fbpx Mass Cultural Council’s Universal Participation (UP) Award (ASL-interpreted) | HowlRound Theatre Commons

Livestreamed on this page from Monday 1 June to Friday 5 June 2020 at 8 a.m. PDT (San Francisco, UTC-8) / 10 a.m. CDT (Chicago, UTC-5) / 11 a.m. EDT (Boston, UTC-4) / 4 p.m. BST (UTC+1).

Massachusetts
Monday 1 June to Friday 5 June 2020

Mass Cultural Council’s Universal Participation (UP) Award (ASL-interpreted)

Celebrating excellence in access and inclusion throughout the Commonwealth’s cultural sector

Produced With
Monday 1 June to Friday 5 June 2020

Mass Cultural Council presented the Universal Participation (UP) Award livestreamed on the global, commons-based, peer-produced HowlRound TV network at howlround.tv from Monday 1 June to Friday 5 June 2020 at 8 a.m. PDT (San Francisco, UTC-8) / 10 a.m. CDT (Chicago, UTC-5) / 11 a.m. EDT (Boston, UTC-4) / 4 p.m. BST (UTC+1).

Mass Cultural Council’s Universal Participation (UP) Award celebrates excellence in access and inclusion throughout the Commonwealth’s cultural sector. This year we are hosting a five-part, livestreamed event with HowlRound.

As part of this celebration, we will honor eight UP Designated Organizations (one will receive the 2020 UP Award and a $10,000 prize!), highlight musical performances by Massachusetts artists, and offer a daily universal design challenge to viewers to complete at home to brush up on their access knowledge.

This event will be captioned and interpreted in American Sign Language. If you have additional questions or access requests, please contact Angelina Lupini (angelina.lupini@art.state.ma.us).

Schedule

Monday 1 June
Honoring Open Door Arts, with musical performance by Precious Perez

 

Anita Walker: Good morning, I'm Anita walker, executive director of the Mass Cultural Council. I am a woman in her 60's, wearing glasses, I have about shoulder length hair and I'm wearing an ivory top. Welcome to the UP Awards, a virtual celebration of excellence in access. UP is an initiative of the Mass Cultural Council for Universal Participation in the arts, humanities, and interpretive sciences. There is so much work to be proud of and work that deserves recognition. But let's face it, this hardly seems like a time for celebration. With more than 100,000 people in our country killed by the Coronavirus, with millions who have no job and no idea how they're gonna make ends meet. And with, once again last night, searing pain, anger, and rage spilling into the public square as we watch yet another person of colored denied rights, denied justice, and denied life itself at the hands of an official in uniform. We're all wondering, how long must we wait? How long will it take for real change? It is important that we're here today, to celebrate the accomplishments of our colleagues who are striving every single day to be better, to be inclusive, who are really stepping up. We built UP as a way to excite our field around the intent of the Americans with Disabilities Act, which, turns 30 years old this year. To tap into our collective superpowers of creativity, innovation, and aspiration. We celebrate the anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act every five or ten years. However, it is not the act itself, but the movement it represents. A civil rights movement, a human rights movement that knows no singular victory but only 1,000 steps in the right direction. That's why we call our movement for inclusion, UP. UP is a direction, not a destination. When we launched this program, we saw the ADA not as the pinnacle, but the platform on which we advance our work. It's not about tolerating and accommodating. It's about bringing forward the voices of the unheard. And making change, persistent, relentless, urgent change. These past two months have been wrenching. We grieve for the sick and dying, we feel for the millions who have lost their jobs. And we're angry, because people in our own communities must live in fear because of the color of their skin or because they look different, still. There's no one victory. There's only one step after another, dogged persistence, because we can do better, we must do better, and we will do better. And we must use the incredible power of culture to accelerate and amplify real change for real inclusion. It's appropriate that we celebrate those who have shown leadership, innovation, and change in UP, not with one big singular celebration, but with a series of moments this week, each of the next five days, step-by-step. And it is right to mark these accomplishments. For just a little over an half an hour each of the next five days, we will stand together for the power of culture and the power of inclusion. We'll meet the organizations chosen by their peers, for their excellent work, providing access for all. We'll find out on Friday who gets the top honors. You know, the irony is not lost that at a time when all of us are denied access to our cultural treasures because they're closed due to COVID-19, here we are celebrating access. But, maybe this is the best time. Our field is facing recovery and rebuilding. And when we rebuild, we have the opportunity to redesign our programs and our spaces for inclusion. To leave behind once and for all the legacy of privilege, white privilege, that is the birthmark stamped on so many of our organizations, and to invite the unheard voices to speak and to design the change we seek. Over the next five days, we'll see what that looks like. What our future can look like if we just keep moving UP. It is my honor and pleasure to introduce now someone you all know, Charles has been leading the charge for UP for, what, five years now, Charles?

Charles Baldwin: Dos.

Anita: More than five? I can't keep track

Charles: Seven. I am delighted Anita, to have you welcome all potential listeners and viewers and to really have gotten this UP initiative going. I do think that this virtual celebration, while it can, or more like jewels, we have an opportunity to hear from a really expansive, diverse crowd of activists and artists who I have the wonderful opportunity to work alongside. Because the key part of UP is this idea of centering marginalized voices and amplifying them and responding to them. And that is always one of my real pleasures with this initiative, is to not only respond, but to really think of this work as aspirational. So we're very excited that we've now been able to move to this virtual platform, which is a whole other level of what access might mean. For those of you who are tuning in, you will note that we're going to try to have a nice, easy pace over the next five days. Many of us who are working are Zoom, Zoom, Zooming a lot, so we wanna slow things down. You'll also note that we have included ASL interpretation. We hope that our patrons and our colleagues and our artists who use ASL are participating. We also have included realtime captions. So that if you are in a place where you prefer to read, if this is a service that supports your getting the information, that is something that we're doing as well. And at the end of the day, we're going to have a little Universal Participation challenge. I have been talking to many teachers and many artists, this idea of how do we reach through the virtual screen. And it isn't easy. And so to access that third place we'll have the day, will end with a little bit of a challenge that we hope you will share with us so that we know we actually have gotten through this virtual screen. So, those are the goals of this week. Pace, communication, and somehow to reach through this screen to really connect with the artists, and the organizations, and the people that are part of this movement. Which is a movement to dismantle barriers. So I'm very happy that we've been able to reflect on the times as they are. And to even think about the times that might be. So, with that, I think let's jump in.

Anita: So Charles, and I do wanna say to everyone, Charles is an amazing, inspiring teacher. So much of what I've learned about inclusion, we're all learners, we're all learning together, again, there's no finished learning, it's all continuous learning, and, Charles, tell us what you're wearing, what you look like today?

Charles: Oh, yes! So I have asked each of us on this call over the next five days to describe ourselves. And naturally, I have already forgotten. So, my name is Charles Baldwin. I am the program officer for the Universal Participation Initiative. I am an older white gentleman with a beard and a mohawk, I'm wearing glasses and today I am wearing a blue sweater.

Anita: Thank you, Charles.

Charles: Thank you, Anita, that was good, that was good.

Anita: So, one of the wonderful things about our UP Awards is we actually turn to you, to our field, to think about those you've worked with in one of our learning networks that Charles has run. And talk about who you think as an exemplar, someone who's doing something that is inspiring that you'd like to aspire to do as well. And so each day we're gonna introduce you to one of these wonderful organizations that is working so hard to make our world a better place. And so, it is my honor to start the conversation around the person who has been, or the organization, rather, who's been nominated for our Community Asset Award. I have to tell you, by the way Charles, I spilled tea all over my notes this morning. And then my Zoom crashed and only started working one minute before we came on. But that's live television, isn't it?

Charles: That is live TV and this is a yes, and moment.

Anita: Absolutely. So, we would like, this is the Community Asset Award really recognizes the history of centering people with disabilities with inclusive, creative practices. And our recognition this year goes to Open Door Arts, which was established 40 years ago. And we have with us the Executive Director, Nicole Agois, I hope I said that right. Who's gonna tell us a little bit about Open Door Arts.

Charles: And Open Door has been a great partner since the beginning of UP. And I've worked closely with them on many different levels through the Learning Network, and I am delighted that Nicole is able to join us today. Thank you, Nicole.

Nicole Agois: Thank you, Charles and Anita. And in the spirit of best practices, I will start by describing myself. Hello, everyone. Again my name is Nicole Agois, Anita, you did pronounce that correctly, thank you. I am the managing director at Open Door Arts. I identify as a Latina woman in my late 30s, I have shoulder length brown hair and brown eyes and I am wearing a tan top today. So, again thank you so much, Anita, Charles, and the Mass Cultural Council for this wonderful honor and recognition of our work and our history in the field. Just as Anita said, as I prepared my remarks, I was struck by how timely receiving this Award is. For our team, for the organization, but also for the community at large. The last couple of months, and particularly the past week, have given us stark reminders of the deep inequities and systemic injustices affecting our communities. We continue to see how systems of oppression intersect with one another. We know that Disabled people of color have been disproportionately affected by the COVID pandemic. And we know that about half of the people that are killed by police, have a disability. So where do we go from here? Is the question that we find ourselves asking now. Disability activist Alice Wong says, "Liberation is conceived by our imagination, carried in our hearts, and birthed through our revolutionary madness." Her words resonate deeply with me, especially today, and highlight the critically important work of the arts. The arts allow us to imagine, to love, to think wildly outside the box. Art gives us a place to heal, a place for comfort, and our work has been just about that, about giving voice and a vision to alternative possibilities, alternative realities. They give us a common experience through which we can see each other and tools for sharing things that cannot be shared otherwise. And platforms to come together as a community in dialogue. In the words of Mia Mingus, "Access is a practice of love, and I would dare to say that art is also a practice of love." It's really hard to imagine that we've been doing this work for 40 years, so that's 10 years before the ADA was passed. We were born in the midst of the disability rights movement, and we find ourselves 40 years later fighting for the same rights. But also, having accomplished so much. Today, I want to share this Award with our dedicated team, our incredible staff, our teaching artists, our students, artists, partners, our generous funders and supporters, our Seven Hills Foundation family, our advisory board, and everyone who helps make this common vision a reality. We stand on the shoulders of our predecessors and of our community, especially grateful to Maida Abrams, our founder, and to Charlie Washburn, who continued in Maida's legacy and express our deep gratitude for their vision and commitment as we continue to collectively imagine and work towards a more fair, inclusive, and ultimately, a more beautiful world. Thank you.

Charles: Thank you, Nicole, thank you very much. I think it's important to remember, as we go through the UP Award, is that all of the organizations, it all started with peer nominations. So, it's really the initial vote, these are the organizations we look to, has come from your peers. And I think that's important to note. And thank you, very much.

Anita: Nicole, that was beautifully said. And I have to say that, looking at the slides on the screen, and the amazing artwork that has been produced by so many amazing artists in your organization and in your program, it is the art that inspires. And that's why we keep talking about the power of culture. It is more effective, more impactful, and touches more people in ways that we can't even describe, that makes your work so incredibly valuable and so incredibly important. So, thank you so much for for everything you've been doing for 40 years and for the next 40 years, I'm sure. And, Charles, we couldn't possibly be celebrating the power of culture and inclusion without having a little art in our program, right?

Nicole: Well, back when this was going to be a physical event, I did have a number of artists that I invited to participate. When we did this in 2018, we had entertainers, and a wonderful keynote, and we will have another wonderful keynote tomorrow, Sara Minkara. But to kick us off today in this new virtual environment, I've invited Precious Perez. And I love the story of how I met Precious, because I didn't really meet Precious. Carmen Plazas, who is our communications director, was at a street festival last summer, and she was hearing, ah and here is Precious now! She was hearing Precious sing and I don't think, Precious you were off the stage yet, when Carmen texted me right away. She was like, "You have got to hear this young woman. She has got to be a part of the UP Award." And here you are. So, Precious Perez, and Shane, Shane Lowe, thank you for joining us today.

