Our
Network


NPN is a network rather than just an association or service organization. By cultivating long-term relationships and promoting cultural equity, we seek to build a collaborative, non-hierarchical ecosystem based on racial and cultural justice.

NPN’s network includes more than 70 national Partners in 31 states and 47 communities; dozens of co-commissioning presenters across the U.S.; more than 30 fiscally-sponsored artist projects in New Orleans and beyond; and thousands of artists who have received NPN support.

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Fiscally Sponsored

12 by Lisa Shattuck and Jeff Becker

New Orleans, LA    Google map
Contacts:
Lisa Shattuck, Artist, lfshattuck@yahoo.com
Jeff Becker, Artist
 

12 is an interactive performance that takes a critical look at how imposed systems of measurement support racism, misogyny, and white supremacy. Using 6-ft clear inflatable balls, with performers and selected audience inside, 12 depicts how the enormous cost of white privilege marginalizes communities.

Fiscally Sponsored

912 Julia

912 Julia Street, New Orleans, LA 70113   Google map
Contacts:
Stephanie Pearl Travers, Project Director, stephanie.pearl.travers@gmail.com
 

912 Julia is a nonprofit arts initiative established to support emerging New Orleans artists. Located in the heart of the city’s Arts District, we are creating a sustainable resource and platform for voices often marginalized due to lack of resources, connections, or experience traditionally necessary for advancing an art career. We seek to provide a supportive and collaborative space for artists to create freely and engage the broader artistic community in New Orleans.

Fiscally Sponsored

A&A ColLABoration

Seattle, WA    Google map
Contacts:
June Wilson, Philanthropic Advisor & Strategist, june@centralinsights.com
 

Sponsored by the CrossCurrents and Compton Foundations, the Arts and Activism (A&A) ColLABoration supports six projects between artists and activist organizations. Each project uses arts-integrated organizing to build power within their respective communities. Through storytelling and community engagement they produce narratives that elevate themes of democracy, power, and freedom in the United States. While the projects vary in model, practice, and development, they share similar goals: to achieve impact and to deepen engagement on salient issues by centering the voices of those who are most affected by them.

A&A ColLABoration intentionally selected projects at different stages of development to showcase what successful collaborations between artists and activists. As part of a national learning cohort, the projects contribute to a network where methods and strategies are discussed, documented, and shared.

The projects are:

The League is one of two startups supported by A&A ColLABoration. The League offers media/marketing strategies to musicians and media producers who want to elevate social issues on their platforms. Formed by a collective of creatives, analysts, and campaigners, The League experiments with cultural engagement strategies to reach new audiences through social media and curated events.

Similarly, the School of Good Citizenship is a new venture launched by the artists duo LigaronoReese. Inspired by the success of their previous public art installations Melted Away, the artists will mount four simultaneous public art projects in Charlotte, North Carolina in the week leading up to the Republican Convention. These installations will anchor workshops around democracy that blend creativity and art with civic dialogue.

Skylight Engagement will launch its first convening of filmmakers and activists in the United States, based on successful models of their work in Central and South America. The Borderlands Solidari Labs will gather a new network of artists and activists to examine immigration in the United States along the Southwest border. The group will collaboratively prototype media projects that tell nuanced stories about immigration challenging the prevailing dominant and demeaning narratives.

The Midwest Cultural Lab will deepen its model for connecting artists and activists in Ohio. Using social media platforms, artists in the network will create content that mobilize young voters of color around local and state level issues.

National Domestic Workers Alliance (NDWA) will expand its media marketing campaign for its Families Belong Together: Coloring Without Borders children’s coloring book and accompanying curriculum. The coloring book is a result of NDWA’s partnership with numerous artists who donated their work for the pages of the book. The coloring book distribution will be done in two parts: first, to migrant children at the border to help them process their experiences. Second, to families in the U.S. whose purchases are an act of solidarity and support for NDWA’s work at the border.

