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Public Forum: Creative Activism: A Day Of Art, Ideas, and Action


Full Day Summit
September 23, 2020

Public Forum Presents

Featuring Dominique Morisseau, Alison Stewart, Angélique RochéClaudia Rankine, P. Carl, Erika Dickerson-Despenza, Lady Dane Figueroa Edidi, and Cara Page; workshops with For Freedoms and The Brennan Center for Justice, and more.

With less than 50 days until the 2020 Election, the need to activate our civic power has never been stronger. Public Forum will help you harness your power for change with CREATIVE ACTIVISM, a day-long summit of art, ideas, and action featuring some of the leading creatives and community organizers in our country. CREATIVE ACTIVISM will feature panel discussions, workshops, performances, and keynote addresses, all designed to connect you with the artists and activists who are making change in today’s world. 

Session 2: WIDE AWAKE: Art & The Future of Justice
Session 3: DIRTY TRICKS: 9 Falsehoods That Could Undermine the 2020 Election
Session 4: AN AMERICAN CONVERSATION: Claudia Rankine & P. Carl  
Session 5: OUR MOMENT, OUR MOVEMENT: An Interview with Dominique Morisseau

Full Day Summit
September 23, 2020


RSVPs have closed for this event - Re-watch the sessions below
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RSVPs have closed for this event - Re-watch the sessions below

WED 09/23 11:00 AM

Free For All

PUBLIC FORUM: CREATIVE ACTIVISM will be a full day summit that will take place from 11AM - 8PM EST on The Public Theater's YouTube Channel and Facebook Page. Viewers are encouraged to visit the stream and participate in the comments throughout the day, and the individual discussions will be shared online within 48 hours after the summit.

Opening Panel Discussion: FINDING OUR POLITICAL HOME
As we navigate through a series of nested pandemics, the need for community care practices, mutual aid networks, and grassroots political reform has never been clearer. How do we look beyond electoral politics and the Presidential election cycle to find our place in the ongoing movement for change? Featuring artists/organizers Erika Dickerson-Despenza, Cara Page, and Lady Dane Figueroa Edidi.

Workshop: WIDE AWAKE: Art & The Future of Justice
Hosted by For Freedoms
The urgency for a new world has sounded the call, and we are all needed to build the future we’ve been waiting for. Join For Freedoms, an artist-led organization that models and increases creative civic engagement, discourse and direct action, as they discuss their vision for creative activism in 2020 – and beyond. Featuring fine artists Niama Sandy, Anya Ayoung Chee, Helina Metaferia, Kaneza Schaal, and Claudia Peña.

Workshop: DIRTY TRICKS: 9 Falsehoods That Could Undermine the 2020 Election
Hosted by The Brennan Center for Justice
The 2020 election will be hard-fought and divisive. But there is also a significant risk that manufactured crises may undercut trust in the accuracy of our election, inflame partisan tensions, and destabilize our democracy. Join the Brennan Center for Justice, a nonpartisan law and policy institute based at NYU’s school of law, as they outline the lies, misconceptions, and false arguments that voters will have to contend with in 2020. Featuring policy experts Myrna Pérez, Sean Morales-Doyle, Liz Howard and hosted by journalist Angélique Roché.

Interview: AN AMERICAN CONVERSATION: Claudia Rankine & P. Carl
Join noted poet, author, playwright and cultural worker Claudia Rankine as she discusses her new book Just Us, her experiences navigating the worlds of academia and the American Theatre, and her vision for working across difference to create change. Moderated by artist, activist, scholar, and author P. Carl.

Interview: OUR MOMENT, OUR MOVEMENT: An Interview with Dominique Morisseau
Co-Presented with WNYC’s Greene Space
We are thrilled to close our Creative Activism summit with an in-depth conversation with award-winning playwright and MacArthur Genius Grant fellow Dominique Morisseau. As a Detroit-born artist who is one of the few Black women produced on Broadway, Dominique will share her perspective on movement building, and how the arts help empower every person with the language and vocabulary they need to create change. This interview is co-presented with WNYC’s Greene Space and hosted by journalist Alison Stewart (All of It).
Public Forum: Creative Activism: A Day Of Art, Ideas, and Action is Closed Captioned. For more information on accessibility, please reach out to [email protected].