Precious Perez: Of course and we're really excited to be here. I'm super excited and super grateful for this opportunity. Yeah, I remember Carmen actually found my artist website, which I was really stoked about, because I haven't had a lot of traffic through there, and sent me an e-mail and said, "Hey, you know, I'm Carmen, I saw you at you know, the Chelsea day performance, and I'd really like to talk to you more about this." And then I ended up meeting with her and Charles. And so, it was just such a cool thing and a cool way to get involve in this wonderful, wonderful thing that everyone has put together here. A little bit about us. So, I was born in Chelsea, Massachusetts. I was born and raised there. And I'm Puerto Rican and so, I grew up around a lot of, you know, in an urban community, there's a lot of different cultures, different people, and I feel so blessed to have been surrounded by all of that growing up. I came from a low-income, you know, community and that's, you know, first generation college student, all of these things are part of who I am and where I came from. And then having a disability, being blind on top of that and dealing with advocacy, dealing with people who think that I can't do things that they can do kinda added to all of that. But when I realized what I truly wanted to do was become a performer, become somebody who could, through my passion, show the world that, hey, people with disabilities, you know, people from all these different communities, people of color, people with mental health things, all of these things that I represent, all these communities that I represent, can do anything that anyone can do. And being able to perform and I'm also studying music education, teach students from all demographics whether they're blind students or sighted students, and being able to show them like, hey, people that look like me, people that look like you, can do anything that they put their mind to and you can follow your dreams. And Shane is my fiance, but he's also my percussionist. And we perform together and you know, we travel together, we do all of these things, and, you know, we're kind of in this, on this journey together to help get our message across and really show people that, you know, we're capable. And anyone in these positions is capable of doing whatever they want to do and live a full, productive life. So, that's really a huge part of what we do, of what I do as an educator, as a performer, and just as a person every day, is educating people and just really leading by example. And, you know, given the times that we're living in with all of the heavy things going on in this world, all of the injustices, everything, the song that we're presenting to you today is called Campeona. It's an original song and the title translates to Champion. And it essentially talks about, you know, as one person, it's easy to feel like nothing that we're doing matters, like, you know, the world is on our shoulders, but nobody's there for us, until you realize that the community and those that are around you that lift you up, together, we have the power to make a change and we have the power to change the world. And when all is said and done, we are all champions. So, it's something that gives me hope to think about and, you know, something that we put into practice, just trying to do the best we can to help support any community facing injustice these days. And just doing everything we can, and it's basically alone we're one person, but together, we're not alone. And, so, I'm really excited to present Campeona to you today. And thank you so much for having us.

Charles: Precious, thank you so much.

Precious: Of course. This is super exciting.

[Shane and Precious perform a song at 21:15.]

Charles: Wow, wow, wow, wow, thank you, thank you. I am so happy to have you part of the program today, Precious and that was, when you chose that song, who knew it would resonate so much, thank you, thank you. A few notes for anyone who is watching, we did decide that we wanted to just hear and see Precious, which is why we had the captions and not the interpreter. We'll be doing a little experimenting with that throughout the week. And we look forward to you telling us what works and what doesn't. So, along with the challenge right now of, as Precious said this, self-assessment, this strengthening for ourselves and our wellness, how can we make sure that we are strong enough to contribute? So, if you have the opportunity, go to massculturalcouncil.org/UPAward, look at the challenge, and look at the evaluation. And thank you for checking it out. So, Anita, you wanna give us a sense of what we've got coming up this week?

Anita: First of all, Charles, before I do that, I wanna give you a big ole round of applause, do I do this right? Yes, yes . Because, Charles and Angelina and Ann and a whole bunch of people at the Mass Cultural Council have been thinking long and hard about how we were still going to recognize this incredibly important and we now know more important than ever work that so many in our field are doing and that Charles has been leading across the Commonwealth. And you know, all right, no heavy hor d'oeuvres, that is usually a feature of our UP Awards, but you're certainly welcome to bring your own from your very own kitchen as you join us, hopefully for the rest of the week and we will be here every single day, same time, same station. And tomorrow we are gonna be taking a look at Barrington Stage and South Shore Conservatory who've also been doing some incredible, incredible work. But Charles, you know, it's really hard to step away from the world around us. It's hard to take this wonderful, wonderful few minutes that we've had together this morning to think about the good work that's being done. And so I'm always trying to look for that work wherever I can find it and I'm almost afraid to open a newspaper in the morning because it's just so painful, it's so painful to see what's happening in our country, all over the world, and in Massachusetts. But there was a little bit of something that I found a bit inspiring that I saw overnight. And that was of course, there's protests, not just in cities across our country but all over the world around the injustice that plagues cities and communities and people every single day. And in Flint, Michigan, I think it was, the crowds turned out to let their voice be heard around injustice. And the chief of police, instead of showing up in an armored vehicle with layers and layers of you know, bullet protection and carrying military-style rifles, he came in a T-shirt and he went into the protesters and he said, "What can I do?" And they said, "March with us." and he did. And I think that's one of the things that we're saying this week. March with us. One step at a time, we can do this together. You're doing it. We're learning from you, every day we will take a step and we will learn another amazing story of inclusion in our field. So thank you, thank you, Charles, thank you for your inspiring leadership every single day. And thank you so much to all of you who have signed on to our Zoom today, and hopefully will for the next four days, as we celebrate good work. Thank you very much, thanks, Charles.

Charles: Thank you.

Tuesday 2 June
Keynote by Sara Minkara of Empowerment Through Integration, and honoring Barrington Stage and South Shore Conservatory

 

Anita Walker: Hello and welcome to our Virtual celebration on Excellence in Access, day two. I'm Anita Walker, Executive Director of the Mass Cultural Council. I'm a woman in her 60s, wearing an ivory colored jacket, glasses and I guess about shoulder length hair. And I'd like to also say hello to our good friend and colleague, Charles Baldwin, who has been taking a leadership role and running our UP Program. It's been almost five years now Charles, I had to double check with you this morning before we got started. This is day two, as you know. If you missed day one, you will have an opportunity to see a recording of that, I think coming up sometime later this week. But we are here, of course, to celebrate and acknowledge the amazing work our colleagues have done in our UP Program. UP, Universal Participation is all about inclusion. And inclusion is not just an idea, it requires action and it requires change. Our organizations and UP believe that change is possible, change is necessary and change is urgent. Before we get into our discussion about the UP Program and the organizations who are doing such amazing work across the Commonwealth, I do wanna take in a moment just to honor those with the courage and commitment to stand up and speak out in favor of social justice and call for justice in this country. I've received countless emails from cultural colleagues who are speaking it out against the violence against people of color in our country, in and our communities and they are all promising to be part of the solution. But we know that the solution is more than just hopes and prayers, it's about action and UP is about action. It requires commitment from the top, we require the board of trustees to literally sign a letter of commitment to be part of that. It involves inviting the unheard voices into our organizations, putting them at the table, putting them in leadership roles, we call them user experts. They count on their life experience to help us know how to be better and to do better. And we know that in UP, we must make change through action. Today, we're gonna be seeing exactly what that looks like. And we're gonna be honoring two of our organizations who have been with us since the very, very beginning of UP, Barrington Stage and South Shore Conservatory. They were both in our first cohort some five years ago. And actually, they're both celebrating anniversaries of their own this year. We're gonna start today, however, with Council Recognitions Awards and I would like to introduce one of our council members, Allyce Najimy from Western Mass to take the first one.

[A pre-recorded video plays.]

Allyce Najimy: Hi, I'm Allyce Najimy, a proud trustee of the Mass Cultural Council. I grew up in Pittsfield Mass and was shaped by the people, the natural beauty and the amazing arts and cultural opportunities I had, I now live in Boston. But the Berkshires are still a big part of my life. That's why I'm happy to present the special UP Award to a place that makes the Berkshires great. Barrington Stage opened its doors 26 years ago in the Berkshires, bringing music joy and art to so many, in the Berkshires, a Commonwealth of Massachusetts and beyond. They are a vibrant generous creative force and raise up the voices of many, further musicals, plays and events seasonally and year round. Their commitment to giving back is inspiring. They nurture young talent on their stages. They go into the schools and provide art and culture workshops. They host internships for local aspiring actors and actresses and actively mentor playwrights. They are an important part of the cultural economy in the Berkshires, providing jobs and opportunities. That's why I'm so pleased to provide them with their UP Cultural Council Award. Congratulations Barrington Stage.

[The video ends.]

Charles: Now, we'd like to welcome Branden Huldeen. from the Barrington stage company to talk a little bit about their work and the ways that they realized access. So thank you Branden for joining us today.

Branden Huldeen: Thanks for having me. Again my name is Branden Huldeen, I'm the artistic producer of Barrington Stage, pronouns he/him/his. I am a sub middle aged white man with longer hair than normal, and wearing a sport coat for the first time in three months, it feels great. Thank you for having me and thank you for recognizing Barrington Stage.

[A powerpoint presentation begins to play.]

Branden: Barrington Stage Company was founded 26 years ago. Here in the Berkshires is not just a theatre to present great theatre both new and old, but also to be a theatre of our community. From early on, our education and community engagement Programs have been part of the essence of what makes parenting special. Our playwright mentoring project to celebrate is 20th year. This Program engages groups of local teams to share their stories with each other, learn conflict resolution skills and create their own place, present to the community, although we’re creating a new family in the process. Here at Barrington, we continually discuss how to engage our wider community on various levels, free tickets, discounted Berkshire resident nights, free symposia and forums and more. We take each show on its own and discuss who should be seeing the show? Who would benefit from seeing this show? And how can we get them in to be part of that conversation? While the 2020 season is not what we had originally planned, we hope to present next year what we had hoped to present this year. Included in next year season is exciting world premiere musical for families called the "Supadupa kid," based on a book by local Pittsfield author Ty Allan Jackson. It tells the story of a young African American boy who gets superpowers and goes on just to try to save his community. We realized early on that we had a very special story and a wonderful, amazing musical in our hands and wanted to figure out how to reach as many families as possible, so we tossed out our old playbook for our youth theatre, decided to present the show for free, and essentially located park here in Pittsfield, removing barriers of cost, transportation and bringing the theatre into our community's backyard. And we are excited now to present that show in Pittsfield for free in the park next year. This show exemplifies how Barrington's set Stage approaches our work in the community. We look for barriers for entry and we figure out how to either smash them or get around them. We want everyone to feel welcome at Barrington Stage, no matter your barrier. We are a theatre for this community and we are honored to be recognized by UP for our work and we look forward to facing new challenges and keeping theatre alive in the Berkshires for years to come.

Anita: Thank you so much, Branden. Now Branden, you at Barrington Stage are pretty good with this Zoom because I had an opportunity to see some of the work that young people had prepared to put on the stage this year and then at the last minute, translated into this Zoom format. They made entrances, they made exits. It was absolutely amazing the work that they did, but your organization is truly exemplary when it comes to inclusion and access. And you have acted to make that so for your community, so thank you very much. I would absolutely like to thank our council member Karen Bsrry, from the Plymouth area of Massachusetts who took the time to record an introduction to our next guest and our next organization.

[A pre-recorded video plays.]

