National Performance Network > News & Events
News & Events
Notices for partners, news for artists, announcements from the field, job postings.
The National Performance Network, including the Visual Artists Network (NPN/VAN), has named Caitlin Strokosch, currently executive director of the Alliance of Artists Communities, as its new President and CEO. Strokosch will assume responsibilities in July 2016 and will succeed MK Wegmann, who is retiring after 15 years of leading NPN/VAN.
Strokosch’s selection comes after an extensive national search that generated a pool of highly qualified candidates. Abe Rybeck and Abel Lopez, outgoing and incoming board chair respectively, and members of the search committee express enthusiasm about Strokosch’s appointment: “We are very excited to welcome Caitlin to NPN/VAN. She is an internationally recognized advocate for artists and has strong business acumen. In addition, she has a demonstrated commitment to advancing equity and social change through artistic expression and dialogue. Her inspired leadership will ensure that NPN/VAN remains at the forefront of efforts that promote the practice and public experience of the arts in the United States.”
Strokosch has served the Alliance of Artists Communities, an international association of artist residency programs since 2002, and was named executive director of the organization in 2008. During her tenure, she organized international residencies for emerging Arab writers, conducted national level research on the sustainability of artist residency centers, and expanded the Alliance’s grantmaking in partnership with the Ford Foundation, Pew Fellowships in the Arts, 3Arts, the Rockefeller Foundation, and others. Prior to joining the Alliance, she managed several nonprofit music ensembles in Chicago, including the acclaimed chamber choir Bella Voce and the pioneering new music group CUBE.
“It is an honor and a delight to be selected as the next President and CEO of NPN/VAN,” says Strokosch. “I have long admired MK Wegmann’s extraordinary leadership and the organization’s commitment to supporting artists at the forefront of social change. NPN/VAN’s core values of cultural equity and freedom of expression are more important now than ever, and I look forward to joining an incredible team to further this work.”
NPN/VAN is based in New Orleans and supports a local network as well as its national, international and regional programs. Caitlin looks forward to working with the New Orleans community. New Orleans native Gia Hamilton, director of the Joan Mitchell Center on Bayou Road, says, “I have worked with Caitlin for years now and I am excited to welcome her to New Orleans. She understands how to build strong and deep partnerships that strengthen the infrastructure of the local and national arts community. Bravo!”
Strokosch is a frequent public speaker and has served as a grants panelist for the National Endowment for the Arts, the Joyce Foundation, the Educational Foundation of America, the Rasmuson Foundation, and the Rhode Island State Council on the Arts. She currently serves on Grantmakers in the Arts’ board of directors. She holds a bachelor’s degree in music performance from Columbia College in Chicago and a master’s degree in musicology from Roosevelt University in Chicago, where her research focused on music as a tool for building communities of resistance and social dissent.
The Association of Performing Arts Presenters (APAP) honored the top performing arts leaders of 2015 at its annual Awards Ceremony and Luncheon on January 18, 2016. Actor Ben Vereen addressed the honorees and attendees at the event that is part of APAP|NYC 2016, the association’s annual conference and gathering of performing arts professionals. One of the most popular events each year at APAP|NYC, winners are nominated by their peers for having had a significant impact on the industry and on communities worldwide. “This year’s awardees have forged paths of progress for performing arts through vision, passion and hard work. From inspiring great performance to supporting artists and advocating for arts, these beloved leaders continue to make an impact and we are proud to shine a spotlight on each of them and their achievements,” said Mario Garcia Durham, president and CEO of APAP.
The Fan Taylor Distinguished Service Award, APAP’s highest honor, is presented annually to an individual whose outstanding service, creative thinking and leadership have had a significant impact on the profession of presenting and/or on the Association of Arts Presenters. This award honors Fan Taylor, Arts Presenters’ first executive director, for her many contributions to the field of presenting.