Image of Anya Ayoung Chee

Anya Ayoung Chee

Anya Ayoung Chee is a fashion designer, consultant and social entrepreneur based in Trinidad and Tobago. Over the last decade she has endeavoured to expand Caribbean creative entrepreneurship regionally and internationally. A graduate of Parsons School of Design and Central St Martins School of Art and Design, she began her career in the arts, first as a graphic designer and then she made her way into the fashion industry. Having achieved the success of winning ‘Project Runway’, in 2011 she has remained determined to use her experience and exposure to catapult the local fashion market. Her Caribbean fashion collectives, Exhibit A, cANYAval and her co-working space, HOME have all provided platforms for young creatives to nurture their skills, reach a wider audience, test and experiment with their entrepreneurial efforts and gradually develop their paths toward independent, yet collective, growth. Subsequently, her foundation, TogetherWI, was created. It combines innovation and design thinking methodologies to tackle social issues currently plaguing the Caribbean region. Most recently, Anya’s entrepreneurial journey has come full circle with her endeavor, ‘WYLD FLWR’. This is a brand of festival fashion clothing items offering embellished swimwear and accessories that are inspired by Trinidad Carnival and target the global festival wear market, to be sold via e-commerce platform to an international audience.

Image of P. Carl

P. Carl

is a Senior Distinguished Artist in Residence, Department of Performing Arts, at Emerson College in Boston and the author of the memoir, Becoming a Man: The Story of a Transition. He was the Spring 2020 Anschutz Fellow at Princeton University, awarded a 2017 Art of Change Fellowship from the Ford Foundation, the Berlin Prize fellowship from the American Academy for the Fall of 2018, and the Andrew W. Mellon Creative Research Residency at the University of Washington. His work has been published in the New York Times Magazine, The Boston Globe Magazine, and Lit Hub. He is currently working on the stage adaptation of Becoming a Man, commissioned by American Repertory Theater.

Image of Erika Dickerson-Despenza

Erika Dickerson-Despenza

is a Blk feminist poet-playwright, cultural worker, educator and grassroots organizer from Chicago, Illinois. She is a National Arts & Culture Delegate for the U.S. Water Alliance's One Water Summit 2019. Erika is also the recipient of the 2019 Princess Grace Playwriting Award and the 2019-2020 Tow Playwright-in-Residence at Public Theater. Other residencies and fellowships include: Vineyard Arts Project (2019), New York Stage and Film (2019), New Harmony Project (2019), Dramatists Guild Foundation Fellow (2018-2019) and The Lark’s Van Lier New Voices Fellow (2018). Erika is a 2019-2020 member of Ars Nova Play Group and a member of Ensemble Studio Theatre's Youngblood collective. Current plays in development include: shadow/land and cullud wattah (Public Theater, 2020). In addition to this water tetralogy, Erika is developing a 10-play Katrina Cycle, including [hieroglyph], focused on the effects of Hurricane Katrina and its state-sanctioned man-made disaster.

Image of Lady Dane Figueroa Edidi

Lady Dane Figueroa Edidi

Dubbed the Ancient Jazz Priestess of Mother Africa, Lady Dane Figueroa Edidi is a Nigerian, Cuban, Indigenous, American Performance Artist, Author, Playwright (Klytmnestra: An Epic Slam Poem, For Black Trans Girls…),  a 2x Helen Hayes Award Nominated Choreographer (2016, 2018), Advocate (Founder of the Inanna D Initiatives),  Educator and co-editor of the Black Trans Prayer Book.She is the first Trans woman of color to be nominated for a Helen Hayes Award (2016), and in DC to publish a work of Fiction (Yemaya’s Daughters (2013).   She costars as Patra in the new web series King Ester.

Image of Liz Howard

Liz Howard

serves as senior counsel for the Brennan Center’s Democracy Program. Her work focuses on election security. Howard regularly comments for television, radio, and print media on issues relating to election security and election administration and has testified before U.S. House Committee on Homeland Security and in a variety of state legislatures. She has also co-authored multiple Brennan Center reports and white papers:  Better Safe Than Sorry (2018),  Defending Elections: Federal Funding Needs for State Election Security  (2019), Trump-Russia Investigations: A Guide Preparing for Cyberattacks and Technical Failures: A Guide for Election Officials  (2019).

