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Diversity in the Arts Panel Discussion: Legends in the Field

Kay Theatre
Thursday, March 12, 2015 - 5:30 PM to 7:00 PM

Rapid changes in technology, demographics, government policy, and the economy challenge the very survival of arts organizations at an ever-increasing rate. For too many, these changes have led to less art, decreased visibility, diminished relevance — even financial collapse.

In response to these troubling trends, the Institute announces an in-depth exploration into one key issue facing the arts and cultural field each year. Each initiative will engage important arts leaders in a series of public symposia and related special projects, culminating in a white paper with recommendations for the field at large as well as practical solutions for arts managers.

The Institute’s first topic, Diversity in the Arts, will investigate the challenges facing organizations of color operating in the United States today, with a specific focus on African American and Latino theatre companies, dance companies, and museums. The arts served as a highly visible arena in the fight for civil rights and the need for healthy arts organizations of color is as great today as it ever was. Beginning in March 2015, the Institute will host three public symposia at The Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center featuring pioneers and current leaders from the field to discuss the history, current challenges, and future of these important organizations.

The first symposia, Legends in the Field, will reflect on the legacy of the trailblazing artists and founders of today’s leading African American and Latino arts organizations and their role in setting the stage for emerging artists of color. The panel, comprised of artists and managers who performed at the highest level for decades, will explore remarkable stories of breaking boundaries in the arts.

Moderated by Darren Walker, President of the Ford Foundation, the conversation will feature:

  • Rita Moreno, the first and only Puerto Rican actress to have won an Oscar, an Emmy, a Tony, and a GRAMMY
  • Arthur Mitchell, the first African American principal dancer with the New York City Ballet and the founder of Dance Theatre Harlem
  • Tina Ramirez, Venezuelan American dancer and choreographer and founder of Ballet Hispanico, the preeminent Latino dance organization in the country
  • Carmen de Lavallade, African American choreographer and dancer with the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater
  • Míriam Colón, founder and artistic director of the Puerto Rican Traveling Theatre, the pioneer of Hispanic theatre in the country
  • Lou Bellamy, founder and artistic director of Penumbra Theatre Company, the leading African American theatre in the country

Free, but reservations required.

Following Legends in the Field, two subsequent panels will examine the future of organizations of color, discussing challenges and solutions with current leaders. Sarah Bellamy, Co-Artistic Director of Penumbra Theatre Company in Saint Paul, Minnesota will curate and moderate a discussion focused on African American organizations and Michael-John Garcés, Artistic Director of Cornerstone Theater in Los Angeles, California will curate and moderate a discussion exploring the future of Latino organizations. Please check www.theclarice.umd.edu/DeVos for information on dates and locations.