Last year’s winner, Alberta Arthurs, introduced the 2016 honoree, whose identity remains a secret until the awards luncheon, as a colleague who “has been in the field for more than 30 years, though not in a usual way. Known to us all, touching us all, this colleague commands no specific stage or schedule, but sweeps amongst us, stimulating ideas, stirring things up, casting the critical thoughts and ideas that help make the field significant.” Arthurs went on to describe the honoree as “fierce in convictions, ‘like a tiger,’ said one informant, ‘like a terrier,’ said another, our colleague is outspoken in the fights for racial and cultural equity, for the roles of community and creativity in lifting lives and lifting values.”
Going on to describe the honoree’s leadership, “The organization led by this singular person provides ‘a web of relationships’ and ‘a bubbling culture of cultures,’ as one seasoned observer describes it. The organization supports artists’ work and access to it, defends artistic expression and experimentation, and asserts that ‘change must come from within the arts.’ That’s a quote from our singular person. An expert evaluator has written, ‘Over its 25-year history, this organization has supported the creation and touring of socially grounded performance, played a catalytic role in developing careers of hundreds of diverse artists, and fostered deeper engagement between artists and communities.’ A second evaluator wrote that its leader is exemplary, ‘a national asset.’”
Arthurs continued, “As often as this colleague is described as fierce, this colleague is also described as quiet, even shy; a good listener, a good learner, absorbing what other people say and observing what they do; outspoken and plain spoken, but also soft-spoken; fierce, but not noisy; a renowned fighter for the good and a well-known party giver; a deep commitment to national and international action and deep, deep dedication to home and dogs; a profound appreciation of makers: makers of art, of ideas, makers of change and makers of good meals and very good martinis.” And then before presenting her, Arthurs said, “Thank you for saluting NPN’s warm and wonderful, deeply ethical, engagingly honest, always inspiring, absolutely unique, MK Wegmann.”
An astonished MK addressed those gathered, “I am so surprised and honored and appreciative. As many of you know, I am stepping down, retiring from this position, looking forward to the opportunity, as I’ve said, to many, to become a colleague again. There are so many people to thank. I want to especially acknowledge Lisa Mount, my partner in life, but Mario Garcia-Durham, the Association of Performing Arts Presenters, so many colleagues in the field, David White, who was the founder of the National Performance Network, my colleagues at NPN, Steve Bailey, Stanlyn Brevé…. I could go on and on and I don’t want to take any more time. Thank you so much for this honor. It means a great deal to me and I am totally surprised.”
Arts Presenters has posted on YouTube a video of the awards ceremony. Here’s a link to “clip 3” and the presentation of the award to MK begins at 22:25.
Unintended Connections presented the work of thirteen artists in an exhibition that spanned two venues and many modes of presentation. Yvonne Buchanan (VAN Exhibition Residency, Real Art Ways, Hartford, CT, 2015) and Gregory Michael Hernandez (VAN Exhibition Residency at MACLA/Movimiento de Arte y Cultura Latino Americana, San José, CA, 2012) presented new work reflective of their interests in excavating, exposing and altering complicated community histories through installation. Their work investigates the politicized body, place and presence. While both artists were trained as painters they push at the limitations of materials and genres by expanding into the more ephemeral practices of video and installation. Takahiro Yamamoto (Portland) presented a series of photographs as a way to ask the questions, “Who is being seen?” or “What is the tipping point between individual and community?” Similarly, the Portland-based artists in the exhibition, Michael Reinsch, Sharita Towne, Ashby Lee Collinson and FLOCK members Tahni Holt, Allie Hankins, Eliza Larson, Lucy Yim, Tracy Broyles and Danielle Ross, work in-between performance, social practice, comedy, photography, dance, video, installation, collaborative and individualistic practices. For Unintended Connections these artists presented a series of performative actions at the exhibition’s opening. These artists choose to present ideas as material, moving bodies as visual art, experience as social sculpture.
The work presented in Unintended Connections was created independently by the participating artists and illustrates the vibrant state of contemporary art. The work was diverse and varied and never specifically intended to be presented together. But, serendipity brought this work together and connections were inevitably drawn between the work by the viewer and the artists, creating a community of ideas that could never exist in isolation.