Karen Bsrry: This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Social Conservatory making music and changing lives on the South Shore. South Shore Conservatory reimagine online learning and they continue to reach and support our community. The commitment to access is realized everyday through creative partnerships. They provide invaluable literacy programs, extensive art therapy, and they increase opportunity for creative participation for out children through their scholarships. All of their actions support a full life spectrum from toddler to elder. And I thank them for fully embracing the important role that they have in our community wellness, and also enhancing our civic lives. I am very pleased to honor Social Conservatory with the 2020 UP Council Recognition Award. Congratulations, and thank you for the work that you do.

[The video ends.]

Anita: Eve, you and I have had a chance to work together. You are a music therapist who actually brings well being and healing to so many people in your community through music. And we are so proud of the South Shore Conservatory for the work you're doing in our Up Programming and to be as inclusive as you possibly can be.

Eve Montague: Thank you Anita. My name is Eve Montague, I'm the Director of Creative Arts Therapies at South Shore Conservatory. I'm a board certified music therapist. We are the largest community music school here in New England. We serve over 4000 individuals each year in traditional music lessons and creative arts therapies and then a host of other Programs including dance programs and early childhood education. We have significant partnerships in our communities, including local schools, long term health facilities, the hospice programs, and other programs that serve individuals who might learn differently. We are celebrating five years as an up designated organization and are very proud to be part of this network. We're also celebrating 50 years of making music and changing lives here at the Conservatory. In our creative arts therapies program, we have the privilege of serving over 500 individuals each year, ranging in age from zero to 100 plus. We serve individuals with all different kinds of abilities including those who have developmental or intellectual challenges. Those on the autism spectrum, those living with Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease, medically fragile individuals, the physically and sensory challenged folks and adults and those with mental health challenges. Music is the great equalizer and that's why it works so well for us in Creative Arts therapies. We have specially designed groups and ensembles as well as individual therapy and wellness focus services for all our communities. Access and accommodation support to all teaching faculty and staff is what we also provide, so that they may work with their students in the least restrictive environment. We build capacity amongst our instructors and with community members so that they too can make the arts more accessible to everyone. For us, it's not a matter of whether someone can do something but really how do We help them do it? How can we make them work? We use universal design for learning as really a pillar for our services, multiple means of engagement, representation and expression. The community partnerships allow us to bring service and therapy to those in need, where they are. We understand the importance, know that everyone needs arts in their lives and we provide entry points to the arts as creator, audience, performer, and lifelong learner. Our facilities are warm and inviting, very accessible. We've been fortunate to make significant improvements over the course of the years, thanks to the generosity of Mass Cultural Council. We provide know before you go and social stories so people can plan ahead and know what to expect. It's a work in progress for us, however and we continue to make improvements. Our culture at the Conservatory is inviting, helpful and attentive to everyone who walks through our doors and accesses our services. We provide staff and faculty training so that we build capacity with all our constituents. We understand the importance of people first language and we wanna be an accepting, creative and celebrating individual skills. We are welcoming, our jazz rock pop department has seen an increase in young individuals who might be questioning their place in society, and where they fit in. And they have found a home and comfort within our Programming. We're non judgmental, that's the beauty of the arts, it's the great equalizer. Providing safe space has been very important and creating community. We provide a true continuum of service and opportunity. As I said, we are a work in progress, we have made huge gains, but we don't wanna be complacent or assume we have finished the task. Thank you to MCC and their development to have the UP initiative and for their ongoing support. And thank you to SSC and especially our outgoing president, Kathy Czerny and the board leadership. We appreciate everything that's doing and then SSC, we are making music and changing lives, thank you.

Charles: Eve, thank you. What I appreciate and love about what you said, is the idea of the work in progress. And I think that Anita and I can agree that this Virtual space is a work in progress. And that is all part of it.

Anita: You know, Charles, it's interesting because as we've all been learning how to use this new technology and I keep trying to say we're gonna wrestle into the submission, one of these days. On the one hand, it provides increased access, if you have difficulty getting out of your home, if you don't have time to get to the theatre and so forth. In a way, it reaches more people and it provides greater access. But it's also a barrier to access at the same time. And I think this is something that we're all trying to think very carefully about. Not everyone has broadband and high speed internet. And not everyone can appreciate this without glitches, even those that we've Programmed in. And everybody has a laptop. We found in our Creative Youth Development Programs as they are now homebound and their supporters and their organizations like Barrington Stage are trying to reach out and continue that Programming and relationship with the young people. First they have to have a laptop and they have to have a place to put their laptop. And sometimes they're in crowded homes, with everybody being sequestered at home and even just finding that place. And the other thing that I think we've also discovered about our Zoom conversations with people is, as you were noting in our pre show conversation, you organized your books to make your background look good. We're inviting people into our homes in a way. And that can be a wonderful new lens and way to understand people, but it also is sort of crossing… How should I say it, it's sort of crossing a level of knowledge about people that maybe they don't want to share.

Charles: I think that's all of those points are so spot on. Because I do think that this intro into our homes, you know, so many of us are used to this third space, whether it's the office or the community center, where we have a chance to be, sort of meet on equal ground. And suddenly becoming into our homes with pets or children or seniors or family. There's a lot and so I have fabricated this back wall. I should introduce myself `cause I've . I'm Charles Baldwin, I am the Program Officer for the Universal Participation Initiative. I am an older white gentleman with a beard, glasses and a mohawk. And I want to even though, with technical glitches, to give a shout out to our tech team, because these Virtual Spaces that we're trying to turn in to this third space so that we can still be connected, that's the wrestling that we're doing, how can we make these Virtual Spaces more accessible? So through this half hour, we're providing ASL interpretation, we have the captioning happening. We are also trying to with 30 minutes, attempt a certain pace that contributes to our own well being. For many of us working remotely, we Zoom, Zoom, Zoom, and Zoom again, and even that can start to wear us down. So throughout all of this UP initiative in the Virtual Space, while we're celebrating access, we're also experimenting with new methods of access.

Anita: I have to say, Charles, first of all, Charles is a fantastic leader, a fantastic teacher. And we've all taken a leap of space. So when you first said we're doing five days in a row, there was this sort of panic that set into the leadership team at the M ass Cultural Council, and we're gonna have performances and we're gonna have honors and we're gonna have videos. And we were like, "Oh, boy, let's do it, Charles, "let's go for it."

Charles: And thank you for allowing that experimentation because sometimes access is also risk. And we talked about turning words into action, this idea of how do we... Not only to be responsive, but to be aspiration wide. To take those risks, and to try new things. And really now more than ever in this speculative landscape, these risks are gonna be part of our everyday lives. So, yeah.

Anita: As of now... Risk taking, first of all, requires a certain amount of courage. But it also requires a lot of forgiveness. And I feel that we are all in an environment of forgiveness since we're all trying and succeeding at various levels to work with the new technologies, by the way that we never ever used to use 10 weeks ago.

Charles: Oh, for many of us, although many of these Virtual Spaces have been used by a variety of people who don't have the ability to get out and about. I mean, there is an assumption around technology, but it has been serving people for a long time. And now it's serving more of us which really fits into this whole idea of you improve things for one person and so many more people benefit, which is an UP directive.

Anita: Exactly. Well, it's good for work overall. So take it away, Charles, what's next?

Charles: I am delighted to introduce Sara Minkara who is our Keynote today. I first met Sarah really classic online. My good friend and colleague Maggie Austin had said, "what have you heard about this empowerment "through integration and their dinners in the dark?" And I was like I had never heard of them. So I went online immediately. And being the shy fellow that I am, I reached out to everyone's email address that was on the website. And this is how I met Sara. The work that she does through her organization is bias breaking. I have participated in one of her dinners, which was really eye opening. I'm also thrilled, not only because I have the opportunity to work alongside Sarah, and we have been juggling ways that we might work together but I would like to note that she has just been awarded the Harvard Kennedy School Emerging Global Leader Award. So the timing to have Sara here with this and in the real acknowledgement of the work that's being done around the world and the work that needs to be done right here in the Commonwealth, I am pleased to introduce miss Sara Minkara our Keynote for the upper ward 2020.

Sara Minkara: Hi, everyone, I'm going to start off with an introduction and then I'll go into kind of what I do and and all that fun stuff. I'm a daughter, I'm a sister, I'm a friend, I'm a colleague. I'm a troublemaker, I love math, I love nature and I love to eat chicken. I love to listen to audiobooks, I like to take walks outside in nature. I am a woman, I am Muslim, I am blind and I'm very proud of it. When I was seven years old on my birthday to be exact, I woke up that day and I had lost most of my vision. We were in our summer house in my parents home country which is Lebanon and outside of the windows, there's these big, huge mountains. And that day when I woke up, I couldn't see anything. And I remember telling my mom and my mom realizing that her second daughter has also become visually impaired. She hugged me really tightly, and she said, "Sara, everything is going to be okay." And everything was okay because of my mom. Specifically my family, and my support system. My mom never allowed society's expectations or lack thereof to enter our home in our narrative, in our community at home. She never allowed the, what disability meant externally to enter what it meant internally in our home. She helped us to see that our blindness was a strength. Our blindness was an identity that we should embrace and see a beauty behind. She pushed us to see our potential and take every single step to tap into the value that we have. She never allowed us utter the words "I can't do this because I cannot see." So we saw our blindness as part of who we are, we didn't see something off or wrong. But yes, the external world, the society sees as negative. But because she empowered us, we were able to face every single obstacle that we face because yes, society is not inclusive. Society has so many issues when it comes to access. But because we were empowered and we believe that we belong and we exist and we can contribute, we we're able to tackle these obstacles. We continue to go to the mainstream schoolings. I'm here and we grew up in the South Shore. We went to the public schools. I was able to call it a wealthy study math and economics. I went to Harvard and I was even able to hike and slide down a volcano in Nicaragua. That's not because I have more potential or more ability, but that's because I had the privilege of having an amazing supportive system, where I was empowered to see the beauty that I had. But do you know what? Most people with disabilities, 1 billion individuals in this world are living. Majority of them are living a narrative of being marginalized and cast aside and told that "You know what, "you are a burden, you are charity and you cannot, "you cannot and you cannot." So that's why I found an empowerment integration a non-profit that really focuses on let's disrupt the narrative surrounding disability. Let's take it from the charity lens, to value based lens. Not a human rights lens, because when we stop about human rights, you know where we stop at? We thought about this narrative saying, "Well, I guess I have to educate, I have to integrate, "I have to employ people with disabilities." We wanna come to a point where society says, "I want to include people with disabilities "because if I don't, I lose out on their value." `Cause every single person has something beautiful to contribute. And we're also trying to get people with disabilities, youth with disabilities say, "You know what, "I am proud of who I am, I belong, I exist "and I can contribute." So what our approach is to really tackle this narrative on all fronts, especially on a societal level. But let me take this to where we are right now. And how can we relate to every single one of us in this Virtual room and beyond? We all have faced some kind of marginalization based on one or more of identity. And especially now thinking about what we're dealing with in our country. On one hand, and this is a journey, and this journey is including, I'm still going through this journey, how can we reflect? And make sure that we embrace every single identity of ours, and love who we are? How can we get to a point where we not allow these isms in our society to impact how we see ourselves? I always say that I am proud to be blind, my blindness, my disability is a strength. It's given me creativity, innovation, stubbornness, perseverance, and I can go on forever. But that's a journey, because you know what? These isms and these narratives are so, so strong. But it's so important for us to always take a step back and say, am I listening to my inner core? Am I listening to my value, my beauty? Am I allowing these narratives to impact how I see myself? So let's really move towards embracing all of who we are in a beautiful way. But let me flip the narrative and flip the table and say, you know what? We're also humans and we all judge including me, right? We're all humans, that's part of who we are. And we are proud of creating these narratives and isms, all of us in our own ways. So it's also important for us to really take every single step in our lives and reflect on how am I judging? How am I seeing this world? What are the assumptions am I creating? And how can I delay my assumptions and have one assumption when I approach any single person that this person has something beautiful to contribute. Because if we approach every single person in that mindset, we are part of creating a space of empowerment and inclusion. were a part of creating a space where people feel like they belong and they can bring out there value. It's so important for us to reflect on these systemic isms that we're dealing with in our country. And think about how can we start addressing it within ourselves, and then our families and in our communities. So my final ask of us and this is an ask, I always ask myself is let's really move forward and see the beauty with ourselves and see the beauty within others. Thank you so much, and hope you have a day rest of the day.

