Following the August 1 Broadway for Black Lives Matter event, in which the New York theatre community stood up and sang out for social change, the organizing artists are taking things a step further with the new Broadway Advocacy Coalition, which will hold its first event November 6.
Adrienne Warren, Amber Iman, Cameron J. Ross, Britton Smith, Christian Dante White, and Jacquelyn Bell are leading the charge with Broadway Advocacy Coalition and have partnered with Columbia Law School to present a monthly series entitled The Invitation, which will “promote civic education, community outreach, self-care and liberation, social equality in our neighborhoods and the importance of unity in the pursuit of immediate social change.”
The first event, held November 6 at Columbia—where the August Black Lives Matter event was presented to a standing-room-only crowd—will focus on political participation. Read WHY BLACK LIVES MATTER, ESPECIALLY TO BROADWAY
Iman, a cast member of the Tony-nominated Shuffle Along, was the driving force behind the Black Lives Matter event. Her Facebook status—a cry for help following the death of multiple black lives at the hands of police officers—was the catalyst that sparked the conversation. Following the success of the August 1 event, Iman and her collaborators regrouped to determine what’s next.
“We want to engage, empower, encourage, enlighten our community as a whole,” she explains. “Black, white, purple, LGBTQ, children—everyone needs to be involved in what’s going on and what’s happening in our world. [With a] new name [and a] new mission, we decided, going forth, we wanted to continue the work we did August 1, but in a smaller, more controlled environment. So this new series will be at Columbia in this gorgeous hall that holds about 400 people.
“Instead of so many different performing artists, we’ll have one singer, one spoken-word piece and maybe a dance, maybe [another] kind of performance art. We want to make sure that we are tying art with activism, which is ‘artivism,’ our new term that we branded. This month is political participation, next month maybe police brutality, the month after that can be privilege. We’re still coming up with the topics, but every month will focus just on one topic, so that the two hours that we’re there will be focused on really learning, receiving, giving information [and] asking questions, so that the community has an opportunity to let their voices be heard, but also learn from community activists and policy reformists and educators.”
Iman also explained that audience members may be broken into groups to create art that will propel the movement forward.
“Let’s use our bodies, let’s use our mind, let’s use our voices to express how we feel and [how we] receive the information,” she says. “But it’s also going to be speeches, it’s also going to be dialogue. We want to have Q&As, we want to open it up to the audience, so they can ask questions.”
She continues, “I was having a conversation with Ben Vereen, and he said that the power that we have as artists is to bring people together. … If we can be the liaisons between the community and the leaders, and if we can bring everyone together in a room to start a conversation, I think good things could happen.”
The November 6 event will take place at the Altschul Auditorium—School of International and Public Affairs at Columbia University located at 420 W. 118th Street in Manhattan. Click here for tickets.