Led by their Artist in Residence, Forward Together partners with artists of color and allied organizations to strengthen the effectiveness of movements and campaigns through the use of visual imagery. With A&A ColLABoration funding, Forward Together will expand the Art As Power program, with a specific focus on the fifth annual Transgender Day of Resilience as well as mobilizing artists in rapid response campaigns.

Fiscally Sponsored

AfricaNOLA

New Orleans, LA    Google map
Contacts:
Jeff Klein, Project Director, Africanola1@gmail.com
 

AfricaNOLA is an artist-run organization that serves to promote, preserve, perpetuate, encourage and share West African culture in New Orleans. Our mission is realized through the teaching and performance of traditional West African music, American jazz, and New Orleans brass band music.

AfricaNOLA believes it is essential that New Orleans’ youth are knowledgeable about the origins of the local music culture. Our education program has provided music training as well as mentorship for Louisiana youth aged 8-18. Instilling a cultural understanding of the roots of New Orleans music, young musicians can better create their own modes of expression and contribute to the ever-evolving artistic fabric of the world. Using that knowledge as a creative outlet and becoming financially independent using their shared heritage as a source of income will help our youth form a stronger sense of self and a commitment to community preservation. AfricaNola has expanded our scope, and now includes the Caribbean and West Africa in our cultural exchange program, and have reached out to Asia as well.

Fiscally Sponsored

Artist Corps New Orleans

2533 Columbus Street, New Orleans, LA 70119   Google map
Contacts:
Sonya Robinson, Managing Director
 

Artist Corps CONNECTS New Orleans music education initiatives with local and national resources to build strong music programs with:

  • EMPOWERED Educators
  • EMBEDDED Artists and Culture Bearers
  • EQUIPPED School Leaders
  • ENGAGED Communities
  • EXCELLENT Opportunities for Young People

 
Artist Corps:

AFFIRMS that music is young people’s birthright, innovation is New Orleans’ legacy, and investing in the next generation is our shared responsibility.

COMMITS to establishing pathways to excellent, comprehensive, sequential music education for every young person in New Orleans.

HONORS New Orleans educators, artists, and culture bearers – valuing their expertise and amplifying their voices in developing strategy for advancing music education.

CELEBRATES the many dedicated schools, programs, cultural organizations, families, funders, resource providers and supporters that provide music education in New Orleans – and strives to coordinate efforts and focus resources to increase collaborative impact.

CENTERS equity and justice in our work, cultivating systemic opportunity that enables young people to engage in their cultural legacy and grow as musicians and as individuals.

MODELS a reflective practice that respects tradition, integrates diverse perspectives, fosters growth and embraces change.

Fiscally Sponsored

Astralis Duo

New Orleans, LA    Google map
Contacts:
Katalin Lukács, Project Director
Lisa Hooper, Project Director
 

Rising Water is working to amplify the voices of regional communities threatened by rising sea levels through artistic expressions. Local artists have been commissioned to work with threatened communities to create new performance art reflective of the traditions, values, and beliefs that will be lost as rising seas swallow these communities. Through public performances of these works, Rising Water will creatively inform, challenge, and inspire the broader community to take positive action against sea level rise and climate change.

Your support helps us:

  • Equitably pay our participating composers, poets, video artists, and performers
  • Partner with local schools to hold student poetry contests (winner’s work will be set to
    music by a Rising Water composer)
  • Rent community-accessible rehearsal and performance space
  • Provide ticket-free performances

 

If today is your day to give, then please use the donation button on this page. Thank you!

Fiscally Sponsored

Crescent City Creative Carnival

New Orleans, LA    Google map
Contacts:
Quan Lateef-Hill, Co-Founder, quan@thequan.com
Willard Hill, Co-Founder
 

The Crescent City Creative Carnival (C4) is a gathering of artists and creatives in one of the most celebrated culture capitals of the world, New Orleans, Louisiana. C4 was designed for and brings together: musicians, visual artists, graphic designers, fashion designers, creative directors, marketing executives, content producers, and more. C4 was started by creatives in need of a way to turn grind into growth, provide access to New Orleans’ creative industry, and create space for professionals and emerging artists to showcase their talents, learn something new, share best practices, and leave inspired.

