, determine the future health of the organization.
Most of us can recall an organization that met its demise because it could not weather change, particularly change dealing with power as it relates to race, class, gender and other “differences.” We might also know organizations that pretend to weather it – pretend to be the happy flower garden – but rather simply linger, sometimes for years, in a splintered and fractured state. In those cases, factions of the organization waste valuable time and energy sparring over petty points, thereby weakening the overall functioning and effectiveness of the organization. Change does occur one person at a time. But we are also communal beings, wanting and needing to realize our life’s work with and through our families, communities, organizations and collective actions. In turn, we each are responsible for keeping these interdependent bodies strong. We keep our organizations strong not simply for the sake of the organization, but for what the organization stands for and what we together can accomplish through its efforts toward social change. As we struggle with our own discomforts of change in our dark and lonely moments, we can, at least, look to the greater good for inspiration to put our rubber to the road. [Nayo Watkins is a Durham, NC-based poet, playwright, essayist, workshop facilitator, and organizational development consultant with a 30+ year track record of creating intersections between art, education, culture, activism, and empowerment. She is a member of Alternate ROOTS’ Resources for Social Change and has served as lead trainer for a number of its projects.]
Making the Transition:
Jump-Start Performance Company
bout a year ago, Jump-Start Performance Company in San Antonio, Texas went through a staff transition that effectively changed the organization’s structure, allowing both younger leadership and long-term staff artists to shift their roles in the company. Here are two accounts of Jump-Start’s leadership development efforts from Steve Bailey “the elder” and S.T. Shimi “the younger.” [Steve Bailey is the Education Director and a founder of Jump-Start Performance Company. Over the past 25 years, he has created and/or directed over fifty original productions that have been presented in Texas, New York City and South America.]
Throughout its 20-year history, Jump-Start Performance Co. has kept changing. The company has shifted racially, demographically, artistically and politically. Oh, believe me, it wasn’t always easy and it wasn’t always to the liking of all its members but we have always seemed to find a way to adapt and shift with the times. For me, there is an inherent value in interacting with youthful theater practitioners. Working with the next generation of theater artists keeps me “on my toes” and being challenged by another’s enquiry ensures that I don’t become complacent. Jump-Start’s current staff is about evenly divided between folks in their 20s, 30s, 40s and 50s with one senior member reaching 60 this year. This was achieved partially through deliberate steps and careful planning, but also by embracing a culture of change and being open to input from younger company members. Here are a couple of examples of organizational shifts that helped allow youthful leadership to develop and rise within the company. Jump-Start Performance Co. used to have an apprenticeship program, funded by the state arts council, focusing on long-term interaction with promising young theater artists. We were able to determine the focus of the program for ourselves and chose to concentrate on young people of color aged 16-23. These apprentices had not completed college and were not going to school full-time, for whatever reasons, but were interested in a career in the arts.
The grants were small, but the impact was enormous. Apprentices worked at least 10 paid hours per week alongside staff members and each reported to a specific staff liaison. Three of our apprentices, after working with us for a period of several years, transitioned into staff positions at Jump-Start. Others went on to other careers in the arts. (Unfortunately, the state apprentice program was discontinued in 2003 due to budget cuts. Jump-Start is attempting to replicate the program internally with general organizational funds next year.) Recently, Jump-Start’s staff structure changed to reflect the organization’s commitment to both succession and adaptation to the shifting needs of its personnel. I stepped aside as Executive Director and became Education Director, an area where I have the most passion and vision. This transition occurred over the past three years and reflects both the desire for the “older” staff to give up some power and for the “younger” staff to step up in their leadership roles. (Actually, we recently banned the term “transition” from our lexicon. We are always in constant state of transition – that is part of our organizational culture. That is part of life. Please, I have had five different job titles in my twenty years here.)
