Talk the Talk

Excerpted panel from Júlía Hermannsdóttir's Always Thirsty

Panel from Júlía Hermannsdóttir’s Always Thirsty

In the coming weeks I’ll be leading a workshop and moderating a couple of panels, including one panel at the Brooklyn Museum that I put together and am really excited to share. Details with links below:

How Do Artists Get Paid?
A look at how artists can deal with the question of payment and think about building a sustainable practice.
Wed, April 16, 2014, from 6-8pm
at the Lower East Side Printshop
307 West 37th Street, 6th Fl, New York, NY 10018
Registration is required; fee varies

Unpaid Labor in the Arts – Art Workers Rights and Wages
Pretty much just what the title says, but I’m hoping to throw in a couple of interesting twists.
Sun, April 27, 2014, at 5pm
at Radio Bushwick
22 Wyckoff Ave, New York, NY 11237
No registration needed; free
webpage (site currently has wrong date, they are fixing it, it’s the 27th)

[Panel – the one I’m really excited about]
The Art of Feeling: Contemporary Arts Writing and the Internet
How feminism and feelings intersect with internet-based arts writing.
Thur, May 1, 2014 at 7pm
at the Brooklyn Museum
Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Auditorium, 3rd Floor
200 Eastern Parkway, Brooklyn, New York 11238
No registration needed; free with museum admission

Launching the Unknown Play Project

This year I’m launching The Unknown Play Project, a documentary film project looking at some of the stories behind the changes happening in spaces where lesbians and queer women have been gathering to socialize and organize for the past few decades. Despite numerous political gains for LGBTQ individuals in the US over the past 20 years, many spaces where lesbians gather are fading out, struggling financially, or embroiled in conflict. This documentary will try to understand why that’s happening.

In 2012 I wrote a play titled Unknown that was inspired by the 40-year-old Lesbian Herstory Archives in Brooklyn, NY. It offers a portrait of a small community of lesbians that spans four generations, and it explores some of the different ways the seven women in it relate to the term “lesbian” and also to a fictional version of the Archives. When I did the first public reading of the play, I chose to do it at the Archives and, rather than bring in professional actors and a director, I asked members of the community to read the work aloud. That experience and the conversations that followed it are what gave rise to this project.

At each stop along the journey we’ll not only talk with the people we meet at these spaces, as well as some people who no longer spend time in them, we’ll also host community-based readings of the play Unknown.

Learn more about the project and the crew. Watch a couple of videos. And view some of the research we’ve been doing.

Here Comes A Brand New Year


It’s been a busy year. My Jesus Year, according to popular lore. When I haven’t had my head down, there has been much to see and do.

Thank you to everyone who provided support, help, comfort, friendship, fun and moments of joy this year. Thanks to everyone who took time to read my work and to those who responded to it. Thanks to everyone who made the work that I enjoyed and responded to. Thanks to all the communities that have welcomed and provided space for me and many others. I’ve met so many wonderful new people this year and spent time with people I’ve come to know much better over these twelve months. I am very grateful that each of you have helped widen my world and share your worlds with me.

I remain very curious to see what’s coming next.

Have a wonderful end of the year, my love to those who are dealing with difficulty this solstice season, and my wishes for a happy New Year to all!

A Few Quick Updates & Recommendations

EDNAIt’s been a busy but a good one. I’ve been working on my book project, taught my first class on Arts and Labor in Brooklyn that was attended by a wonderful group of people, and am in the planning and research stage of cross-country reading tour of my play, Unknown, that will be taking place in 2014.

Also, in September, a very brief excerpt of Unknown was published in the latest issue of EDNA, the journal of the Millay Colony for the Arts, where I wrote the first draft of the play. It’s free and available in a digital edition online (mine starts on p. 21).

For the weeks ahead, I’m planning a couple of follow-ups to the class, including an ebook that will cover some of the topics we discussed. And there should be more to report in the months ahead on the play project.

In the meantime, keep an eye out for articles from me about the arts and performance on Hyperallergic.

And I can also recommend these organizations and projects as great things to check out this fall, if you haven’t already:

The Hemispheric Institute of Performance and Politics
Radical Presence NY
Lorraine Hansberry exhibit opening at the Brooklyn Museum on Nov. 22

Art & Labor Class

LaborClassStarting on August 27, I will be facilitating a class in Brooklyn on art and labor.