Prior to joining the Brennan Center, Howard served as deputy commissioner for the Virginia Department of Elections. During her tenure, she coordinated many election administration modernization projects, including the decertification of all paperless voting systems, implementation of the e-Motor Voter program, and adoption of online, paperless absentee ballot applications, for which the department received a 2017 Innovations in American Government Bright Ideas Award from the Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation at the Harvard Kennedy School.

She previously worked as general counsel at Rock the Vote, a nonprofit organization dedicated to engaging young people in politics and as a senior associate at Sandler Reiff in Washington, DC, where she specialized in election law with a focus on voting rights, campaign finance, and postelection disputes. Howard earned her JD from the William & Mary Law School and received the Alumnus of the Year award from the William & Mary Election Law Society.

Image of Helina Metaferia

Helina Metaferia

is an interdisciplinary artist working in performance, video, installation, and collage. Her work interrogates the politics of the body in space, particularly as it relates to notions of identity and citizenship. Helina has exhibited her work at venues including Museum of African Diaspora (San Francisco), Museum of Fine Arts (Boston), Smack Mellon (New York), Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit (Detroit), and Modern Art Museum Gebre Kirtos Desta Center (Addis Ababa, Ethiopia). Her work has been featured in Hyperallergic, Artnet News, The Boston Globe, San Francisco Chronicle, The Washington Post, Bmore Art, and Performa Magazine. Helina completed her MFA in 2015 at Tufts University’s School of the Museum of Fine Arts and attended the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture. She has been awarded residencies at MacDowell, Yaddo, Bemis Center for Contemporary Art, MASS MoCA, and Triangle Arts Association. She is an Andrew W. Mellon Fellow / Assistant Professor at Brown University, and lives and works in New York City.

Image of Sean Morales-Doyle

Sean Morales-Doyle

serves as Senior Counsel in the Democracy Program. His work is focused on voting rights and elections, including automatic voter registration, voter fraud, and voting rights restoration. Mr. Morales-Doyle is a seasoned litigator with experience in all manner of civil rights and constitutional matters, as well as a background in labor and employment law. Prior to joining the Brennan Center, Mr. Morales-Doyle was a shareholder at Despres, Schwartz & Geoghegan, Ltd., in Chicago. There, he litigated cases involving voting rights, gerrymandering, free speech, police misconduct, race discrimination,and sexual harassment. He also represented workers and unions in a wide variety of labor and employment cases and advocated on behalf of consumers in a number of consumer fraud cases against payday lenders and other predatory businesses.

Image of Dominique Morisseau

Dominique Morisseau

is the author of The Detroit Project (A 3-Play Cycle) which includes: Skeleton Crew (Atlantic Theater Company), Paradise Blue (Signature Theatre), and Detroit ’67 (Public Theater, Classical Theatre of Harlem and NBT). Additional plays: Pipeline (Lincoln Center Theatre), Sunset Baby (LAByrinth Theatre); Blood at the Root (National Black Theatre) and Follow Me To Nellie’s (Premiere Stages). She is also the TONY nominated book writer for Broadway musical Ain’t Too Proud – The Life and Times of the Temptations (Imperial Theatre). Dominique served as Co-Producer on the Showtime series “Shameless” (3 seasons) and is a recent MacArthur Genius Grant Fellow.

Image of Cara Page

Cara Page

Cara Page is a Black Queer Feminist cultural/memory worker, curator, and organizer. She has organized with liberation movements in the US & Global South at the intersections of racial, gender, economic & disability justice, healing justice and transformative justice. She is lead curator & organizer of, Changing Frequencies, an archival/memory and cultural change project to intervene on generational trauma, policing and state violence from the Medical Industrial Complex. She is co-founder of the Kindred Southern Healing Justice Collective; and the former ED of The Audre Lorde Project. Currently, Cara is a recent recipient of the Soros Equality Fellowship (2019-2020).What is one piece of advice you would give to people hoping to change the world we live in/engage in creative activism?That we are constantly open to being transformed through the process of creation and organizing. Bio Pic Credits; Shalini Eddens