Fiscally Sponsored

Dawn DeDeaux’s Projects

New Orleans, LA    Google map
Contacts:
Dawn DeDeaux, Artist, dawndedeaux1@aol.com
 

DeDeaux has merged art with new technologies for decades to broaden art and audience engagement. Early works from the 1970s such as CB Radio Booths were works of mobility that travelled the communication systems and streets of underserved communities. Mid-career works were large-scale installations and pioneering immersive, synchronized media environments including Soul Shadows, Women Eating, and The Face of God that premiered at the 1996 Olympics. Latter works, including Project Mutants, The Goddess Fortuna and The MotherShip Series, are inspired by environmental challenges.

Works by DeDeaux have been exhibited nationwide including Whitney Museum of American Art, Armand Hammer Museum, Aldrich Museum of Contemporary Art of Connecticut, The Contemporary / Baltimore, Canadian Film Society of Toronto, and Ballroom Marfa, Marfa TX. Recent exhibitions include her acclaimed Prospect.2 20,000 square foot multimedia installation The Goddess Fortuna and Her Dunces, and the touring MotherShip Series that adapts the theory that mankind has 100 years left – not to save Earth but to leave. Current exhibitions include a solo exhibition I’ve Seen the Future and It Was Yesterday at Arthur Roger Gallery / New Orleans, her exhibition at MASSMoCA Thumbs Up for the MotherShip, and her participation in the international exhibition Alrededoreson on Chile’s Island of Chiloe in 2018.

DeDeaux is a 1997 Rome Prize recipient as Knight Foundation Visiting Southern Artist at the American Academy in Rome and selected among the eight most important southern U.S. artists by the 1996 Olympics. She is a 2013 Robert Rauschenberg Foundation Artist in Residence, the 2014 Prospect New Orleans Triennial Alumni of the Year, and the 2015 Artist in Residence at Tulane University’s Center for Bioenvironmental Research.

DeDeaux’s work is the in-depth subject of the concluding chapter of Discipline and Photograph, a book by art theorist James Huginin of Chicago Art Institute and, Five Video Artists by Larry Qualls, Associate Editor for Performing Arts Journal, MIT Press. Her work has been reviewed in numerous publications including New York Times, Art in America, USA Today and ArtForum, and the focus of televised features including CBS Sunday Morning and Canada Public Broadcasting’s series The Future.

DeDeaux is also a writer, publisher and founding editor of Arts Quarterly. She is among the eight founders of the Contemporary Arts Center in New Orleans and served on its Board throughout its formative years. She produced and hosted Louisiana’s first radio program on the arts, Art Now, for National Public Radio affiliate WWNO. As an educator DeDeaux established and directed a comprehensive arts program for a 6,000 inmate facility in Orleans Parish, Louisiana and has been Visiting Artist at a number of institutions including Maryland Institute College of Art, and the Texas A&M Visualization Laboratory within the College of Architecture.

DeDeaux is the winner of the 1976 Demolition Derby in the Louisiana Superdome as the only female contestant in a field of 35 drivers.

Fiscally Sponsored

Deltaworkers

700 Caffin Ave, New Orleans, LA 70117   Google map

Deltaworkers is a nomadic artistic production and residence program that investigates the southern states of the U.S. as one of the last mythical places in the West. We host and present European artists from different disciplines in New Orleans, a city that forms the perfect gateway to the south; a region where many of the historical, socio-political and cultural roots of U.S culture can be found.

Fiscally Sponsored

In Good Company Theatre

New Orleans, LA    Google map
 
Contacts:
Rebecca Frank, Founder and Co-Project Director
 

A classically based New Orleans theatre collective focused on creating work that fosters collaboration with local artists from other mediums such as media arts, visual art, music and installation art. In Good Company is also passionate about presenting work that supports the voices of strong female playwrights, performers and artists.