After taking a hard look at how Jump-Start functions, we developed a structure that enables some staff to move to lesser roles, some to move laterally to different roles and others to advance to more leadership roles. This examination took several years and involved the staff, the artistic company, the board and some key community partners. It was difficult, it was intense and it was joyful; but most of all it was inventive. It was decided that the organization wouldn’t continue its same old organizational model. The executive
director staff model wasn’t really viable for us, so we looked to an older theater model of leadership – that of artistic director and managing director - a model of shared management that would work best for us.
Currently, Jump-Start is structured into four divisions: facility/technical, administration, artistic and education. Each area has its own singular director except artistic which has three – company programs, guest artist programs and special projects. The six directors form a management team that oversees the operations of the company: no executive director, no “boss.” Other staff members report to one of the directors and the directors report to each other in a
[S.T. Shimi is a Jump-Start company member and Artistic Director for Company Programming. Her solo show “Southern Discomfort” was published in “Jump-Start PlayWorks.” She is one of three Satellite Representatives for Alternate ROOTS.]
My story with Jump-Start Performance Co. has been a decade-long adventure. For someone who had never planned to stay longer in Texas than a year, that is a strange and amazing thing to consider. It would not have been possible if Jump-Start were not the kind of organization that embraces change fearlessly and thoughtfully at the same time. I arrived on blind faith by train (with two suitcases and a battered cardboard box) to intern at this theatre company that I had read about in an arts-internship
“director’s circle” as well as to the company and board.
Is this a perfect model? Hell no. We are wrestling with many issues: staff accountability, personnel management and budgetary oversight, just to name a few. But we are determined to find a model that fits the needs of the organization and the desires of the people who make up the organization. We’ll see if this model continues to work for us. If it doesn’t, then I guess we’ll need to change again. It wouldn’t be the first time… or the last.
handbook. Jump-Start had just moved into its new digs at the Blue Star Arts Complex. Things were a little slow… yes, Tim Miller came and went, Sterling wrote a play... but in between were band bookings and a wedding party rental, complete with broken glasses and mashed cake bits everywhere. You can see why I didn’t think I would be here long. But as time went on, I was mentored in as many areas of the theatre as I was interested in: tech, administration, arts- education and performance creation. No one ever said I was too young (or annoying) to learn these things or felt that it was beneath them to answer my questions. Jump-Start has always been the kind of place where one can not only ask: “ Why not?” but call a rehearsal to ponder that question.
Steve Bailey in particular was always conscious of not only honoring my experiences and opinions but of opening doors for me. He encouraged me to learn the Critical Response Process and become responsible for running our Works-In-Progress/Wednesdays-InPerformance collaboration with San Antonio Dance Umbrella, to become an arts-educator in my own right and to come to Alternate ROOTS so that I could make connections beyond San Antonio and eventually become one of the “faces of Jump-Start.”
As years went by, I started to feel like I was stuck in a bit of a limbo, wondering where my place was in the organization as I accumulated experience but remained a title-less staff member. What would my business card say if I even had one? I noticed that despite his best efforts to diversify accountability, people (on staff, on the board and in the larger community) always pushed Steve to put his stamp of approval on decisions and projects. Despite the easy security that provided for the rest of us, the pressures were beginning to take their toll. A few years ago, Sterling’s health, Steve’s desire to make a lateral shift in his administrative interests and
the natural growth of the organization all led to a shift in our leadership structure, as Steve has elucidated above. Rather than a pyramid, it is now a universe of rotating and intersecting satellites. I am now in the exhilarating and terrifying position of being one of three artistic directors of a theatre company that I love deeply and cannot imagine myself without. As in any universe, we experience the occasional wormhole (“ I thought you were doing that report!”) and interplanetary collision (“ Don’t tell me how to do my job!”) along with the birth of new stars (new projects like our Electric Performance Lab and our everburgeoning arts-education programs). We struggle with letting go and we struggle with co-coordinating our separate projects; but we do so with a firm commitment to keeping this amazing organization at the top of its game.
Jump-Start is an organization that honors individual growth and is not afraid of change. We are a little like Hotel California: people join us and seldom leave. Rather than molder in old patterns though, we are always at work transforming ourselves. Stay tuned.