Charles: Thank you so much, Sara. I knew I wanted you to be a part of this. And I'm delighted that you were able to join us.

Anita: Sara, that was amazing and what I... I mean, I learned so much every time I have a chance to really listen, we really get a chance to learn. And I loved that you gave us all a tool that we can use ourselves. A question that we can ask ourselves and a way to sort of peel back that human barrier that we all put in front of ourselves, that is biased. So thank you, thank you very much for that.

Charles: I’m going to give a thank you to everyone who was able to participate today, Branden and Eve. Total shout out to Karen and Allyce cause we worked so hard on those videos, and I've got to know them a little bit better because of that. And again, a great big shout out to Sara for participating. For people who may be listening today, we are trying to reach through the screen. So do check out massculturalcouncil.org/upaward for an evaluation, for some universal design for learning projects. And for some resources to keep learning more about what access is and What it can be.

Anita: Charles, I think this was a great day today. And we have three more to come. So every day, same time, same station, join us tomorrow we will be celebrating more of the wonderful work and please know there is amazing and wonderful work going on in every corner of the Commonwealth. Charles and Angelina who work together on Up Program are keeping the ball rolling, and we are so excited to see what's coming next. And don't forget, there's a big, big reveal on Friday. So it's time to start building the suspense and excitement enthusiasm. So if you've missed any portion of this, they will eventually at some point in time be available to you as a recorded binge watching opportunity. But in the meantime, stick with us. You know live is fun, you never know what's gonna happen, right, Charles?

Charles: That is so true, so true. But you did point out that this is part of actually a grant or prize ceremony, so someone at the end of this week is going to be given $10,000.

Anita: Ah, now you're gonna stick with us `cause you wanna know who the contestants are. Well, this is more than a contest. It's real work that our organizations are doing together. And we want to make sure more and more organizations and individuals have an opportunity to participate and become increasingly inclusive. Thank you so much for joining our Virtual Up Awards session today and we will be right back here tomorrow.

Wednesday 3 June
Honoring Abilities Dance, The Discovery Museum, and Tower Hill Botanic Garden, with musical performance by Me/2 Orchestra

 

Anita Walker: Welcome to our celebration of Universal participation, UP and the UP awards. I'm a woman on the far side of the 60s with shoulder length hair. I'm wearing a navy blue sweater but I do want to say a little bit about my necklace, because it's a series of sort of reddish balls some people think they look like strawberries, some think they look like beach balls so you can imagine what you like. And I do have glasses on and with me is the inevitable, inimitable Charles Baldwin.

Charles Baldwin: And good morning, Anita. Thrilled to be here. I'm Charles Baldwin. I am the program officer for the Universal Participation Initiative, or UP. I'm an older white gentleman with a beard, glasses and a mohawk. And today I'm wearing a plaid blue shirt. So, day three and today is our, the beginning of really our nominations for the UP award. It's been a pretty good process to get here. We put out this call for organizations that are part of UP to identify who they think is really doing the good work, and then we ended up with about eight, which we've been sharing. And then a panel has discussed the top five and really helped determine who they think is really an exemplary right now. So, I'm excited that we've been able to get started on this.

Anita: So, Charles, this has really been an interesting week so far. We're on day three as you have said and we could never have imagined that we would be celebrating this incredible work around inclusion in a week where the entire world is discussing the consequences of centuries of lack of inclusion. And I think at first we were thinking, oh, I don't know if it's right to be celebrating anything at this time because of how painful and really the searing pain so many millions of people are feeling today but as I've been thinking about it, we've been talking about how our UP organizations aren't just about an idea, they are acting, they are making change, they are making a difference. And as every single day we think about where is the leadership? I'll tell you where the leadership is. It's in our UP organizations.

Charles: I couldn't agree more because I do know that this acknowledgment of good work can sometimes seem frivolous when there are inequities that are being be shouted about and changed daily. And yet sometimes the artists in these slow and steady and incremental steps are actually instituting change. And UP is that, as you say, it's a direction. So, it is this goal of constantly, do I use the word persistence? Constantly persisting on the change. And we've got amazing organizations that are part of UP and It's wonderful, if it's not a celebration, it's a serious acknowledgment of good work.

Anita: You know, sometimes powerful leadership is hiding in plain sight and that's what we have here. It isn't always loud, it isn't always on television and in the news media or on the front page of the newspaper but the leadership we've been sharing this week amongst our organizations that are truly not just thinking about change but they are intentionally making change that is including more and more people into their organizations. So, shall we get started with—

Charles: Let’s do it.

Anita: The three honorees that we're talking about. So, we have three finalists, again as Charles just said, selected by their peers, Tower Hill Botanical Garden, Discover Museum and Abilities Dance. So we're gonna be hearing from each one of them so, shall we get started with Grace Elton who is the executive director of Tower Hill, Grace?

Charles: Welcome.

Grace Elton: Hi there, thank you all so much for having me. As you said I'm Grace Elton, I'm the CEO of Tower Hill. Today I'm wearing a black and white dress that has flowers on it, we like to stay on mission here at Tower Hill and make sure flowers are in part of everything we do. We're so grateful to be nominated for this award because at Tower Hill, we're committed to strengthening connections between people and plants and as horticulturalists, we understand that biodiversity is so important in creating a garden and we feel that the diversity of people that we bring to the garden is also just much, it's so important in strengthening our community here at the Garden Elton here in . So we like to call our garden, "A garden for all". This means that we open our gates for people of all experiences and interests, all abilities, all backgrounds and all communities. Being a garden for all means that we make sure that first of all, everyone can access our gardens. Being outdoors, it can be challenging to ensure that people of all abilities can move around the garden with ease and that's why we're committed to using Universal Design principles on all of our new construction. The garden within reach, which you can see on this screen, is part of one of the first gardens that we designed using these Universal Design principles. It was supported by the MCC facilities fund and the UP program, so thank you very much for that, couldn't have been done without you all. And it has many features, such as raised beds, removable planters and other great things that allow people to garden from a wheelchair without having to kneel on the ground. There are also areas that you can stand in the garden if bending and squatting and sitting is not comfortable for you. So this year we're working on redesigning our entry experience, the first impression that people have of the garden. It includes six accessible paths that we'll be adding to the garden. It makes it a lot easier to purchase tickets, to learn about the garden and to engage with our staff. You may not know we have a great tour coming up or a wonderful program going on that you can be a part of. So, this work wouldn't be possible without empowering our staff with the knowledge, skills to think critically about inclusivity, diversity, equity, and accessibility at the garden. We shorten that to IDEA, here at Tower Hill. In 2019 we began our IDEA committee. This was a group of staff and board that work together to make sure that all of our programs are strategically aligned and it really prepared staff to carry out these programs in a way with the IDEA in mind. The committee hosted several staff programs, we got to learn wonderful things like Accessibility 101, being an LGBTQ Plus ally, working with visually impaired people and a periodic idea of brown bag lunch reading group actually has been pretty popular with our staff as well. This winter we also had a staff-wide inclusion and diversity survey to measure the inclusive culture of our work place and we identified a lot of opportunities where we want to grow in the future. In January, 2020, with the support of the MCC UP grant, we had also two consultants develop and host a mandatory all-staff training on implicit bias and engaging with diverse visitors. These are just a couple of the things that we've been doing to increase our IDEA knowledge and try to make our garden more, that garden for all that we're striving towards. So together all of the efforts ensure that our staff considers that inclusivity, diversity, equity and accessibility is very important to their daily lives and to their both work and personal lives. And really we try to empower our staff to make Tower Hill truly a garden for all both inside and out. We know our work has just begun and we're very excited to continue this very joyful work. So, thank you again for this nomination. The garden is open now to members this week and we'll be open to the public on Monday. So, I hope you come and see some of these wonderful garden additions in action.

Anita: Thank you so much, Grace. I was going to ask you if the gardens were open because I do know in Phase I some of our outdoor organizations are absolutely starting to open up. I do want to say one other thing that you're a great example of. We talk about access for all, when you put the ramp on the sidewalk or the curb cut, we all use it for our bicycles, pulling the roller suitcase, we all use that blue button on the door to help the door open and I have to admit I'm an aspiring gardener, let's put it that way, and one of the hardest things about gardening for me is bending down on my poor knees in the dirt and trying to break my back. And you have these wonderful platforms that go up and down that just hit you at the right height whether you're in a wheelchair, whether you are a child or whether you're just a creaky old person like me.

Charles: I really enjoyed when I had the opportunity to meet, you have a very vivacious, active crew of women who are blind who are amazing personalities. And are not a shy bunch and that, I have to say, was a real treat to meet them and do some work with them because they were on point.

Grace: Oh, they were. They actually come and help us plant some of the planters in the garden within reach each year and they continue those staff trainings to help us better welcome visually impaired visitors to the garden. And the leader of that group, Liz Mesker actually joined our board about a year ago.

Charles: Liz, yes.

Grace: I need these concepts embedded in everything that we do and she agreed to come on as a trustee of our organization. So we're happy to have her.

Charles: Beautiful, happy to hear that. Okay, thank you.

Anita: Thank you so much. Congratulations. So Charles, shall we move on to the next one?

Charles: Yes.

Anita: Neil Gordon at the Discovery Museum. And Neil, long-time friend of the UP program. Neil has been an exemplar and advocate and a champion of this work and we are so happy to have Discovery Museum as one of our honorees this year.

Neil Gordon: Thank you, Anita. That's really nice of you to say. To introduce myself, I'm Neil Gordon, I'm the CEO at the Discovery Museum. I would describe myself as an older white guy with progressively more and more gray hair, no facial hair, glasses that are clear framed and today I'm wearing a blue and white checked shirt. Before I talk about the Discovery Museum though, I do want to take a second to acknowledge that Anita's impending retirement and thank her for her 13 years and all that she's done for all of us and including the creation of the UP initiative with so much, so much. Anita, thank you and good luck out there. So, let me start with a simple point, and that point is that the Discovery Museum, we believe, is good for kids and their families. And we want to make sure that all families have the opportunity to play and learn here. So, we serve about 250,000 people a year. We believe it's our job to make sure that they all feel that they belong when they are here. This approach drives everything that we do. With the support of our community partners, we work to ensure all of our visitors experience a depth of learning that engages everyone that we eliminate all the barriers of being here. So in conventional museums, those types of barriers can be physical, financial, racial, cultural, or can exclude kids or the grown-ups because of differences in learning style or family type. So there are a number of different ways that we do this work. Especially for MEP program, which is celebrating the 10th anniversary this year, reaches to kids on the autism spectrum or kids who are Deaf or hard of hearing or have vision impairment, all with free programs and events that for the whole family. We co-create inclusive learning opportunities with direct service organizations. We provide free and nearly free admission and school programs to more than 50,000 people a year through all of our access initiatives. Recently we renovated and redesigned our facilities and followed principles of Universal Design in doing that work. Importantly, we always look for ways to improve and seek guidance from user experts and from our network of advisors and peer organizations, including MCC-UP. We're working to become a platform for program presenters with disabilities to share their talents and knowledge. So why do families come to us? It's because The Discovery Museum fuels creativity and inspires kids to be curious, collaborative and to take risks. But mostly at the Discovery Museum, families can have fun and learn together. Everything we do is rooted in science, how kids learn and how their brains naturally drive them to acquire knowledge. The Discovery Museum makes a big difference for families because we believe every family deserves and needs this experience, we're going to make sure that they can. So, the idea is simple again, make this all possible for all kids and all families. Thank you for recognizing the Discovery Museum. [Pause.] Anita, you're muted.