Fiscally Sponsored

Jaime Fennelly’s Mind Over Mirrors

Chicago, IL    Google map
Contacts:
Jaime Fennelly, Artist
 

Mind Over Mirrors is the ever-evolving project of composer, harmoniumist, and synthesist Jaime Fennelly, who buttresses his modest instrumental foundation of Indian pedal harmonium with an array of tape delays, effect processors, and synthesizers that belong to the world of classic analog electronic composition. Both as a solo artist and with various collaborators, he creates immersive interdisciplinary work that NPR has described as “an out-of-body experience.” His explorations of the natural world’s sensory dimensions and the dialogues between cultural traditions—vernacular and avant-garde—have led him down a path of creating work that deliberately situates itself in a questing, edge-of-earth spirit. After five solo albums on several labels, Paradise of Bachelors released Fennelly’s first work for an ensemble, Undying Color (2017), followed by Bellowing Sun (2018), which was commissioned for its world premiere live performance by the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago. Pitchfork called Bellowing Sun, “one of the decade’s true experimental wonders.” Bellowing Sun received funding from the NPN Creation & Forth Fund.

Fiscally Sponsored

Jalisa Roberts + The Cocoon

New Orleans, LA    Google map
Contacts:
Jalisa Roberts, Artist
 

The Cocoon creates and facilitates safe spaces for individuals to explore their artistry. At the core of The Cocoon’s mission is the firm belief that everyone is an artist, and that the only limitations placed on us are the ones we create in our minds. The Cocoon seeks to break down these limitations, and make art accessible to all.

Jalisa Roberts is a writer, educator, Black Studies scholar, singer, and choreographer. With more than 20 years of dance experience locally and internationally, she has most recently trained in modern and African forms of dance at Swarthmore College, and explores how all of these different artistic interests live in one body and influence each other.

Her choreography sparks conversations on identity and memory. Much of Jalisa’s work explores how individuals relate to and influence groups, and how our narratives on similar events can differ greatly based on our individual experiences.

Fiscally Sponsored

K Denesse Productions

New Orleans, LA    Google map
Contacts:
Kimberly Denesse, Artist
 

Fiscally Sponsored

Last Call

New Orleans, LA    Google map
Contacts:
indee mitchell, Co-Director
Bonnie Gabel, Co-Director
 

Last Call is a multiracial collective of queer artists, activists, and archivists. Drawn together by the closing of the last remaining dyke bar, Last Call creates innovative, multi-platform performances, events, and digital media that document and interpret neglected queer history, creating connections between those who lived this history and those who have much at stake if it is forgotten. We conjure up intergenerational gathering places where the movement for queer liberation is carried forward.

There are four interwoven components to Last Call: (1) a digital archive of full-length interviews; (2) a podcast series to cull these interviews into curated stories; (3) live performance that honors these stories; and (4) community events that bring together queer people across lines of race, class, gender-identity and generational difference. Last Call was founded by Rachel Lee, Sara Pic and Bonnie Gabel.

Fiscally Sponsored

Life Celebration Project

New Orleans, LA    Google map
Contacts:
Yohan Giaume, Artist
 
Fiscally Sponsored

Mardi Gras Indian Hall of Fame

New Orleans, LA    Google map
Contacts:
Cherice Harrison-Nelson, Co-Founder & Executive Director, queenreesie@aol.com
 

The Mardi Gras Indian Hall of Fame is committed to supporting and maintaining New Orleans grassroots indigenous cultural expressions, particularly the Mardi Gras Indian tradition which has been carried on exclusively in the African American neighborhoods of New Orleans since the 1880s. The Mardi Gras Indian Hall of Fame works year-round to create community among those who mask; honor the individuals and group who create and uphold the masking traditions; and educate the public.

