WHAT WILL BE DIFFERENT?: A Conversation on Social Justice Arts Organizations In a Changing America
ArtPlace America, Creative Capital, Fractured Atlas, United States Artists, Caribbean Cultural Center African Diaspora Institute, & The Tate Group
WHAT WILL BE DIFFERENT?: A Conversation on Social Justice Arts Organizations In a Changing America

Day 2 of WE ARE THE PEOPLE WE’VE BEEN WAITING FOR: A Festival of Visionary Ideas, Activism & Arts

Given the pivotal role that cultural narratives play in deciding public policy and the fates of countless communities; the reversal of political momentum on immigrant, mass incarceration, criminal justice reform, and other issues; and the continuing threats to public arts funding, what will be different for organizations that work at the intersection of arts and social justice? Join us for a conversation with four brilliant thinkers:
Maha Chehlaoui, Founder/Advisory Board Member, Noor Theatre
Ken Chen, Executive Director, The Asian American Writers Workshop
Marissa Gutierrez-Vicario, Founder/Executive Director, Art and Resistance Through Education (ARTE)
Lauren Ruffin, Vice President of External Relations, Fractured Atlas.
Moderator: Kemi Ilesanmi, Executive Director, The Laundromat Project
Performance: Queen GodIs


Maha Chehlaoui served as Noor Theatre’s first executive director from its founding in 2009 until 2016. Together with Lameece Issaq and Nancy Vitale, Chehlaoui secured Noor’s nonprofit status, helped grow the donor and audience base, and established Noor as an acclaimed American theater. She was also a key collaborator in 7 seasons of programming. A founder and driving force in the creation of today’s cohesive Arab-American performing arts community, she is a skilled leader and communicator. Noortheatre.org

Author, attorney, translator, and Executive Director of the Asian American Writers’ Workshop, Ken Chen is a modern Renaissance man, balancing his life as a writer with his leadership of a national nonprofit arts organization. His first collection of poems, Juvenilia (Yale Press, 2010), received Honorable Mention at both the 2010 Los Angeles Book Festival and the 2011 New York Book Festival. His writing has appeared in Fence, Boston Review, Best American Essays, and elsewhere. He lives and works in NYC, where he also founded CultureStrike, a national organization seeking to bring artists into the migrant justice movement. aaww.org

Marissa Gutierrez-Vicario is the Founder and Executive Director of Art and Resistance Through Education (ARTE). As a committed human rights activist, artist, educator, and advocate for youth, she launched ARTE in 2013 to help young people amplify their voices and organize for human rights change in their communities through the arts. Gutierrez-Vicario writes on the intersection of human rights, art education, and youth development for the Huffington Post and Radical Teacher. She currently serves as an Adjunct Lecturer at the City College of New York in the Art Education Department. Artejustice.org

Lauren Olivia Ruffin is Fractured Atlas’s VP for External Relations, responsible for its marketing, communications, community engagement, and fundraising. Prior to joining Fractured Atlas, she served as Director of Development for DC-based Martha’s Table and the National Center for Children and Families. She also served in various roles at the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, Children’s Defense Fund, New Leaders, and AAUW. Before entering the nonprofit sector, Ruffin served as Assistant Director of Government Affairs for Gray Global Advisors, a bipartisan government relations firm. Fracturedatlas.org

Kemi Ilesanmi is Executive Director of The Laundromat Project. With over 14 years’ experience in the cultural arena, she is inspired by the immense possibilities for joy and change at the intersection of arts, activism and community. Prior to joining The LP, she was Director of Grants and Services at Creative Capital. From 1998-2004, she was a Visual Arts Curator at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis. She holds a Masters in Public Administration from NYU and a BA in Afro-American Studies from Smith College. She is also an alumna of the Coro Leadership New York program. Laundromatproject.org

Queen GodIs is a Poet, MC, and Performance Art Therapist. She engages voice and spirituality as “technology” to raise awareness, empower audiences, and activate healing beyond the page and stage. A lyricist with a penchant for Hip Hop, Poetry, and Soul, Queen has appeared at colleges and concert halls across the US and overseas as well as on MTV Radio, NPR, BBC, WBAI, HBO, and other outlets. She is currently producing The Book of Lyte, a creative dissertation and multimedia performance honoring Women and Gender Nonconforming MC’s (1978 – Present). QueenGodIs.com

WE ARE THE PEOPLE WE’VE BEEN WAITING FOR is a three-day festival of public forums and performances that will gather an array of top artists, activists, and thinkers to explore what America’s new political climate means for arts and culture. On July 13, 14 and 15, 2017, at three leading New York City Cultural institutions, we will explore what a changing America means for arts funders, social justice arts organizations, and artist-activists in our communities.

The festival is an extension of What Will Be Different?: Conversations in a Changing America, a traveling discussion series that explores how diverse issues and communities are affected by an era of sweeping political change. Created and curated by Brian Tate.

WHAT WILL BE DIFFERENT?: A Conversation on Social Justice Arts Organizations In a Changing America

ArtPlace America, Creative Capital, Fractured Atlas, United States Artists, Caribbean Cultural Center African Diaspora Institute, & The Tate Group
Friday, July 14, 2017
6:30 PM
The 8th Floor
17 W 17th Street, 8th FL
New York NY 10011
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May 28 7:00 PM
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