This varied and shape-shifting exhibition was emulative of the Visual Artists Network (VAN)’s own form and mission, one that is responsive not only to artists needs but to the evolving conversation around the intersections of Visual and Performing Art and our dedication to connecting artists to diverse communities in meaningful and potentially transformative ways.
VAN is a national network of visual artists, curators, and exhibitors providing opportunities and subsidy support for under-recognized visual artists, nurtures the creation of experimental artwork and supports the touring of contemporary visual artists and their work. Patterned after the National Performance Network’s model performing arts program, VAN was launched in 2007 as a pilot, and in 2009 the program was formally established through the induction of the VAN Partners, fifteen leading contemporary arts organizations from across the United States.
Unintended Connections, was organized by the Visual Artists Network, with the support of NPN/VAN 2015 Annual Meeting host, Portland Institute for Contemporary Art (NPN/VAN Partner Organization); Venue host Disjecta Contemporary Art Center; Exhibition Preparator and VAN Site Coordinator, Spencer Byrnes-Seres and NPN/VAN intern W. Orchid Robinson.
The NPN/VAN Annual Meeting Exhibition is made possible, in part, with generous support from Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, Ford Foundation, The Ford Family Foundation, Japan Foundation Center for Global Partnership, Japan-U.S. Friendship Commission, Miami Dade County Department of Cultural Affairs, Joan Mitchell Foundation, Lambent Foundation Fund of Tides Foundation, Louisiana Division of the Arts, Nathan Cummings Foundation, National Endowment for the Arts, Oregon Arts Commission, Quixote Foundation, Southwest Airlines, Official Airline of the National Performance Network, WESTAF
“Callings” addresses climate change metaphorically and visually by invoking archetypes from the sea. A captain’s ghost and an ancient siren seduce and liberate the sailors of commerce, awakening them into the recognition that the sea is a living being. Carpetbag Brigade’s highly physical state-of-the-art acrobatic stilt-walking performance transcends language through intense physical expression. Mixing the genres of butoh, contact improvisation and physical theater, it operates as a wonderful vehicle to cross cultures and create connections with audiences from a different language, country and culture.
Teatro Taller de Colombia, the country’s oldest and most prominent street theater company, through their work of the last 40 plus years, laid the foundation for a rich stilt-walking and street theater environment throughout the country. After the invitation and support from NPN to come to Manizales was confirmed, Teatro Taller de Colombia helped to organize and support presentations of “Callings” at their Al Aire Puro Street Theater Festival in Bogota as well as organize presentations in Medellin through Tenarco (Teatro Nacional Artistico Colombia) and in Santa Marta through Festival Internacional de Caribe.
The field of interaction and support opened up by Teatro Taller de Colombia enabled Carpetbag Brigade to also spend a week in Bogota teaching and sharing their acrostilt vocabulary. A young street theater company, Gota del Mercurio (Drop of Mercury) took master classes from Carpetbag Brigade and were inspired to plan a visit in the future to participate in Carpetbag Brigade’s Global Stilt Congress event in Arizona, which brings together acrostilt practitioners from around the world to exchange techniques and deepen their craft.
Carpetbag Brigade received a FY16 PAP Creative Exchange subsidy.
Funding for the Performing Americas Program is provided by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, the Robert Sterling Clark Foundation and, for Miami Dade County artists and arts organizations, the Miami Dade County Department of Cultural Affairs.
With the second year of support from the Quixote Foundation, representatives from NPN/VAN’s Local Network attended the NPN/VAN Annual Meeting in Portland. Cameron Shaw, executive director of Pelican Bomb, reflects on her first time participating.