Finding Myself in a Place
When I began AMI, I would say I was very much like everyone with whom I went to school. I knew very little about local and family history and couldn’t wait to leave the mountains. I was very much ashamed of my accent. We had all bought the stereotypes and were very paranoid of them. My generation felt the embarrassment of “Muddy Gut” and the fact that my great grandmother looked like “Granny” from the Beverly Hillbillies made me all the more desperate to shed this place from my life and move away to become more interesting and somehow “smarter.”
I Once Couldn't Imagine By Derek Mullins
Appalshop, located in Whitesburg, KY (www.appalshop.org), recently received a grant from the Mary Reynolds Babcock Foundation for a Systematic Transition Project (for you racing fans, that’s STP). STP is about the transition from Appalshop’s founding mothers and fathers to a new generation of cultural workers/activists. (I’m 26 years old, incidentally.) STP’s purpose is to insure that young workers like me are given opportunities to develop skills to lead Appalshop into the future.
Although I’ve only been at Appalshop a little over a year, I can easily imagine the 36 years of hard work that has brought the organization to this point: 185 films and videos, 95 music and spoken word recordings, 53 original Appalachian plays and thousands of residencies and workshops across the United States helping communities discover their own cultural voices.
Being from the same mountains that reared Appalshop, I personally understand the issues that make Appalshop necessary. I see the work I am involved in not only as community service for my home but also in personal terms. To realize what Appalshop has done for this place is to also realize what Appalshop has done for me. Clearly, without Appalshop there would be a huge void.
My relationship with Appalshop began as a teenager in the Appalachian Media Institute (AMI). I was encouraged by my high school art teacher and saw a chance to make some money over the summer without having to work fast food, which, aside from WalMart, was my only option. Fortunately, I was accepted and lived in Whitesburg, KY, spending my weekends at home, for two months that summer.
When we are young I think we all lack a certain pride in who we are and where we are from, but I would hope no child felt it to the degree that my friends and I did. Looking back, I feel a bit embarrassed about the way I looked at things then, but I also realize that childhood ignorance was not the only reason I felt that way: we had been set up by the mainstream culture to feel ashamed. That summer at Appalshop, I learned I was being robbed of my pride and I vowed to make sure it never happened again - to others or myself. Over the next few years while traveling and at home, I had countless conversations - and some heated arguments - about this part of the world. In the heat of some of those arguments, I tended to lay my southern drawl on as thick as I could. In every case, I used Appalshop’s body of work as proof that this place was rich in people and culture, regardless of how poor and ignorant we were perceived to be. My pride was often tested, but never failed.
I popped in and out of Appalshop over those years, volunteering for the radio station for a while and generally looking for positive reinforcement. At another crucial point in my life, Appalshop was there as a space - just a place to go and be. For a hand-full of friends and me, that space was used to plot, scheme and dream beyond the coalmines that surrounded us. We had a game where one of us would ask the other: “Where do we go from here?” And the answer was always, “Just about anywhere.” So, that’s what we did.
Lutheridge Conference Center Arden, North Carolina
ars 30 Ye
August 8-13, 2006
30th Annual Meeting
e ROOT t na
of the Intersection
Performances Studios Networking Workshops Discussions
Having limited options at home, I traveled some outside the mountains, playing music and being adventurous. Then I began to appreciate the small things that made me want to return home. As luck would have it, there was an opening in Appalshop’s Marketing and Sales division. I began as a contract worker. I envisioned myself as a set of legs, a runner and nothing more, so it was quite surprising to see how quickly I would become involved organizationally. While help and advice was always there if I needed it, I was encouraged to be self-directed, and to get involved in other aspects of Appalshop. I was not only expected to have an opinion, but I was a voting member in the Film Union, part of the decision-making process. It wasn’t too long before I was representing Appalshop in public, serving as a member of task forces and ad hoc committees, attending workshops, and learning a lot about the non-profit world in general. The point of the Systematic Transition Project is to ensure that this will continue. STP’s first task has been to identify the areas and skills that we 14 young Appalshop employees need to
learn more about. Through hosted workshops, reflection about where the organization is and a serious look at where we want to be in the years to come, we hope to prepare ourselves for the day when the baton is passed on to us, and it is our time to run. In many ways, we are already running that race.