There are a lot of people looking at these issues across different fields of the arts, and it’s come up in my own writing a lot lately and in many events I’ve participated in or attended. The idea for this class is to spend some concentrated time looking at both historic and contemporary examples of many different kinds of artists (musicians, visual artists, performing artists, etc.) organizing around labor issues. I hope the class will bring together a variety of people who can make use of the information in their own lives and communities.

Some basic info about the class:

Rights, Demands, and Radical Reimaginings: Art and Labor in the US

Tuesday evenings, from 7.00-8.30 (or 9.00) pm
Aug 27 – Sep 24, 2013 (5 sessions)

Brooklyn, NY (see class reg for full details)

Registration is required and there is a fee (sliding scale and barter available).

Click to register and get the full details.

Discount code to get $15 off: ACFRND. 

For some context, and a quick primer on some of the ways that artists are organizing around labor issues today, have a look at this piece I wrote that was published earlier this week on both Hyperallergic and Salon:

How Are Artists Getting Paid?

Production of Elephant in the Room

This weekend I’ll be traveling to St. Louis to attend the opening night production of my play The Elephant in the Room, which was selected to be part of the St. Louis Actors’ Studio inaugural LaBute New Theater Festival.

The show will run from July 5 – 14 at the
Gaslight Theatre
358 N. Boyle Ave
St. Louis, MO 63108
Get tickets and more info here.

Please join me if you happen to be in St. Louis on the 5th, or attend the show on one of the following dates.

Even though I’m only going to be in St. Louis for a very brief time I can’t wait to revisit the City Museum. I consider it one of the greatest places on earth. I visited for the first time a couple of years ago while on a research trip for my play The Typewriter Girls, and I am incredibly excited to see what has been added since my last visit. If you’re ever in St. Louis, I highly recommend it.

Play to be Produced in St. Louis

labute-logo-officialMy play The Elephant in the Room was named a finalist in the first annual Labute New Theater Festival, started by the St. Louis Actors’ Studio in St. Louis, Missouri. I’ll post more details here as I learn them, but the play will be produced as part of the festival in July 2013, at the Gaslight Theater in St. Louis.

I’m hoping to be able to travel to see it, but I’m actually in rehearsal for another show that we were going to do a work-in-progress showing of in late July, so it will depend on the timing. But either way, I’m excited to have the play be part of this new festival.

Bring Your Own Discussion

I was invited to be part of a discussion taking place at Harvard. The discussion will focus on the challenges that artists working in all forms face in getting paid for their creative work. Many discussions have been taking place live and online around these topics over the past couple of years, and they have taken place in different forms in decades past. Of course, no single discussion will solve the problem, but I’m looking forward to comparing notes with my fellow speakers, Jesal Kapadia of MIT and and Lise Soskolne of W.A.G.E.

Please join if you’re in the Boston area:

Wednesday, April 10 @ 7.00pm
Capenter Center for the Visual Arts
Harvard University
24 Quincy Street, Cambridge, MA 02138
This event is free and doesn’t require tickets or RSVP.
Further info

Recent Arts Journalism and Discussion

MockFightatDeathMatch-Jan2013-1I was asked to take part in Flux Factory’s Death Match: Arts Funding, Follow the $$$$ in January of this year. It was a bit raucous and a laugh, but it got me thinking about a few things. Lucky for me, the National Endowment for the Arts blog editor asked me to write a recap of the event for them, so I had a chance to think through some of what we talked about in the debate. Read it here:

A Fight to the Death for Arts Funding?

That piece follows up on a series of articles and essays I’ve been writing over at Hyperallergic about the role of the arts in US society. All this writing builds on the research I’m doing for a book that I’m writing about the value of the arts in America.

Here are a couple of the other pieces that I’ve written lately:

Failure, Success, and Community in Contemporary Performance

Recovering the History of the Puerto Rican Art Workers’ Coalition

A Grand Unified Theory of Art?

The Perplexing Role of Metrics in the Arts

It Is Broke, We Should Probably Fix It: The Nonprofit Model and the Arts

Good Intentions and Big Ideas: Feel Good Grants That Exploit Artists and Reduce Arts Funding

View the complete archive of my pieces for Hyperallergic here.