Dr. Roslyn J. Smith and Cherice Harrison-Nelson co-founded the Mardi Gras Indian Hall of Fame in 1998 through the spirit of Big Chief Donald Harrison Senior (1933-1998), founder of the Guardians of the Flame and a past Big Chief of the White Eagles.

Fiscally Sponsored

Music Inside Out with Gwen Thompkins

New Orleans, LA    Google map
Contacts:
Gwen Thompkins, Executive Director, gthompkins@me.com
 

Music Inside Out with Gwen Thompkins is a weekly public radio broadcast that showcases musicians who have made profound contributions to the musical landscape of Louisiana and the wider world. Host Gwen Thompkins and her guests talk extensively about the fire and sweat of the creative process and parse songs that reflect Louisiana’s unusually varied cultural heritage. Each week, Music Inside Out explores unexpected layers of curiosity and inventiveness in the work of modern-day musicians. Just as Louis Armstrong loved Mascagni’s Cavalleria Rusticana, and played an aria from that opera every day, contemporary Louisiana artists live with their ears wide open. Music Inside Out airs on WWNO 89.9 FM- New Orleans Thursday evenings at 7:00 p.m. and Saturdays at noon. In addition, web users can access any program at musicinsideout.org.

Fiscally Sponsored

New Orleans Accordion Festival

New Orleans, LA    Google map
Contacts:
Michael Ward-Bergeman, Steering Committee Member
Stephanie Reed, Steering Committee Member
 

Our mission is to foster and grow the New Orleans accordion community through performances and educational programs, and to celebrate the diverse cultural styles of the instrument within the city and beyond with a festival. The New Orleans Accordion Festival showcases the work of local and regional accordionists of diverse musical styles.

Steering Committee Members:

  • Michael Ward-Bergeman
  • Stephanie Reed
  • Greg Speck
  • David Symons
Fiscally Sponsored

New Orleans Community Printshop & Darkroom

2801 Franklin Ave, New Orleans, LA 70122   Google map
Contacts:
Savannah Levin, Collective Member
Anthony Oscar, Collective Member
 

The New Orleans Community Print Shop & Darkroom (NOCPD) is an artist collective that provides the New Orleans community with public access to affordable printmaking and art making equipment, training, and services. It aims to increase awareness, appreciation, and exposure of print media and contemporary printmaking. NOCPD strives to help independent artists build bodies of work and entrepreneurs grow their business through screen- printing. Additionally, it provides youth and adult classes with limited access to arts education and activity. NOCPD seeks to create a supportive print community for volunteers and collective members to grow their artistic practice during non-public Print Shop/Darkroom hours.

Fiscally Sponsored

New Orleans International Muralists’ The Tchoupitoulas St. Floodwall Project

P.O. Box 850961, New Orleans, LA 70185   Google map
Contacts:
Daniel ‘DeeJay‘ Pate, Co-Founder
Jamar Pierre, Co-Founder
 

New Orleans International Muralists, LLC (NOIM) create murals that provide artistic looks into the past, present, or future within communities. Our murals are educational tools for the community, as points of interest(s) for tourism, or simply appreciated for their aesthetic beauty. NOIM’s current project is Tchoupitoulas St. Floodwall Mural: 300 Years of New Orleans History depicting the city’s vibrant 300-year history through imagery created by lead artist Jamar Pierre. Our murals are created to enable the community to gain a better understanding of why cultural preservation is important.

Fiscally Sponsored

nienteForte

New Orleans, LA    Google map
https://nienteforte.com   
     
Contacts:
Maxwell Dulaney, Co-Director
Mendel Lee, Co-Director
 

nienteForte Contemporary Music is a concert series that features contemporary music performers and composers from across the globe that provide concert performances and master classes/workshops for the Tulane University, University of New Orleans, and greater New Orleans community. nienteForte is built upon the belief that contemporary music of all shapes and sizes has the ability to resonate with a diverse populace and that any gap between contemporary art and its audience can be bridged with an open and inviting conversation on both sides. The hope is that nienteForte performers, composers, and audience members can walk away from our programs as a singular entity that believes contemporary music and art is something that belongs to all of us collectively and is therefore deserving of our acceptance, respect, and love.