I could give many reasons why this transition is so important, both for the community that Appalshop serves and myself. To imagine Appalshop not having been there for me makes me wonder if I would be anything like the same person today. But more importantly, I cannot imagine the Appalachian community without Appalshop. Once asked if I thought Appalshop would be here in 10 years, I answered that we could not afford for it not to be. [Derek Mullins was born and reared in Perry County, KY, and is presently co-Director of Appalshop’s Marketing and Sales division. Derek began as an AMI intern at Appalshop in 1996 and returned toAppalshop in 2004.]
RE/Generating A National Movement: Artists, Visionaries - What Might We Unleash
By Andrea Assaf
[Intersection IV: Re/Generations will take place April 7-9, 2006 at New WORLD Theater, on the campus of the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. For more information, visit www.newworldtheater.org.]
n her keynote speech at the National Exchange on Art and Civic Dialogue, convened by Animating Democracy in October 2003, Grace Lee Boggs posited that substantive social and political change can only come about if the change agents of a society – namely artists, organizers and educators – work together as equal partners. Late that night, in the hotel lobby, Grace (who is now 90 years old) turned to John O’Neal and said something like, you know, I think the Civil Rights generation is all washed up! Meaning, we need radical new methods of creating sustainable, progressive change in politically regressive times. That challenge sparked a passionate discussion that continued throughout the convening, each time drawing more listeners and participants, demonstrating the sense of urgency we all felt around questions of art and protest, impact and intervention, and how to “make a difference” in the age of media conglomeration and global capitalism. On the last day, a self-formed organizing committee issued a call for an independent, grassroots gathering: The National Convergence of Artists, Educators and Organizers, which was held in New Orleans in January 2004.1 While the National Convergence encountered the challenges of intentional diversity, it also generated tremendous energy, and a sense of rejuvenation and hope among participants. Moira Brennan of Creative Capital wrote: “DESPITE OUR DIFFERENCES, we were beginning to feel the contours of a real, organic, urgent consensus. The fact is that activists, educators and artists have been laying the groundwork for this moment for decades. It’s here now. The moment is here now.” Artist and organizer Andres Cruz similarly described his experience: “I left with the impression and the belief that a challenge came out to all of us. I define that challenge as the capacity, and the obligation, we all have to transform ourselves toward a revolutionary promise. I describe the term revolutionary as the continuous search and commitment to impact and radically seek extraordinary change.”2 Two years later, the challenges facing artists, organ-
izers and educators working for justice are increasingly intense. As the Iraq war rages on, the political climate stifles action and dissent, putting progressive artists and cultural workers under attack (such as Critical Art Ensemble’s Steve Kurtz, who, because of “suspicious materials” used in his performance, has been charged with terrorism under the Patriot Act).3 The aftermath of Hurricane Katrina has revealed with painful explicitness the scope of systemic racism in this country, and endangered one of our most treasured centers of cultural practice and production. Continuing fallout from the “culture wars” weakens and divides progressive forces (e.g., by driving a wedge between LGBTQ communities and communities of color over the issue of gay marriage). Field indicators such as the recent cuts in multicultural programs at the Mark Taper Forum and the distressing number of African-American theaters that have closed in recent years show disturbing signs that we are losing ground in the struggle for diverse representation. These challenges are exacerbated by the generational shifts and leadership transitions that many organizations are undergoing, which are linked both to the declining national economy and to the wave of retirements of founders whose organizations were created in the boom of Great Society social programs 30 years ago. The situation as a whole underlines the urgent need for increased focus on fieldwide communications and the necessity to collectively address issues of cultural survival, justice and equity. I recount all this to say that I believe it is important to maintain a continuity of dialogue, peer learning and exchange in order to build the momentum and capacity to re/generate movement that can have impact on a national scale. I envision New WORLD Theater’s upcoming Intersection conference, subtitled Re/Generations, as a next step - one of many - in a series of convenings, one that will then link to the first U.S. Social Forum (modeled on the annual World Social Forum), currently in the planning.