Image of Claudia Peña

Claudia Peña

Claudia Peña serves as the Executive Director of For Freedoms which is an artist-led platform for civic engagement, discourse, and direct action for artists in the United States. She is on faculty at UCLA School of Law and in the Gender Studies department, and also affiliated with the Prison Education Program which creates innovative courses that enable faculty and students to learn from, and alongside, participants who are currently incarcerated. She's a member, and also on staff, of the Guild of Future Architects which is a home, refuge and resource for people collaboratively shaping a kind, just, inclusive, and prosperous world. Claudia is the Co-Founder of Repair, a Los Angeles-based organization focused on the health and the disabling effects of inequity, violence, exploitation. Prior to that, Claudia was the Statewide Director of the California Civil Rights Coalition (CCRC) for over five years. While there, she focused on racial justice, gender equity, voting rights, LGBTQIA+ rights, equal opportunity, progressive taxation, policies, housing rights and coordinating ballot initiative efforts. She was previously Equal Justice Society’s Judge Constance Baker Motley Civil Rights Fellow where she researched and presented on issues of implicit bias and equal protection.

Image of Myrna Pérez

Myrna Pérez

is Director of the Brennan Center's Voting Rights and Elections Program. An expert on voting rights and election administration, she is the author of several nationally recognized reports and articles, including Purges: A Growing Threat to the Right to Vote (July 2018), Noncitizen Voting: The Missing Millions (May 2017), and Election Day Long Lines: Resource Allocation (Sept. 2014). Her work has been featured in media outlets across the country, including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, MSNBC, and others. She has testified before Congress and several state legislatures on a variety of voting rights related issues. She is a lecturer-in-law at Columbia Law School and has also served as an Adjunct Professor of Clinical Law at NYU School of Law.

Prior to joining the Brennan Center, Ms. Pérez was the Civil Rights Fellow at Relman, Dane & Colfax, a civil rights law firm in Washington, D.C. She graduated from Columbia Law School, where she was a Lowenstein Public Interest Fellow. Following law school, Ms. Pérez clerked for the Hon. Anita B. Brody of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania and for the Hon. Julio M. Fuentes of the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. She previously served as the Chair of the Election Law Committee of the City of New York Bar Association. Ms. Pérez was awarded the Puerto Rican Bar Association Award for Excellence in Academia, andwas named one of 2014’s 50 Hispanic Influentials by Hispanic Business.

Ms. Pérez earned her undergraduate degree in Political Science from Yale University. She obtained a master's degree in public policy from Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government, where she was the recipient of the Robert F. Kennedy Award for Excellence in Public Service. Prior to law school, she was a Presidential Management Fellow, serving as a policy analyst for the United States Government Accounting Office on a range of issues, including housing and health care.

Image of Claudia Rankine

Claudia Rankine

Claudia Rankine is the author of six collections of poetry, including Just Us: An American ConversationCitizen: An American Lyric and Don’t Let Me Be Lonely; three plays including HELP, which premiered in March of 2020 at The Shed, NYC, The White Card, which premiered in February 2018 (ArtsEmerson/ American Repertory Theater) and was published by Graywolf Press in 2019, and Provenance of Beauty: A South Bronx Travelogue; as well as numerous video collaborations. She is also the co-editor of several anthologies including The Racial Imaginary: Writers on Race in the Life of the Mind (FENCE, 2015). In 2016, she co-founded The Racial Imaginary Institute (TRII). Among her numerous awards and honors, Rankine is the recipient of the Bobbitt National Prize for Poetry, the Poets & Writers’ Jackson Poetry Prize, and fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the Lannan Foundation, the MacArthur Foundation, United States Artists, and the National Endowment of the Arts. Rankine teaches at Yale University as the Frederick Iseman Professor of Poetry and lives in New Haven, Connecticut.

Image of Angélique Roché

Angélique Roché

Angélique has contributed to NBC News, Huffington Post, Marvel.com and Rewire News. She currently hosts the Marvel's Voices podcast, WQXR's Biggest Questions at the Greene Space, SyfyWire's Geeksplain, and is a co-host of The Radical Geeks and Women of Marvel podcasts among others.