This was my first time attending an NPN/VAN Annual Meeting. It was hands down the most diverse gathering of practitioners and presenters in the arts that I have witnessed. This diversity reflects the incredible and intentional community-building work NPN/VAN has done in the field over the years. The respect that conference-goers had for this work, NPN/VAN staff, and each other was palpable. As a direct result, the planned sessions, as well as my spontaneous conversations with colleagues, were marked by tremendous depth, sensitivity, and openness. I found folks felt comfortable sharing the successes of their projects alongside their stumbling blocks. Within this spirit of creative and collective problem solving, I connected with a number of people whose perspectives and questions have already influenced my work in the month since and will no doubt continue into the future. I look forward to next year!
Theater director and playwright Samuel Valdez, who is a director of NPN/VAN’s board, is being honored by the City of San Diego’s Human Relations Commission as the 2015 recipient of the Ashley L. Walker Social Justice Leadership award at their annual MLK All People’s celebration. In notifying Samuel of this award, the Commission said it “is inspired by your work in the arts through theater, your plays that call us to address human rights and dignity concerns, your work in understanding human trafficking, and your lifetime of service through your professional positions and community involvement. We would like to honor you and your lifetime of work with this award.”
Congratulations Samuel! We are proud that the talents we have seen in you are being publicly recognized in your own community.
Read the entire letter, attached here.
Artspace is posting two new positions in our National Advancement department, an Annual Fund Director and an Advancement Associate.
With the Annual Fund Director, we are looking for a mid-career person who can help lead efforts that expand our base of annual/organizational support from partners across the country, with a particular focus on individual giving in the Twin Cities, New York, Denver and Seattle. The Advancement Associate job is a more junior position, but one with genuine growth potential.
We need people who would be Twins Cities-based, but we are hoping, especially with the Annual Fund Director, to attract candidates from other communities as we have with other recent hires.
Download PDF documents with full descriptions of the positions. Apply by January 15, 2016.
The Institute is an annual initiative of Jean Appolon Expressions (JAE), a Haitian contemporary dance organization based in Boston: www.jeanappolonexpressions.org. The purpose of the Institute is to preserve and advance Haitian folkloric dance and to provide access to high quality and comprehensive intensive dance education to Haitian youth without financial resources. The company’s director, Jean Appolon was born, raised and trained as a dancer in Haiti, but is now based in Boston. However, he has made a commitment to return to Haiti annually to give back to youth the tangible and intangible gifts of dance and cultural heritage.
The 2015 Institute began on June 27 with an open audition that was attended by 110 Haitian young people. Sixty students were selected to participate in the four-week program that included yoga, modern dance, Haitian folkloric dance, the creation and rehearsal of choreography, and a free lunch program. National Performance Network support, through the Performing Americas Program, made it possible for JAE Company dancer Eboni Baptiste to travel to Haiti to participate as a guest faculty member in the Institute. The Institute concluded with a final performance that honored Professor Bayyinah Bello (University of Haiti) and Professor Michel DeGraff (MIT). The students performed six original choreographies by Jean Appolon for an audience of approximately 300 people that included their family members and friends, as well as Haitian and foreign dignitaries.
The 2015 Institute was characterized by an extremely positive esprit de corps on the part of the participating students as well as the staff. Each day, students were focused and on time, some traveling 4+ hours round trip to participate. The Institute exemplified JAE’s philosophy of ”by working together we can achieve something great.” The final performance was indeed a great achievement as was the distribution of 58 certificates that documented the students’ successful completion of the intensive dance course. The Institute’s impact was felt at many levels, including the students’ artistic and technical accomplishments; the students’ social and personal growth; and the civic and cultural pride that comes with teaching and showcasing Haitian folkloric dance, music and culture as a valued resource.
The Performing Americas Program is a partnership of the National Performance Network and La RED (Red de Promotores Culturales de Latinoamerica y el Caribe). Since 2007, the Creative Exchange has supported more than 40 artists and artist companies for two-to five-week residencies with hosts abroad, focusing on exchanges between the U.S. and Latin America and the Caribbean.
The Performing Americas Program receives generous support from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and the Robert Sterling Clark Foundation.