Anita: Again, I keep pushing, I'm fighting with the controller. We talked in the beginning about leadership and, Neil, leadership is what you exemplify. As I said, you were a champion from day one on UP and the work you've done in terms of the transformation of your facility and you're the first one, Charles, I think, since we've been talking about the last three days, that has mentioned the principles of Universal Design. And this was really platform on which we built the UP program. Universal Design isn't just building design or facilities' design but it's about program design, it's about website design, it's about how you communicate with your audiences.

Neil: And it's truly universal. I mean, everything that we've done has made everything more available to all segments of our audience. We're so pleased to be a part of this initiative and had the chance to embrace those principles in all of our renovation.

Charles: And a lot of this work is with our critically important partnership with the Institute for Human Centered Design, which is really instilling the Universal Design principles, the inclusive by design ideas and that really gets the ball rolling and really starts making people see all of the environments that we create at our cultural institutions in new ways.

Neil: We had a lot of contact with those folks early on and we're really inspired by their work.

Anita: And I should mention, Neil, it's not just the tactics and the strategies, it's cultural change.

Neil: It really is important for the feeling to permeate everybody who works in your environment. And often that's the first question people ask when we start thinking about new ideas. How will this be something that we can do for everyone?

Anita: Thank you, Neil. Congratulations, well deserved honor and we are so glad to have a chance to talk to you about it today. So Charles, time to go on to our third honoree today. Ellice Patterson is joining us from Abilities Dance, another amazing program and actually, I know a little less about this one than I do about some of our others so I'm excited to meet Ellice and learn about Abilities Dance.

Ellice Patterson: Hi, thank you for having me, thank you for honoring us. My name is Ellice Patterson. I'm a Black young woman who is right now wearing a redhead wrap and a black blouse. So, I want to start by acknowledging everything and saying that I am tired. This organization was founded on this hard moment that I was facing in my life of not feeling that I had the space to be able to reach and grow and have the opportunities that my other artistic colleagues were embracing in the greater Boston area. From that has grown this amazing organization but there's been setbacks and challenges and even today we're realizing that we're still struggling. I'm personally struggling, the identities within some of the company members of our company are struggling but we hope that through this work, we're able to foster understanding and we're able to say that intersectional disability rights means Black rights, means human rights and that we're able to push that work forward in the greater Boston area and beyond to be able show this work is possible, access is possible in all of our spaces that given the platform we are able to do everything and that we will continue to do everything even in spite of it. So, rewind. Abilities Dance was founded in 2017. We have three different programs. Our professional performing company is a company of professional dancers, musicians, composers and different artists that create work, train rigorously and perform in really amazing venues to be able to provide representation on stage, provide equitable work opportunities and push that mission forward in a variety of ways. Our community engagement partners with different organizations and teaches movement workshops or lectures on disability culture history, intersectionality and more, so that we're able to have conversations on how we can increase the conversations and that equity in both of our spaces. And then our education program teaches adaptive technique to different students with or without disabilities so we can train the next generation of dancers. And through all of those different programs, we hope to be able to, as I mentioned earlier, be able to really push conversations, push that we're able to do the work that we need others to do the work with us and that we can go to a greater equitable greater Boston area and beyond. Thank you.

Charles: Thank you, so much, Ellice.

Anita: Ellice, Charles—let’s see, got all my buttons pushed. Okay, Charles, you said the word "persistence," and Ellice you started out saying, you can get tired being so persistent. There have been a lot of barriers and hills, what is it that keeps you going?

Ellice: I have no other space except for the space I created. I have to have that be successful because not only am I relying on it but the people in my company are relying on it and the people in our communities are relying on it to have that space that we just don't have.

Charles: And I will say, Ellice, when we first met, and I don't even remember when that was now, but where we are acknowledging a lot of organizations that have been around for 50 years, 40 years, 30 years, your persistence and your drive has created a place in the last four or five years and it's commendable because you have positioned yourself as an artist, as a professional company and a new way of looking at bodies and space and claiming that. So, I've really had a great deal of joy working alongside you thank you.

Anita: After that, Charles, this makes me think of what our keynote speaker, Sara said yesterday, about looking at people and seeing beauty first. And Ellice just exemplifies the message that we were hearing yesterday from our keynote speaker and today we have another amazing speaker and I'm going to let you fill us in on who we've got next.

Charles: Well, back in the pre-pandemic times and I don't say that lightly, this was going to be a physical event and to bring people together in a room is very meaningful, particularly with rich variety, this integrated space. However, we're exploring how we can make these virtual spaces, these third spaces. So, I was really happy that we were able to bring in the performers and some of the artists whom I have a chance to work with to be a part of this ceremony, this acknowledgment. And one of those is Caroline Whiddon, with Me2 orchestra. They are a wonderful organization that, I will let Caroline explain but sometimes when we think about access, people get really invested in the physical access and yet we know that access broadly is a wide umbrella that encompasses many different abilities. So, Caroline, thrilled that you're here today with Me2 Orchestra.

Caroline Whiddon: Thank you, Charles, very much. I'll start by describing myself for those who cannot see me. I am a Caucasian female, 50 years old, with shoulder length brown hair. Today I am wearing a sleeveless red dress and my reading glasses. I want to tell everyone that there are things that you cannot see about me from the outside and that is I live with mental illnesses that are invisible. I have a diagnosis of chronic anxiety disorder and panic attacks as well as depression and I am fortunate that those illnesses have been well treated now for almost 30 years. I share that because I'm here to represent Me2 and our tag line is "classical music for mental health." Our mission is to erase the stigma surrounding mental illnesses and we do this through supportive classical music rehearsals as well as inspiring performances. So, there's just a few things that I want you to know before you hear us perform today. There are absolutely no auditions and no fees involved in participating in our orchestras and ensembles. That's one of the ways we remove the barriers to inclusion. So, I expect my email inbox to blow up after this with people who play orchestral instruments and want to be a part of our movement. About half of our musicians are living with a diagnosed mental illness and it can range from depression and anxiety to bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, dissociative disorder, which is formally known as "multiple personalities," and addiction. It's critical you also know that half of our musicians do not have their own diagnosis and really that's how we represent this beautifully integrated community. It's really how we want the world to be, where everyone is welcomed. Me2 is the brain child of the man who is, now my husband, Ronald Brownstein. Ronald is our music director and conductor and he also lives with a diagnosis of bipolar disorder although I'm quick to tell people that that is absolutely the least interesting thing about him but it is important for you to know. Ronald wanted to found this organization due to the stigma and discrimination that he experienced in his professional life. So, please keep in mind as you watch our performance that you are viewing this beautifully integrated community that many of us are living with serious mental health diagnoses and that we're able to work beautifully together, literally side-by-side, making great music. Today we're going to share with you a recording of Elgar's Enigma Variations. This is from a performance in February, just before the pandemic sidetracked all of us. This particular movement is titled, "Nimrod" and I just think it's really a perfect brief piece of music that provides with us a beautiful contemplative space to think about inclusivity and I hope you enjoy it.

[A pre-recorded clip of an orchestral piece plays at 27:00.]

Charles: Okay. Thank you so much, Caroline.

Anita: I think, you are absolutely the exemplar of both the power of culture and the power of inclusivity. And when they merge together, it is just seamless and inspiring. In telling your story and sharing your story, I can tell you that is so meaningful to people who probably never said out loud what you have said, thank you.

Caroline: Thank you, Anita.

Charles: It means a lot and I am a caveat to music people out there, we are sharing music over the Zoom, which is never quite as rich as when we have the opportunity to hear it in person. But I also appreciate that it was a moment to slow down and just listen and I think that as we experiment with this virtual space, one of the things that we are looking at is pace because we do Zoom, Zoom, Zoom, Zoom but the need to slow down, to process the information, to listen and move forward just seems so critically important and sometimes for many of us, music reaches through this lens and does just that. So, thank you for being a part of this today.

Anita: Thank you Caroline. So, Charles, we have a challenge, you're going to tell us about our challenge.

Charles: Yes, so, the challenge is just that. How do we reach through this virtual screen to engage people in an authentic manner and also highlight the different ways that we communicate. So each day we're asking people who are listening or watching to go to the website, massculturalcouncil.org/UPaward. There are four different UP challenges there. First one has to do with health and well being, yesterday was around description as a process and a service and today it's around interpretation, which I thought was a good reaction to music. How do we interpret music physically, visually and that's the challenge. So, do check out massculturalcouncil.org/UPaward and the find different ways that you can think about interpreting the music and If you have the wearwithAl, please share it with us. We're gonna highlight a few of those on Friday.

Anita: And if you're having conversations over the rest of the day or between today and tomorrow or next week and people say to you, "Where is the leadership?" Well, you can say, "It's at Tower Hill, "it's at the Discovery Museum, it's at Abilities Dance." And tomorrow, you'll find out a couple more places where we have incredible leadership, Arts Emerson and Wheelock Family Theatre, two more amazing stories and amazing UP honorees. Charles, shall we say goodbye until tomorrow?

Charles: I think this is a nice little nugget of some good work and it's okay to say goodbye.

Anita: Thank you so much. Bye bye, everybody.

Thursday 4 June
Honoring ArtsEmerson and Wheelock Family Theatre, with musical performance by Queen Mab Micro Theatre

 

Anita Walker: Good morning and welcome to part four of the UP Awards, a celebration of Universal participation and a way to acknowledge organizations in Massachusetts that are doing an exemplary job of including everybody. Charles Baldwin, you are here again. We are here again. And you know what? Y'all who are joining us, don't see is a lot of the conversations before we get started. And I'm now led to believe that we are pushing the envelope just a tiche more in terms of finding new ways to be inclusive and to communicate. What's up, Charles?

Charles Baldwin: Good morning. I'm Charles Baldwin, I'm the Program Officer for the Universal Participation Initiative. I am an older white gentleman with a beard, glasses, and a mohawk. And today, I'm wearing a blue sweater, although it's far too warm for that. And to answer your question, Anita, yes. We are pushing this a little bit. Part of that is to have this moment, this virtual moment illustrate different methods of access. So today we have the captions. And we have our ASL interpreter. But our performance today will be in voice and in ASL. We're making or we're asking our captioner to translate, which isn't typical. And, so, yes, we're pushing the boundaries a little bit. But it's all an experiment sometimes in trying to define how we can make these virtual spaces more accessible.

Anita: One of things that I'm learning every single day, Charles, is that we have to practice. It takes practice to make habits. I forgot to describe myself today. I did a pretty good job on days one, two, and three.

Charles: All week.

Anita: So I am a woman in her far end of her '60s, I am wearing a dark jacket with a red necklace. I have shoulder length hair and I'm wearing glasses. Charles, one of the things and we have to acknowledge every day as we come together around this very important topic of inclusivity, that we are in a world that's struggling with it, an entire world and certainly a country. And one of the things that I'm thinking about is a feature of the UP program and something that I am seeing across the country that feels like an inflection point, is a real sense of commitment. It's not a one match, it's not a one conversation. There feels like a sense of commitment of persistence now.

Charles: It does require that vision, that mission, of really understanding the constructs that have marginalized people based on race or culture or language or ability. And this initiative that you've created here at the Mass Cultural Council, while sometimes the movement may seem slow, because many times it's incremental to get it right, it's also experimental. The key thing is to listen to the voices on the margins. Give them the opportunity to help make the change we're talking about.