Formerly, Angélique served as the VP, External Affairs at the Ms. Foundation for Women. She has also worked on various political campaigns including as campaign manager for Nina Turner for Ohio Secretary of State (2014) and as a Regional Field Director for Obama for America NC (2012). She also served as an Associate Director for the 2013 Presidential Inaugural Committee.

Angelique holds a B.A. in Print Journalism from Southern University and A & M College, a J.D. from the Southern University Law Center, and a LL.M. in International and Comparative Law from GW Law. In addition, she is a graduate and previous board member of the Women's Campaign School at Yale.

Image of Niama Safia Sandy

Niama Safia Sandy

Niama Safia Sandy is a New York-based cultural anthropologist, curator, producer, multidisciplinary artist and educator. Niama’s work delves into the human story, often with stories of the Global Black diaspora at its center.
She currently hosts and produces a weekly conversation series FOR/FOUR, featuring Black women and non-binary persons in the arts and culture. Niama recently helped found The Blacksmiths, a new coalition of culture workers standing together to forge support for Black liberation against anti-Black racism in the academy and at presenting institutions. Through The Blacksmiths, Niama has produced resources and public events engaging communities, activists, artists across disciplines, and more to close the gaps in appropriate opportunities for Black artists, curators, and administrators on the global stage. Additionally, Niama is a member of the Resistance Revival Chorus, a group of women-identifying people who bring song to life in the spirit of activism, collective joy and resistance. She has presented work, and convened panels at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, Creative Time Summit, Harvard University, Oberlin College, Rhode Island School of Design, Prizm Art Fair, UNTITLED & more. She has written for Artsy, Active Cultures LA, MFON: Women Photographers of the Black DiasporaNAD NOW, and many other outlets. Niama is currently a Visiting Assistant Professor at Pratt Institute.

Image of Kaneza Schaal

Kaneza Schaal

is a New York City based theater artist. Her recent work JACK & showed in BAM’s 2018 Next Wave Festival, Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, and with its co-commissioners Walker Arts Center, REDCAT, On The Boards, Cincinnati Contemporary Arts Center, and Portland Institute for Contemporary Art. Schaal received a 2019 United States Artists Fellowship, SOROS Art Migration and Public Space Fellowship, 2018 Ford Foundation Art For Justice Bearing Witness Award, 2017 MAP Fund Award, 2016 Creative Capital Award, and was an Aetna New Voices Fellow at Hartford Stage. Her last project, GO FORTH, premiered at Performance Space 122 and then showed at the Genocide Memorial Amphitheater in Kigali, Rwanda; Contemporary Arts Center New Orleans; Cairo International Contemporary Theater Festival in Egypt; and at her alma mater Wesleyan University, CT. Schaal’s piece CARTOGRAPHY premiered at The Kennedy Center in January 2019 and was workshopped through New Victory Theater Lab and NYU Abu Dhabi. Most recently, she directed Bryce Dessner’s Triptych (Eyes of One on Another), which premiered at LA Philharmonic, The Power Center in Ann Arbor, MI, BAM Opera House and Holland Festival. In July 2019 she premiered a new dance work, MAZE, at The Shed in NYC. Her work has also been supported by Baryshnikov Arts Center, Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, Nathan Cummings Foundation, Foundation for Contemporary Arts, Theater Communications Group, and a Princess Grace George C. Wolfe Award

Image of Alison Stewart

Alison Stewart

Alison Stewart is host of All Of It, WNYC’s daily live afternoon program about culture and the culture in and around New York City. She began her career as a producer and reporter for MTV News’ breakthrough presidential campaign coverage “Choose or Lose” -- which earned her a Peabody Award. Since then, Stewart has spent over two decades reporting for all the major national news networks. She has anchored her own groundbreaking and successful news programs on NPR, PBS, ABC and MSNBC, and reported from the floor of six presidential conventions, the Olympics, and the World Trade Center on 9/11. Her audio experience includes hosting NPR’s experimental digital news program Bryant Park Project and the first season of TED Radio Hour. Most recently, she served as contributing editor with The Atlantic LIVE and a contributor to PBS NewsHour.


WIDE AWAKE: Art & The Future of Justice - Hosted by For Freedoms
DIRTY TRICKS: 9 Falsehoods That Could Undermine the 2020 Election
OUR MOMENT, OUR MOVEMENT: An Interview with Dominique Morisseau