Intersection is New WORLD Theater’s biennial con-
ference and festival examining new work practices by artists of color. Begun in 1998, it offers a periodic investigation of practice at the “intersection” of NWT’s three primary areas of work: artistic production and presenting, scholarship and education (as a theater based at a university), and community engagement and activism. The last Intersection, “Future Aesthetics,” focused on the burgeoning growth and influence of the performance form known as Hip-Hop Theater, which has emerged as perhaps the most important site for cultural pluralism in contemporary performing arts – a reflection of the demographic shifts that are changing the racial and cultural profile of the United States.
Intersection IV: Re/Generations will be a truly intergenerational, broadly cross-cultural gathering, designed and led by people of color. Three full days of creative, cross-disciplinary dialogue will provide a multi-dimensional stage for engaging urgent national issues and their impact on global realities. A series of intergenerational sessions on “Bridging the Centuries of Art & Activism” will examine aesthetic and organizing strategies created by previous generations of practitioners and the development of new models by an emerging generation of creators and change agents. In tandem, we will investigate the language and contemporary relevance of multiculturalism in
relation to globalization and shifting demographics in the U.S., and identify new directions and self-definitions. For organizational leaders, we will convene conversations on the generational shifts in leadership that are occurring in arts and activist organizations, and how to build impact and sustainability through transitional times.
Re/Generations will begin with a Youth Convergence on Friday, April 7, for youth, artists and activists and educators who work with youth, hosted by NWT’s Project 2050. Keynote addresses will be given by New Orleans organizer Curtis Muhammad and Palestinian-American poet Suheir Hammad. Performances will include Project 2050’s “On the Frontlines: Sex, War and Lies;” the premier of Junebug Productions’ “Trying to Find My Way Back Home,” featuring William O’Neal; an Indigenous Artists Showcase in collaboration with the Dr. Josephine White Eagle Cultural Center, featuring FOMMA of Chiapas, Mexico, and Philippine dance troupe Kinding Sindaw; and Continuity and MOVEment: A Future Aesthetics Showcase, featuring Mango Tribe, Baba and Steve Ben Israel, and olive Dance Theatre in collaboration with Paula Larke. Through fostering intergenerational exchange and collectively envisioning new approaches to creative
intervention, we can identify and fashion methods some of which utilize the new aesthetic forms, such as Hip-Hop theater - that respond to current challenges in community organizing that are revolutionizing the American stage and engaging audiences around the world. We intend to create a space for reflection, planning, analysis and action; a space for articulation, documentation and dissemination of new directions in multiculturalism and movement building, expressed in “mini-manifestos,” next steps, and commissioned articles. We aim to support coalitional thinking among participants from diverse geographic, cultural, aesthetic and interdisciplinary spheres; and to support the strengthening, expansion and connection of existing networks by bringing people together in a shared spirit of inquiry and purpose. As the title suggests, coming together in solidarity at this historical moment can help us re/generate the hope and energy needed to meaningfully impact our immediate future, and the 21st century. As artists, performers, activists and educators, we are the producers of alternative media. We must come together, not only as responsible partners, but also as leaders and visionaries in doing the hard work of developing coalitional strategies, and living the questions even as we try to create answers. As artists and cultural workers living and working in the United States, this globally dominant and abusive superpower, we cannot abdicate our responsibility to create change from within. We must step up. We must.