Anita: You said two words this morning that I'm going to now, help myself too and start using over and over again. And that's fight perfection. Because that makes us stand still. If we are afraid to move forward, if it's not gonna be perfect, we don't go anywhere. So we're gonna be doing a little fighting of perfection today, aren't we?

Charles: A little bit, but again, with the agenda to help all of our listeners and viewers and anyone who's watching this after the fact, understand that these virtual spaces are now more critically important than ever to hear the voices who are not in the room.

Anita: So, let's get started. Yes, I know we have a lot of wonderful performances and people to talk to today. And of course, what we're doing all week is we're celebrating organizations and honoring organizations who have done amazing work, who have taken a leap of faith, who are taking a risk, who who are trying new things because they wanna be inclusive. And today we're gonna be learning more about two amazing organizations, ArtsEmerson and the Wheelock Family Theatre, which I know you know that well, Charles. And so, shall we get started? I'd like to introduce Emily Ranii. I hope I said that right Emily? To tell us more about the Wheelock Family Theatre.

Emily Ranii: Hi. Yes, I am Emily Ranii. I use she/her/hers pronouns. I have medium length brown hair, wearing glasses, and a gray shirt with tiny white spots. As we continue to fight for justice, visibility, and equality, we are especially honored today to be included as one of the Mass Cultural Council's UP award finalists. Wheelock Family Theatre at Boston university is dedicated to bringing the theatrical experience within the reach of every school-aged child in the greater Boston area. Access and inclusion have been fundamental to Wheelock Family Theatre since its founding in 1981. The Wheelock team believes that live theatre transforms lives, and that there should be no barriers to this transformative experience. Beyond offering three access performances per production, featuring ASL interpretation and audience description, Wheelock offers the following access points to every single performance: open captioning, enhanced listening devices, braille programs, large printed programs, a quiet room, fidget toys, and meet the seat opportunities. The theatre's space is physically accessible and the box office staff takes care to ensure that audience members who use wheelchairs can sit with their friends and family. Wheelock Family Theatre student Matinee series which offers reduced tickets to schools on a sliding scale basis, conducts extensive outreach efforts to schools serving students with disabilities, to ensure that every student's visit is safe and welcoming. A Wheelock teaching artist with a disability, regularly visits classrooms to provide pre-show drama shops and post show talk backs. Meanwhile, the education staff and teaching artists host on-site tactile tours and provides study guides and social stories to extend the learning before the curtain opens and after it closes. All on-site education classes are inclusive, and the Wheelock teaching team actively collaborates with families on making any accommodations necessary to ensure the success of our students. Wheelock Family Theatre has never turned a student away from our classes for inability to pay tuition, and annually offers over $100,000 in scholarships and tuition assistance. Which is all to say that, at Wheelock Family Theatre, live theatre transforms lives. We are passionate about the work that still needs to be done, and grateful to our community and the Mass Cultural Council for pushing our boundaries toward a better tomorrow.

Charles: Wonderful. Thank you, Emily.

Emily: Thank you.

Anita: One of the things that occurs to me as I'm listening to this is that inclusivity, I'm trying to make my video come on, but it's not working. But can you hear me, Charles?

Charles: I can hear you.

Anita: Okay. One of the things that occurs to me is inclusivity is not just about what happens after the curtain comes up, and when the curtain goes down, this is so comprehensive, what you're doing, Emily. You're thinking about way before a person even arrives at the theatre and how you're engaging before, during, after, and in between. How did you come to such a comprehensive approach?

Emily: Well, it really was in our founding. And we are all grateful to our ancestors and forebearers, Charles Baldwin among them. And, two of our founders, Susan Kosoff and Jane Staab for really learning and leading the way very early on. And we acknowledge that we are continuing to learn. And need to listen deeply and be responsive to our ever changing world, and also to the needs of individuals.

Charles: One of the things I loved, and this is a shout out, when we requested imageries for the slide shows that you all would have your moment. Of course, above and beyond, Jamie Aznew of Wheelock Family Theatre provided descriptions of all of the images, which I hasn't asked for, because, again, these 30 minutes, they're really tight. I'm asking for people to describe themselves. But I can ensure you, those descriptions will go in to the archived transcript just so they're there. Because it was wonderful to see that once again, Wheelock had gone above and beyond. So, thank you.

Emily: Thank you.

Anita: Congratulations, Emily. And thank you so much for sharing your story with us today. So, Charles, shall we move on to our next honoree today, which is ArtsEmerson? And joining us is Matthew Harrington. Welcome, Matthew.

Matthew Harrington: Hello.

Charles: Good morning.

Matt: Good morning. My name is Matt Harrington. I'm the Guest Experience Manager here at ArtsEmerson. I'm a white male in early 30s. I'm wearing a white shirt, I'm wearing a black striped tie. My hair is brown and short right now. My eyes are brown as well. I have a small beard as well. To start, from all of us at ArtsEmerson, we like to thank the Mass Cultural Council for recognizing us today at the UP Awards among other organizations doing incredible work for the access space. ArtsEmerson is committed to providing opportunities for everyone to connect to the stories they see on our stages. In line with the mission, we offer a variety of accessibility services to our patrons who are hearing impaired, Deaf, Blind, low vision, have ambulatory disability or cognitive disorder to make sure that they have every opportunity to engage with our work, and as an optimal a way as possible. But access is only one way we approach our commitment to social justice, and the never ending work of enduring oppression and advancing equity. From day one, our focus has been transforming our city's violent history around race using art to challenge audiences to reflect on the injustices they see, and to inspire them to take action. To speak out and stand up for equity in our communities, especially in moments like these. Today, in solidarity with Black Lives Matter, and the global protests against police brutality, we ask you to take a moment to contemplate the additional challenges faced by the Black members of the disability community. Let's strive to be a more intentional. Let's strive to be more intentional as cultural institutions to see, hear, and amplify all intersections within our communities. There's still so much work to be done. But we picked a few photos from our ten-year history that encapsulate ways we have demonstrated our commitment to access, and that raise up our allies from the community who have helped us design experiences that work for everyone.

[Pre-recorded audio plays while a slide show is displayed at 12:30.]

Narrator: The Fashion Accessibility Project was a unique artistic event we presented with partner Milia Lazu to a sold out audience in the Jackie Liebergott Black Box [the audio pauses for a moment] in 2017. Local fashion designers were paired with models of diverse physical and cognitive abilities to collaborate on custom-made garments, in line with clients' needs and provide a creative outlet for clients to embrace fashion as a part of their identity. Members of the access community attended the event and modeled the fashions on the runway. With the guidance and support of Charles Baldwin, we were able to create an event fully accessible and inclusive of all abilities. We constructed an accessible runway, designed a seating plan flexible and comfortable for all audiences, and offered ASL interpretation, and audio description services. We also worked with our partners at the HowlRound Theatre Commons to live stream the event, and provide technical assistance so people around the world could access this one of a kind evening in the comfort of their own homes. We were thrilled to be part of the project, and provide the access community with an outlet for creativity and self-expression. In October, 2019, we honored Sabrina Dennison, at our annual World Alive gala. Sabrina has been an incredible partner and ally, as an ASL consultant for ArtsEmerson, helping to ensure access for the Deaf and hard of hearing community in all our programs. From the work on stage, to her talk backs, parties and play reading book clubs, the level of service Sabrina provides to our audience is unparalleled, and she goes above and beyond to ensure that the ASL interpreters she selects each show embody the essence of the company, the players on stage, and ArtsEmerson's values. Each year, when we brainstorm a programming for our next season, representation from the access community representation is at the forefront of our minds. For years, we have been trying to present back-to-back theatre, and we're thrilled to finally welcome them in Boston January in 2020, with their work, "The Shadow's Whose Prey the Hunter Becomes." This production in particular, was one of the first represented featured actors with diverse cognitive disabilities. It was important for us that's while the company was in town, we were able to connect them to the cultural access community. We invited the cast to come to a meeting with the UP lead cohort, where they were able to talk about their creative process and engage with institutions in Boston who are interested in learning about their work. To ensure the broad community could easily access the production, we partner with our colleagues at Howlround to live stream the performances. Our hope is that back-to-back, in "The Shadow Whose Prey the Hunter Becomes," is just the beginning of a long line of programming we'll present at ArtsEmerson to reflect our commitment to accessibility. We believe the great way to be a truly accessible organization is to ensure that user experts have a say in determining our annual programming schedule. That's is why every year, we invite members from the ASL community to our season preview, and after party in May, to learn about our upcoming season's productions. These community advocates then meet with our artistic and art executive directors, to select the shows that they want to experience and have interpreted. We value this opportunity to engage the access community in our programming decisions. In doing so, we're living by our values of equity and inclusion to the point where our audiences feel ownership over the performances. Though we have yet to announce the plans for next season as a result of the pandemic, we're committed to ensuring that the ASL community will be a part of the decision-making process. And we look forward to the day that we can all gather again to experience the incredible theatre together.

Matt: Great. Before I conclude, I wanna say thank you, again, to the Mass Cultural Council for this recognition and to our peers for this nomination. We're deeply humbled to have been considered among an exceptional and innovative group of organizations. In particular, I would like to thank our internal access working group, Sarah, Jess, Ari, Brittany, and Craig, for always pushing us to innovate, and discovering new ways to be at the forefront of access in our sector. We look forward to continuing the work and reflecting the ways we can improve and refine our offerings, so we're responding to the needs of all intersections within the disability community, and ensuring all feel welcome in our theatres. Thank you, again.

Anita: Mathew, thank you so much. And, you are actually the first one this week, I think, or maybe this is the first time this week, we've talked about user experts, which is really core to the UP program. User experts are people with lived experiences, navigating the world, perhaps in a wheelchair or perhaps with a hearing aid. How did that work at your theatre?

Matt: Well, I mean, we've worked heavily within our own access working group, and sort of seeing, how can we better our theatres? And, there's nothing more than a user expert that can come in and sort of tell you what you've done right or what you've done wrong, what can you sort of get better here? Maggie Austin was sort of somebody we used as a user expert to help us sort of, ask her questions to ourselves and say, how do we do this a little better? How do we make this door not so heavy? How do we sort of make this ramp not as sort of steep? And, we were able to take a second and really see for ourselves how we could change things up by user experts like Maggie or like Sabrina who's been in our space as well. Sabrina is our consultant for ASL. So, they've been able to help us sort of take a look within ourselves to see how we can do better.

Anita: Charles, one of the things I was so impressed with is it's not just facilities issues. You're giving up some of your authority, you're giving up some of your power, even around programming. I think that must be tough for organizations to share the programming decisions.

Charles: I think some of that is changing too under the vision. Because, user expert is a term that's used in the design world. The idea of the user helping perfect it. But the very practice of listening to the people on the margins, representation falls under that. The ability to listen and respond to that. And organizations are just made up of people. And so, it's really just connecting on this one-to-one level, and being responsive to that. Who is a leader is also being constantly, consistently, persistently re-evaluated. And I think that's really important too. Who gets heard and when?

Anita: Thank you and congratulations. All right, Charles, I'm on the edge of my seat. I can't wait for the next part.

Charles: So this is where some of this virtual experimenting comes into place. Again, if we were in person, it would be a performance. And, it's still a performance, but it is still virtually. I had witnessed at a small benefit, a performance done by Queen Mab, which is a small microtheatre, set up for touring, Shakespeare and other pieces. But I had witnessed a scene from the Tempest that I thought was beautiful in both voice and ASL. So, I'm pleased that we can present a slice of that tempest now. And I'd like to introduce the director of the piece, Ms. Jessica Ernst.

