On December 5, at the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco, the William + Flora Hewlett Foundation hosted a panel discussing High Performance: The State of the Art Sector in the Fast- Changing Bay Area moderated by Susan Medak with panelists Rafael Casal, Marcus Shelby and Nina Simon. The program would later highlight 10 new recipients for theater, musical theater and spoken word grants.
The recipients of the $150,000 grants were California Shakespeare Theater and Marcus Gardley; Center for Asian Asian Media and Brenda Wong Aoki; Destiny Arts Center and Marc Bamuthi Joseph; The Imaginists and Arpad Schilling; Kitka and Karmina Silec; Magic theatre and Taylor Mac; PolicyLink and Michael “A Scribe Called Quest?” Moore; Stanford Live and Weyni Mengesha; Teatro Vision and Salomon Santiago; Yerba Buena Center for the Arts and Rafael Casal.
One of the recipients of the grant is Oakland’s own Destiny Arts Center and world-renowned artist Marc Bamuthi Joseph.
“We are thrilled to be able to work with Marc Bamuthi Joseph. Many of us at Destiny who have been doing the work there have known Bamuthi’s work. He was on our Board of Directors more than 20 years ago. He’s now on our advisory council. There’s been this love affair that we have had across the Bay – Oakland to San Francisco, now that he’s at the Yuerba Bueno Center of the Arts. It’s a moment where two very established organizations – Youth Speaks (Bamuthi, is one of the founders) and Destiny Arts Center, doing good work with young people – revolutionary work with young people through the arts – the opportunity for two great sets of minds to enter a relationship to co-create a work. The show that Bamuthi’s mind, body and spirit came up with is called the Black Whole and it’s a combination of the whole…the literal hole and the entirety ( of a person). How do we return to wholeness when some beloved human in our world is violently taken away from us too soon? How do we become whole again? It’s a community ritual, it’s an honoring of the unnamed ancestors that died too young in our local community. It’s a way to memorialize them, and honor them,” said Sarah Crowell, Creative Director at Destiny Arts Center
The grant will support the art that will have a 2020 premiere at the Oakland Civic Center and the Odell Johnson Performing Arts Center at Laney College. The Black (W)hole will address Oakland youth homicide and urban gentrification, and become a resource to residents in Oakland, a city undergoing swift, dramatic transitions.
The panel discussed how the rising costs of real estate pushes artists to other cities like Los Angeles, Chicago, New York and Detroit to make art because it’s more affordable to live and rent space to create.
For more information about the discussion, visit the https://hewlett.org.