Fiscally Sponsored

No Dream Deferred NOLA

New Orleans, LA    Google map
Contacts:
India Mack, Co-Director
Lauren E. Turner, Co-Director
 

Launched in 2016, No Dream Deferred started as a vision for equitable and inclusive theatre in New Orleans. As a community-anchored theatre that prioritizes New Orleans’ community audience, we produce culturally relevant work written by playwrights that have been historically marginalized. Our values ensure that our productions are relevant, accessible, and affordable for all in our community.

Our vision is to employ a revolutionary approach to art making in our city for our communities and in doing so create theatre that is anchored to place. We, through our programming and advocacy, are building a future where art leaders of color are not the exception but the norm.​

  • We work to amplify the voice of historically marginalized playwrights.
  • We empower theatre-makers of color in the city of New Orleans and beyond.
  • Our approach to theatre-making is equitable in its visioning, design, and implementation.

OUR CORE VALUES

  • EQUITY | POWER
    Claiming and giving a rightful share of the artistic pie.
  • CULTURAL AUTHENTICITY | REALNESS
    We bring authenticity to the workspace, rehearsal room and table in a way that is essential, valued, and encouraged.
  • ​LEGACY | WEALTH
    Excellent stewards of what we have been given. Intentional about what we contribute. Generous with what we leave for future generations.
Fiscally Sponsored

Postcards From Over the Edge

New Orleans, LA    Google map
 
Contacts:
Karel Sloane-Boekbinder, Project Producer, karel.sloane@gmail.com
 

The focus of POSTCARDS FROM OVER THE EDGE is to raise awareness and engage the community in:

  1. the creation and production of a theatrical work that is a truthful-telling of the historically separate and unequal treatment experienced by the LBGTQ community and woman of color as it relates to the illegal sale of sex in Louisiana,
  2. the creation and distribution of postcard art works to organizations providing services such as shelters that serve women and children and other organizations that work with women who have been trafficked,
  3. the cultivation of allies and fostering of network building by connect those in the general public that want to be more involved with organizations actively working with the homeless, particularly homeless LBGTQ youth.
Fiscally Sponsored

Rebecca Mwase’s Cultural Projects: Vessels

New Orleans, LA    Google map
Contacts:
Rebecca Mwase, Artist
 

VESSELS is a seven-woman harmonic meditation on the transcendental possibilities of song during the Middle Passage. Experienced within an interactive and acoustically rich sculptural environment that invokes those infamous ships, this interdisciplinary ritual performance explores singing as a survival tool and asks, “What does freedom sound like in a space of confinement?”

VESSELS premiered at the Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts in March 2019 and will return to New Orleans in the fall of 2019 in partnership with Junebug Productions. In 2020, the piece will tour to east coast port cities that were active during the Transatlantic Slave Trade and beyond. VESSELS is a National Performance Network (NPN) Creation & Development Fund Project co-commissioned by Junebug Productions in partnership with Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts, and NPN.

Fiscally Sponsored

Red Magnolia Theatre Company

Baton Rouge, LA    Google map
Contacts:
Michele Johnson, President
Paula Shreve, Administrative Vice President
 

Red Magnolia Theatre Company provides an outlet for a creative, joyful, and bonding collaboration among women in the arts through their involvement in all aspects of theatre production, while serving the community with enriching and entertaining performances. In order to promote educational, and cultural well-being and awareness in the Greater Baton Rouge region, the purpose of Red Magnolia is to:

  • Renew audiences with portrayals of strong female characters and poignant stories of women to which everyone can connect.
  • Elevate women by offering them opportunities in all aspects of theatrical production, both on stage and off.
  • Develop new friendships and a deeper understanding of ourselves and our importance to society as women in the arts.
Fiscally Sponsored

Ron Ragin’s Cultural Projects: The Spiritual Technologies Project

New Orleans, LA    Google map
Contacts:
Ron Ragin, Collaborator
Tamara Roberts, Collaborator
 

The Spiritual Technologies Project seeks to generate, document, and transmit performative practices that unify and transform individuals and groups of people. The project will manifest through recordings, writing, and live laboratories in which artists, culture bearers, and other creative practitioners explore old and new tools for personal and collective transformation.