Jessica Ernst: Thank you so much, Charles. And thank you to the Mass Cultural Council for having us today. My name is Jess Ernst, and I'm the director of "The Tempest" for Queen Mab, a microtheatre. I use she/her/hers pronouns, and I'm a white woman in her early 30s, with brown hair and a bun and wearing a sleeveless pink dress. The "Tempest" is considered to be Shakespeare's final play. And it's scenes of magic, language, love, control, and colonialism made it an incredibly exciting project to adapt. We have not only adapted the play of three actors, who will all play 11 characters, but we adapted it into a bilingual script for both hearing and Deaf actors. It incorporates both text as well as sign language. Hold on a second, there's an odd sound happening, and I wanna make sure it's not coming from me. Does not appear to be. Pardon me. So, we've created a beautiful bilingual script that incorporates Shakespeare's original text alongside translated sign language. Christian Johnson is our director of artistic sign language, and she has translated all of the character of Ariel's lines into sign, as well as multiple individual lines for other characters. Not only does this give us an adaption that's accessible to both hearing and Deaf communities, as both audience and artists, it allows us to explore language as a theatrical and thematic tool in a very rich and exciting way. We are able to explore spoken language and physical language, and celebrate the unique expressive powers of each tool. So before we share our scene with you today, I'm gonna give you a little summary. Our story begins with a magical storm off of the coast of a small island. Prospero, the former Duke of Milan who was ship wrecked there with his young daughter, Miranda, 12 years ago after being overthrown by his brother, Antonio, has used magical powers and the spirits of the island to call up a storm to wreck the ship that is carrying his treacherous brother and co-conspirators, and bring them to Prospero's island for revenge. Those co-conspirators include, the King of Naples, and his son, Ferdinand. The ship wrecked nobles are separated around the island and variously led astray, tormented by spirits and visions sent by Prospero. Ferdinand and Miranda meet and fall in love. Prospero slaved the island of native Caliban, fought with two ship wrecked servants to overthrow Prospero. And eventually, Prospero directly confronts the nobles, all of whom have thought him to be dead for the last 12 years. The king of Naples repents of the role in Prospero's overthrow, the families are reunited, and Prospero forgives his brother, Antonio. Prospero grants his favorite spirit, Ariel, his freedom. And all prepare to leave the island and return to Italy. The scene we're sharing today is from the beginning of the play, in which Prospero summons Ariel to report upon the success of the magical storm and ship wreck, and then plan their next steps. Prospero is played by Vincent Ernest Siders, who is a tall, statuesque African-American man, middle aged, with a salt and pepper beard, with long dread locks. He wears a long flowing cloak, which broadens his shoulders and matches the color of his beard. Ariel is played by Elbert Joseph, a young Caribbean-American man with short black hair, seated at a brown table, wearing a white colored shirt. Prospero's lines are spoken, and Ariel's lines are signed. Without further ado, hold on one moment, please. Let me set something up real quick. Make sure we're ready. Excellent. Without further ado, I'm honored to present "The Tempest." [Pause.] Charles, I believe we have a missing video challenge.

Vincent Siders: Ah, Jessica.

Jess: Yes, hello.

Vincent: Apparently, my video won't start unless the host turns me on.

Jess: Excellent. Let me take care of that for you.

[Pause.]

Vincent (as Prospero): Come away, servant, come. I am ready now. Approach, my Ariel, come.

[Elbert Joseph, the actor playing Ariel, communicates with Prospero in American Sign Language, while Prospero continues to communicate in spoken English.]

Ariel: All hail, great master! grave sir, hail! I come to answer thy best pleasure; be't to fly, to swim, to dive into the fire, to ride on the curl'd clouds, to thy strong bidding task Ariel and all his quality.

Prospero: Hast thou spirit performed to point the Tempest that I bade thee?

Ariel: To every article. I boarded the king's ship; now on the beak, now in the waist, the deck, in every cabin, I flamed amazement: sometime I'ld divide, and burn in many places; on the topmast, the yards and bowsprit, would I flame distinctly, then meet and join. Jove's lightnings, the precursors o' the dreadful thunder-claps, more momentary and sight-outrunning were not; the fire and cracks of sulphurous roaring the most mighty Neptune seem to besiege and make his bold waves tremble, yea, his dread trident shake.

Prospero: My brave spirit! Who was so firm, so constant, that this coil would not infect his reason?

Ariel: Not a soul but felt a fever of the mad and play’d some tricks of desperation. All but mariners plunged in the foaming brine and quit the vessel, then all afire with me: the king's son, Ferdinand, with hair up-staring,--then like reeds, not hair,—was the first man that leap'd; cried, 'Hell is empty and all the devils are here.'

Prospero: But, are they, Ariel, safe?

Ariel: Not a hair perish’d; on their sustaining garments not a blemish, but fresher than before: and, as thou badest me, in troops I have dispersed them 'bout the isle. The king's son have I landed by himself; whom I left cooling of the air with sighs in an odd angle of the isle and sitting, his arms in this sad knot. Safely in harbour is the king's ship; in the deep nook, where once thou call'dst me up at midnight to fetch dew from the still-vex'd Bermoothes, there she's hid: the mariners all under hatches stow’d; who, with a charm join'd to their suffer'd labour, I have left asleep; and for the rest o' the fleet which I dispersed, they all have met again and are upon the Mediterranean flote, bound sadly home for Naples, supposing that they saw the king's ship wreck’d and his great person perish.

Prospero: Ariel! Thy charge exactly as performed. But there's more work, hmm?

Ariel: Is there more toil? Since thou dost give me pains, let me remember thee what thou hast promised, which is not yet perform'd me.

Prospero: How now, moody? What is thou canst demand?

Ariel: My liberty.

Prospero: Before the time be out? No more!

Ariel: I prithee, remember I have done thee worthy service; told thee no lies, made thee no mistakings, served without or grudge or grumblings: thou didst promise to bate me a full year.

Prospero: Does thou forget from what a torment I did free thee? Huh?

Ariel: No.

Prospero: Thou liest malignant thing! Hast thou forgot the foul witch Sycorax who with age and envy was grown into a hoop? Hast thou forgot her?

Ariel: No, sir.

Prospero: Thou, my slave, as thou reportest thyself was then her servant. And for thou was the spirit too delicate to act her earthly and abhorred commands, refusing her grand hests, she did confine thee by the help of her more potent ministers, and in her most unmitigatable rage, into a cloven pine, within which rift imprisoned thou didst painfully remain, a dozen years. Within which space she died. It was mine art when I arrived and heard thee that made gape the pine and let thee out.

Ariel: I thank thee, master.

Prospero: If thou more murmurst, I will rend an oak and peg thee in its knotty entrails till thou hast howled away 12 winters.

Ariel: Pardon, master; I willl be correspondent to common and do my sprinting gently.

Prospero: Do so, and after two days, I will discharge thee.

Ariel: That’s my noble master! What shall I do? Say what; what shall I do?

Prospero: Go, make thyself like a nymph of the sea, be subject to no sight but thine and mine, invisible to every eyeball else. Go, take this shape, and hither come in it. Go, hence, with diligence!

[The actors both exit as the screen cuts to black and music plays.]

Anita: That was absolutely incredible. Are you there, Charles?

Charles: I am. Jessica, Vincent, Elbert, excellent.

Anita: I have to say, that experience is unlike any I've ever seen. And you know what? It was a learning experience for me because honestly, I forgot to turn the captioning on my computer at the very beginning. But, what an incredible, not only acting, what an incredible performance? Let's just start with the basics. But, well done.

Charles: And I so was reminded, Jessica, why this appealed to me so much. I know that Vincent and E.J. have worked together. And at the time, it was all in the performance that translated the message. And I'm very appreciative of your work today, the actors, and our captioner, for allowing that to happen without a voice translation. And the way you played with the screen, and foreground, and background, and yeah, beautiful. Thank you.

Anita: Congratulations. Thank you so much. What a perfect addition to our UP Awards?

Jess: Thank you very much. And I wanna thank our fabulous actors one more time, Vincent and E.J. And I would love to give them a chance to come on video and take a quick curtain call if that's acceptable?

Charles: If we can figure out the buttons, yes.

Jess: There we have Vincent, and here comes E.J.

Charles: Excellent. Now, this is applause, but how do you take the bow in the virtual environment?

Anita: It’s like you take it in the real environment.

Charles: Excellent. Thank you so much.

Anita: Thank you.

Charles: I know Shakespeare, at 11:00 A.M, isn't necessarily for everybody. I was delighted to get a part of it. And this is all part of the Universal participation initiative's idea around how can we model accessible features in these virtual spaces. It's not an easy third space for artists and creative practitioners to manipulate. But that's what I'm so interested in seeing. So, we think about pace, we think about communication, we think about description, translation, multiple languages. And so in this 35 minutes, we've done a little bit of all of that. So, thank you.

Anita: The best practices are being written as we speak. And being written right here on our UP Awards program. So, tomorrow is a big day, Charles. Very big day tomorrow. And everybody has to join. The suspense, the excitement builds, as we reacquaint ourselves with Abilities Dance, ArtsEmerson, Discovery Museum, Towering Hill, Botanical Garden, and Wheelock Family Theatre. These are all honorees. Incredible examples of inclusion. But one of them, tomorrow, will receive a special $10,000 investment from the Mass Cultural Council to continue their work. But, can't tell you who it is, not till tomorrow.

Charles: So tune in tomorrow. It's like a cliff hanger, yeah.

Anita: Yeah. Charles, thank you so much, Angelina, everybody, Jessica. Oh my gosh! What an amazing effort today? And as I said on Monday, we are wrestling this digital world into submission. I know Shakespeare would have had better words to say that. But it was words to that effect. Thanks all of you for being with us today, and see you tomorrow.

Friday 5 June
Presentation of the 2020 UP Award, with musical performance by Adrian Anantawan

 

Anita Walker: Good morning, I'm Anita Walker at the Mass Cultural Council. And welcome to the fifth day of our celebration of inclusion, the UP Awards. We have been building every day this week toward Friday. And today we build for a better future. I'm Anita Walker, executive director of Mass Cultural Council. I'm a woman in my 60s, I have shoulder length hair. I'm wearing a cream-colored top. And I have a block gold necklace that is I have to say made by a Massachusetts artist. With me is Charles Baldwin who is our program officer and leader of the UP program in Massachusetts. Charles, it has been an amazing week.

Charles Baldwin: Good morning, Anita. It has really been a great week. My name is Charles Baldwin, I am the program officer for the Universal Participation Initiative, what we call UP, I am an older white gentleman with a beard, glasses, and a mohawk. Today, to be a little more formal, I am wearing a blue coat. It's far too warm for the blue coat, but for this half-hour, it's an opportunity to display and model that I think sometimes the seriousness of this initiative. The work and the actions.

Anita: Serious and celebratory at the same time. Today, we're going to revisit the organizations that have shown exemplary work and inclusion, and we are going to tell you which of these organizations is receiving a $10,000 grant from the Mass Cultural Council to continue their work. You know, Charles, I've been thinking about this week. We talk about a lot of the critical characteristics of a successful UP program. They have leadership, they have commitment throughout the organization, they are persistent, and they act. But I have a riddle for you. Are you up for a riddle? Are you up for--

Charles: Oh, sure.

Anita: Can you be inclusive without being inclusive? Does inclusion require inclusion?

Charles: That is a riddle. But I would say yes. I mean, some of this work, which makes it so important, is there's a nimble quality that is necessary. Because, if you're working off a checklist and you think, access is merely around physical accoutrement, around the building, that's not enough. A key part of this is really identifying people who are experiencing barriers and dismantling them. So, inclusion is embedded in inclusion and should always be considered growing. Because as soon as you think you're done, someone else might knock on the door. And our responsibility is to be accessible to our communities.

