Keynote Speakers Announced for Virtual Symposium on Equity and Justice in the New Jersey Arts Community
New Jersey Theatre Alliance (“the Alliance”) and ArtPride New Jersey have partnered to offer a two-day virtual gathering, Creating Change: Moving Toward Equity, Justice, and Anti-racism in the New Jersey Arts Community. The event will take place virtually on April 22 and 23, 2021.
Creating Change has been designed by a steering committee chaired by Donna Walker-Kuhne, Senior Advisor for Community Engagement at NJPAC. Acknowledged as the nation’s foremost expert in Audience Development by the Arts &Business Council, Ms. Walker-Kuhne has devoted her professional career to increasing access to the arts. The committee is made up of staff from the two host organizations, New Jersey Theatre Alliance and ArtPride New Jersey, as well as arts leaders from around the state and representatives from nonprofit organizations outside of the arts, such as the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice.
Headlining the gathering will be two impressive speakers and arts leaders. Nikkole Salter will kick off the first day on April 22 with a talk focused on the importance of speaking truth to power and reckoning with history to inform the future. As a dramatist, Ms. Salter has written 8 full-length plays, been produced on 3 continents in 5 countries, and been published in 12 international publications. She has appeared in plays on Broadway, Off-Broadway, and regionally, and can be seen on television currently as Isabel Sarasa on NBC’s New Amsterdam. Ms. Salter is also the Executive Artistic Director of The Continuum Project, a non-profit organization that creates innovative artistic programming for community empowerment and enrichment.
The second day of the gathering, April 23, will feature a keynote speech by Vu Le, founder of the popular, irreverent, and influential blog NonProfit AF. Mr. Le’s talk, “A Time for Boldness,” will explore some of the current practices in the nonprofit arts sector that can reinforce oppressive systems, and begin to offer alternative models. Mr. Le is the former Executive Director of RVC, a nonprofit in Seattle that promotes social justice by developing leaders of color, strengthening organizations led by communities of color, and fostering collaboration between diverse communities.
“Creating Change: Moving Toward Equity, Justice and Anti-racism in the New Jersey Arts Community will be a dynamic two days filled with thoughtful discussions and presentations on what needs to be done by each individual to build an anti-racist arts community in New Jersey,” said Ms. Walker-Kuhne. “Every single participant will play a critical role in creating the culture of equity, belonging and respect. I am very excited about our keynote presenters, playwright Nikkole Salter and nonprofit advocate Vu Le who will bring a perspective that will enable everyone to reflect deeply and honestly on how we can all be an agent for change. As Steering Committee Chair, I am honored to work with a group of New Jersey arts administrators and artists who have made a solid commitment to illuminate, educate and illustrate how we move towards equity, justice and anti-racism in our arts community.”
Following the keynote speeches each day there will be breakout sessions on a variety of topics such as the intersection of disability justice and anti-racism; strategies for keeping equity at the center for executive leaders; and how to create, share, update and “walk the walk” of a public anti-racism statement. Both days will also showcase New Jersey Artists in a series of Artist Interludes. The full lineup of workshops, speakers, and artists will be available when registration opens in the coming weeks.
“We see this gathering as a chance to bring the arts community together to recognize the harm that has been experienced by people of color in our field, begin healing, and collectively move towards a more just and equitable future for the arts,” said John McEwen, Executive Director of New Jersey Theatre Alliance. “We are grateful for the support of our sponsors, which will allow this event to serve as a launching pad for many more opportunities to learn, grow, and connect together as a field.”
“ArtPride is grateful to have strong partners like the New Jersey Theatre Alliance as we strive together for social justice and equitable access to the arts for all,” added Adam Perle, President & CEO of ArtPride New Jersey. “Creating Change is an opportunity for the cultural community to see how our collective impact can shape a fairer, more just New Jersey.”
Creating Change is supported by the Grunin Foundation as a Spotlight Sponsor. Additional support is provided by the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, Princeton University’s Lewis Center for the Arts, and PSEG.
About New Jersey Theatre Alliance
Founded in 1981, New Jersey Theatre Alliance was the first statewide service organization for professional, not-for-profit theatre companies in the United States, and is a leader in developing model programs that unite, promote, strengthen, and cultivate professional theatre in New Jersey. Funding for the New Jersey Theatre Alliance, a not-for-profit organization, is provided in part by the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, a partner agency of the National Endowment for the Arts, New Jersey Division of Travel and Tourism, and contributions from individuals, corporations, and foundations including Amazon, the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, The Grunin Foundation, The Healthcare Foundation of New Jersey, The Horizon Foundation for New Jersey, Bank of America, City National Bank, The Shubert Foundation, The Blanche and Irving Laurie Foundation, Investors Bank, The Hyde and Watson Foundation, Kessler Foundation, The F.M. Kirby Foundation, E.J. Grassmann Trust, and The Union Foundation.
About the ArtPride New Jersey Foundation
The ArtPride New Jersey Foundation is a 501 (c)(3) organization that promotes the value of the arts to New Jersey’s quality of life, education, and economic vitality through research and a variety of programs and services. For more information about ArtPride, visit www.ArtPrideNJ.org