These relationships are the threads from which the patterns of the Weaving the Web project were spun.
...combining art, education and activism...
Rather than creating something new, Weaving the Web sought to create a
new context for leveraging existing community assets and efforts on
behalf of the collaborators. The request that was submitted to the
National Endowment for the Arts in September 2001 sought to create new
synergies between these New Orleans organizations:
An African American theater company that produces
and presents theater, dance, music and storytelling. The organization's
goal is to represent, support and encourage African Americans to improve
the quality of life available to themselves and other oppressed people.
The Artistic Director is John O'Neal, a national touring theater artist
for more than 30 years. From 1994 to 1998, the organization sponsored
the Environmental Justice Project that brought together New Orleans
artists with social justice groups. Many of the Weaving the Web ideas
and relationships were built upon the work of this project.
DOG & PONY THEATRE
A theatre company that is committed to the creation
and presentation of theatre and video projects with support for music,
dance and the visual arts. Their various programs, workshops and classes
reflect a dynamic vision of the community's creative human potential.
The contact people from Dog & Pony were Karl Lengel and John Grimsley.
ASHE CULTURAL ARTS CENTER
Ashe Cultural Arts Center is an effort to combine the intentions of community
development, economic development with the awesome creative forces of
community, culture and art to revive and reclaim a historically
significant corridor of New Orleans' Central City community. Ashe is a
gathering place for emerging and established artists to present, create
and collaborate in giving life to their art. The primary contact was
CONTEMPORARY ARTS CENTER
A multi-disciplinary arts center,
financially stable and professionally managed, which is dedicated to the
presentation, production and promotion of the art of our time. It
accomplishes these goals by organizing curated exhibitions, performances
and programs; enlarging audiences; and encouraging collaboration among
diverse artists, institutions, communities and supporters. Contact
people included Jay Weigel, Larisa Gray and Marie Lamb.
NATIONAL PERFORMANCE NETWORK
An alliance of performing arts
organizations in 40 communities across the U.S. headquartered in New
Orleans. The National Performance Network subsidizes three types of
artistic activities: 1 and 2-week residencies by touring performing
artists; co-commissioning of new touring works in dance, theater and
music; and grassroots cultural projects that engage touring artists as
teachers, creative collaborators and problem-solvers in the communities
they travel to. As part of its activities, the National Performance
Network also develops local pilot projects in New Orleans that can be
adapted by member organizations in other communities.
As stated, the original intentions of the project were simple: "A group
of cultural organizations will create, implement and evaluate a plan to
collaboratively mobilize their shared constituencies with local civil
rights groups. Project activities will provide cultural opportunities
for underserved residents. Lessons and techniques learned from the
project will be published on the NPN Website."
As implemented, the project's intentions were considerably more
complicated, more difficult and more ambitious.
It is important to understand that the participating groups not only had
their own histories of combining art, education and activism; they had
extensive histories of collaboration, exchange and dialogue between
Junebug and Dog & Pony are both long-time members of the National
The Chief Executive Officer of National Performance Network is former
Managing Director of Junebug
Ashe Cultural Arts Center is a frequent host of and collaborator in Junebug
Both Junebug and Dog & Pony are currently in residence at the
Contemporary Arts Center
Junebug and Ashe are part of Community Labor United, a city-wide coalition
of groups engaged in a long-term discussion about the role of art, culture, and
These relationships, along with others described throughout the report, are the threads
from which the patterns of the "Weaving the Web" project were spun.