I don’t know yet the impact that Re/Generations might have, but I know it is the next step in my commitment, my continuous search, my burning desire for extraordinary change. As Moira Brennan wrote following the National Convergence, “I’m encouraged and relieved that a national momentum is building, one that intends to organize itself along the principle of inclusion. It feels like the thing to do is to offer our passion to it ... I think we’ll be surprised by what that might unleash.” Talvin Wilks, then the Interim Artistic Director for New WORLD Theater, and I both served on that committee, along with John O’Neal, Lisa Mount, MK Wegmann, Matthew Schwarzman and many other dedicated ROOTS members and colleagues. 1
These statements can be found in “Reflections on New Orleans” in the Community Arts Network Reading Room: www.communityarts.net/readingroom/ archivefiles/2004/02/reflections_on.php. 2
To find out more about this case, visit the Critical Art Ensemble Defense Fund website: www.caedefensefund.org. 3
[Andrea Assaf, a performer, director, writer, educator and activist, is currently the Artistic Director of New WORLD Theater. Before joining New WORLD, Andrea was Program Associate for Animating Democracy. She is a member of Alternate ROOTS and RAWI (Radius of Arab American Writers).]
For more information see page
"The Future is on the Table #3", a project by ROOTS members Gwylene Gallimard and Jean-Marie Mauclet was on the road, part of "Capturing the Moving Mind: Management and Movement in the Age of Permanently Temporary War", an Ephemera Conference on the Trans-Siberian train (Moscow-NovosibirskBeijing) 11-20 Septembre 2005. For more information see www.kiasma.fi/transsiberia/ and www.fastandfrench.org
Keith Knight is a cartoonist and rapper based in San Francisco. His two weekly comic strips, "the K Chronicles" and "(th)ink", appear in publications nationwide. Keep an eye out for his work in an upcoming issue of Mad Magazine. His fifth collection of comics, "The Passion of the Keef" (Manic D Press), is available at www.kchronicles.com. Also look out for his collaboration with ROOTS member Mat Schwarzman “Beginner’s guide to Community Based-Arts” available at www.newvillagepress.net.
ALTERNATE ROOTS F.A.Q (Frequently Asked Question)
For a complete rundown of Alternate ROOTS F.A. Q., we recommend the altogether excellent ROOTS website: www.alternateroots.org Meanwhile, here are a few items you might find useful.
HISTORY Founded in 1976, Alternate ROOTS is dedicated to providing Southeastern artists working in all disciplines access to the kinds of technical and administrative resources they need in order to enhancve their artistic development. By sharing information and resources with artists and presenters, ROOTS supports the creation and presentation of new work and enables artists to get that work before a broader audience. This exchange of work, skills, critical analysis, and information serves to create opportunities beyond the scope and ability of any single individual or organizattion.
MISSION Alternate ROOTS is an organization based in the Southeast USA whose mission is to support the creation and presentation of original art in all its forms, which is rooted in a particular community of place, tradition or spirit. As a coalition of cultural workers, we strive to be allies in the elimination of all forms of oppression. ROOTS is committed to social and economic justice and the protection of the natural world and addresses these concerns through its programs and services.
PROGRAMS & RESOURCES Community/Artists’ Partnership Project (C/APP) is designed to fund, document, and teach community-based residency models to artists, arts presenters, and community partners regionally. Residency/Touring Program provides fee subsidies to rural, ethnically diverse, and emerging presenters in support of touring activities by ROOTS members in the Southeast. Resources for Social Change (RSC) offers professional development workshops convenes training institutes. The Annual Meeting is a weeklong gathering of members and supporters in a retreat setting. Activities include artistic and professional training, performances, networking opportunities, and training in “Uprooting Racism”. Publications include UP from the ROOTS, a quarterly journal with a distribution to over 7,000 readers, a monthly ROOTS member bulletin, the ROOTS webbsite (www.AlternateROOTS.org) and an anthology of original Southern plays. Regional Events are geographic clusters of ROOTS members that meet throughout the year to facilitate regional networking and alliance building as well as skill development and sharing work.
Alternate ROOTS 1083 Austin Ave NE Atlanta, GA 30307 404-577-1079 ofc 404-577-7991 fax firstname.lastname@example.org www.alternateroots.org
Non-Profit Org U.S. Postage PAID Atlanta, GA Permit No. 3851