We just completed our first digital storytelling project, A Charge to Keep, which explores the contemporary practice of metered hymn singing in African-American churches in Central Georgia and Coastal Georgia and South Carolina. We are excited to share this work with the world!

Collaborators:

  • Ron Ragin
  • Tamara Roberts
  • Michaela Leslie-Rule
Fiscally Sponsored

Sally Heller’s Project Series

New Orleans, LA    Google map
Contacts:
Sally Heller, Artist, al502@cox.net
 

I build large, site-specific installations out of low-end consumer goods. These works often revolve around the theme of nature. They involve hands-on manipulation of such minutia as pipe cleaners, whiffle balls, plastic ware, buttons and string. I use old-fashioned crafts of knitting, knotting and twisting to thread these mass-market items to make more durable forms. The dichotomy between my traditional methods and the factory-produced materials creates tension that is both tangible and abstract. The structures may appear delicate and tenuous, but all materials are indestructible.

Fiscally Sponsored

Schola Cantorum of New Orleans

New Orleans, LA    Google map
http://scholanola.com   
     
Contacts:
Yulene Velásquez, Conductor
 

The Schola Cantorum of New Orleans was created in 2015 by Yulene Velásquez and was inspired by the Schola Cantorum de Venezuela. From the beginning the idea was to bring contemporary choral music to new audiences. Schola NOLA enjoys learning repertoire from different countries and working with different languages. We intend to fill a niche in our hometown New Orleans. We will help further enrich this deep, historically musical city by performing contemporary choral music from around the world and sharing it with diverse audiences in many communities throughout the city. Our mission is to embrace new and diverse music and share it with unique audiences.

Fiscally Sponsored

Unit Souzou’s Constant State of Otherness

Portland, OR    Google map
Contacts:
Michelle Fujii, Co-Director, mich@unitsouzou.com
Toru Watanabe, Co-Director
 

The Constant State of Otherness is a multi-layered performance project exploring the feelings of isolation and displacement that come from a sense of not fitting in. A devised “otherness template” will fuel a new taiko and dance performance, and also prompt engagement with artists and communities reflecting these complex and diverse stories of identity and emotional impact. The work is inspiring from co-director Michelle Fujii’s experience as a great-granddaughter and wife of Japanese immigrants, and feelings of isolation, alienation, and displacement that come from not having an easy sense of belonging, both as a physical place and an emotional space. These feelings are heightened during our uncertain political times — of deepening socio-economic disparities, ongoing debates of travel bans, border security, gentrification, and hostility towards immigrants.

Unit Souzou ensemble members will explore otherness in their deeply personal stories: identifying as immigrant, navigating privilege as a biracial person, finding space and place as a female leader in a masculine world, being African-American in a Japanese referenced cultural art form. Root questions to create this work will illuminate the following: How have I been othered? How have I othered myself? How have I othered others?

‘Souzou’ can be written in three ways meaning ‘creation’ (創造), ‘imagination’ (想像), or ‘noisy’ (騒々), alluding to a force by which new ideas are born and take shape in the world. Inspired by these words, the mission of Unit Souzou is to build creative, imaginative works while honoring the history and roots of the taiko art form. The core of Unit Souzou’s artistic voice is personal and authentic, sound shaped and inspired by form and by movement. The essence of Unit Souzou is an expressive blend of taiko and Japanese folk dance, forging new traditions for evolving communities. In addition to creating groundbreaking professional theatrical works, Unit Souzou is deeply committed to share taiko through community performances and collaborations, public classes for adults and youth, and school-based education programs.