Anita: That’s why we call the program UP. It's a direction. We specifically and intentionally designed this program not to have an end, but to be in a way infinite. Because we will always be finding ways to be better. You know, Charles, you, you really have brought this, this program to life in a way that I don't think anyone else could have. But it started just a few minutes before you joined us. And really, the catalytic event that brought UP into existence was a profound tragedy, much like what we're going through today. And it was the marathon bombings. We had been thinking a lot about doing something at the Mass Cultural Council to really amplify inclusivity. But there was a moment where we realized that it isn't about them and helping them. It's about us and it could be us at any moment in time, which is what we learned in the marathon bombing. So, this is about universal participation. It isn't about special things for special people, put the ramp in the back and you come in a different way. We'll have separate different programming. It's really about benefiting, when we benefit one person, we benefit all.

Charles: And I really believe that. I'm a great proponent of the history of this moment, recognizing who has been working to get us here. And, Judy Human, who, of course, is a little more famous now because of the film "Crip Camp," but has been a leader in the independent living movement. And her perspective on looking through the disability lens to identify these barriers and to help dismantle them really makes an accommodation and an inclusion that doesn't divide us by color, or gender, or size, or age, or ability. And I think that that is super important to recognize that this work, while it looks through the disability lens, is really about this intersectional approach to oppression.

Anita: And when I think about inclusion requiring inclusion, in order to be inclusive, it almost seems like well that is obvious, except that it doesn't seem to be obvious in reality. There are so many good intentions sitting around a board room table, or in an executive office and those intentions are embodied in people that look like you and me, Charles. At the table are not the people like you and me want to include. It's not possible to be authentic in this work without setting aside our own hubris, even our own best intentions and giving away our power and sharing it with others.

Charles: I think the success of this program is actually not about me. You have given me this platform, which is great. But what makes this program work are the artists that I have the opportunity to work with, to listen to, and enact. Because turning words into action is really what this is about. So that you can sit around the boardroom table and talk, talk, talk. But how do we get other people at that table? How do we get that table to have multiple levels so that varying people can sit in it? And who does or doesn't even need a chair? Who wants to stand? So, it's really recognizing, sometimes, that the table itself just to keep this metaphor going, that the table itself could be a barrier. And are there other ways to gather people, listen to them, and enact upon those words?

Anita: So Charles, part of our program is to provide resources, to help all of the good intentions and all of our amazing organizations. And I do want to pause a moment 'cause we've been focusing on a relatively small and exemplary group of organizations but we've got about seven organizations, 70, seven zero, 70 organizations that have raised their hands, that have stepped up, and have not just said, "We want to be inclusive, "we want to get the UP label." But they they're putting the work in.

Charles: They are, we've got about excuse me, about 70 different organizations that have raised their hand and said, "I want in." Some are organizations that by their very mission are doing the work. Some have said, "I need to learn more." So we provide an opportunity for both, to come in to this work, to activate the resources that we've identified that are really throughout the commonwealth. And I also have to say, I know there is good work being done out there that I would love to have the opportunity to amplify. And I also know that there are other organizations who are looking for that stewardship and the Mass Cultural Council's UP initiative can help provide that.

Anita: You do so much work in your learning networks. And I think being in it together, having a cohort, learning from each other, not in a shaming sort of way, "you're doing it wrong, here's the right way to do things," but in a "let's all help each other" way. Can you give us a little insight into what some of these workshops and some of your learning network convenings are like?

Charles: Well it's true. I am not a punitive person. I'm a come on, everybody, let's put on a show kind of guy. And I think that the successes actually comes from having lots of different people in the room. Our very diversity adds to the strength of this program, so that we are certainly looking at physical spaces, but we've been looking at digital spaces too. We also think about communication and information systems and how that environment can use a little help when we're thinking about access and how do we reach the most people? We definitely think about learning and how that needs to, again, reach a variety of people so that everyone has the opportunity to be the best they can be. I also really believe in artist-led initiatives, so the more times I have the opportunity to put an artist at the front of the room, so that everyone has this chance to co-create and imagine, because out of those imagination ideations, real concrete steps emerge. Steps that we may not even have identified as these are the steps towards access and inclusion, but they allow for risk. And I think that is something that we often miss out on when we're focused on bottom lines and just the day-to-day work of an organization.

Anita: It’s interesting to me having watched this over these years that we've been doing the UP program, is it's so many contradictions, so many opposing ideas at the same time. It's both tactical, do you have stickers on the windows so somebody doesn't actually walk through that piece of plate, that's very tactical. Do you have illumination on the stairs and some contrasting tape on the edge so that people don't go spilling down the stairs because they can't see where the edge is? So, there's tactical considerations that organizations share with each other and these networks. But you know the big piece is culture change. And culture change is patient change, it's slow change. And the contradiction here, or the opposing forces are our sense of urgency. We have to do something. We have to meet the moment. We can see right in front of us, it's taken too long, but it can't always be done fast.

Charles: It’s true. I think that we need to, this is why sometimes I described the UP program as both responsive and aspirational. Because we do need to navigate the immediate needs with the needs that we anticipate on the horizon. And navigating, or balancing between those two is of critical importance. And I think that when we gather in a room to discuss, or co-create, to think about next steps, we're thinking about the immediate steps that we can take, but we're always thinking about the horizon. And I think in many ways, that can empower our plurality, our distinctions, actually, allow us the diversity of ideas, diversity of actions, but we all have this idea that the horizon can be better, stronger, safer, and that's what's important.

Anita: I’m also thinking back to sort of the beginnings, scaffolding of our UP program. And one of the foundations is the Americans with Disabilities Act. One of the things that sort of made us know we needed to do something is we kept hearing from organizations when we would talk about the ADA, "Just tell me what I have to do. "Oh, there's so many rules and regulations." This thing that was born as a beacon felt like a burden in our field, felt like an obligation, felt like a bureaucratic set of big bathrooms and ugly ramps that we're gonna ruin the aesthetic quality of our building. And we knew that our field, which is creative, which is innovative, and which is aspirational, that is in our DNA, we're the field to re-excite people around this civil rights movement, which gave us the Americans with Disabilities Act, which is the foundation of the work, but use it not as the goal, not as the ceiling, but as the floor of the work. How do we take this and build on it?

Charles: I can't agree more. I think that, you know, civil rights actions under the ADA are the foundation for this work. But nothing against all of the work that our peers in government do, but when has near compliance been something a creative or artist wants to address? I want to go above and beyond, to be thinking about, again, the importance of our diversity and our differences allowing us to be a healthier, stronger, creative community. So, we've got that floor, but I always want to go above and beyond. And another reason why as far as acronyms go, I'm a big fan of UP.

Anita: Because you always want to go up, Charles. Before we get into, I want to revisit the amazing organizations we met this week. But before we do, for some of our listeners and viewers, there's more information that you can access from our website.

Charles: Yes, on this final day, we do want to encourage people to go to our website, look up MassCulturalCouncil.org/UPaward. It will give you access to the initiative, some of the challenges that we put out there, to get people thinking about interpretation, description. And also, there were resources with other organization that are out there. So do look at MassCulturalCouncil.org/UPaward, it has the organizations we work with, the goals of this initiative, and being a state agency, it does have an evaluation so that I can collect some data. Thank you.

Anita: Yes, we're bureaucrats at heart, nevertheless, aspirations notwithstanding. So Charles, let's take a little trip down memory lane since Monday. I wanted to walk through these amazing organizations that we got to meet. We got to visit with their leaders and we got to know a little bit better this week. And I want to ask you if you will just give us one reflection on each. One thing that we can all take away from our conversation, discussion, and familiarity with these organizations. And I'm gonna start with Abilities Dance.

Charles: Abilities Dance is a new and driving force in the dance world. I must say, they are under Ellice Patterson's leadership, they are redefining the choreograph gesture, how we look at space and place and even this idea of aesthetics, she really challenges the viewer and the listener to look deeply at really her work, which is dense and profound and strikingly beautiful.

Anita: ArtsEmerson?

Charles: ArtsEmerson has really, they have really boosted access to not only include the different enhancements and services that people with disabilities might need, but their approach is truly intersectional. They are putting marginalized voices center stage and they are activating their audiences to participate in it. It's a remarkable organization that has really become driven under the leadership of both David Dower, David House, and their wonderful team, strong group.

Anita: Our next organization, Discovery Museum.

Charles: Discovery Museum has got it going on. Their work with young children is imbued with universal design for learning techniques, before maybe even they had the language for that. Working with young children, thinking about early ed, thinking about child development is critically important for all of us. And they have really embraced the practices and principles of intentional inclusive design, wonderful organization.

Anita: Tower Hill Botanic Garden.

Charles: Tower Hill Botanic Garden, I was so excited to see that they were nominated because we do work with a number of organizations that have land and space, and the importance of nature, particularly as we look at the way the biodiversity is so important to an ecosystem, that is reflected in our human diversity as well. Their work has been so intentional after these last couple of years to really embrace the importance of getting outside. And beautiful work, and a wonderful, wonderful space.

Anita: And finally, Wheelock Family Theatre.

Charles: I promise not to go on and on about Wheelock Family Theatre, which for people who may not be in the know, I was involved with for many years. What I think is important about Wheelock is that from its very first day, inclusion model that was colorful, that was providing services, that put everybody on stage and backstage is truly reflected in their audience and all the work they do. Boston should be proud to have an organization like Wheelock Family Theatre still in its orders today.

Anita: And just a reminder, these are five of 70 similar organizations that are participating in our UP program. You know, Charles, as I listened to you, and I look at this list, I see this is a great diversity of organizations, botanical centers, and theatres, and dance companies. And I think about they're from all over the state, and they're all different sizes, large, medium, and small. There's such a great, diverse landscape for us to experiment and learn and work on how to be inclusive. But there are also commonalities. And when I look at these, I look at the strength of commitment, this leadership in these organizations. This not just talk, but translating intention into action and actual real things. And I also noticed, and this has kinda struck me, I think, this week in a way that it hasn't before, it's how comprehensive their work is. It isn't just sort of a token thing. We have this exhibit here or we're gonna do a thing over here. It is truly integrated and embedded into every part of the organization. And it sees the visitor in the audience from a place that begins before they leave the house.

Charles: What I love about all of these organizations, they do have the drive and the vision. So, from the President of the Board, to Sunday's volunteer, everyone understands. But also what resonates, and I think this really touches us upon, you know, these organizations were nominated by their peers in the UP initiative. And, the idea that we are continually learning. And that's not just internally on the inside of the organization, making sure that your staff and your Board and your volunteers are all on point, but they share with the field. So that it's not isolated, it does become part of a movement. And I think these five organizations were nominated this year really because they share their work. They're not separate from each other. They are involved in this movement to embrace inclusion and the actions that take us further along to a brighter horizon.

Anita: People may be wondering, so, who are these peers, and how are these organizations selected. So, the peers are people who are in our UP network. So they actually, it's kind of like the Oscars, they had to watch the movie. They really do know who these organizations are. This is when these organizations were selected, it was from a base of knowledge. Tell us about the panel who had to make these really, really difficult decisions.

Charles: I was overjoyed to have a very strong panel of artists and activists who were participating in the evaluation of, I think we ended up about with 16 nominations, and then we were able to get it down to eight just so that it was not a 10-hour program. But, Adrian Anantawan, who is a musician, who we will hear at the end of the program was on that panel. Maria Cabrera who used to be with the Museum of Science is a fantastic community organizer and engagement person, I had the opportunity to work with her, Ethan Linsky who works with Epic. Epic is a teen job program out of Triangle which works with youth and disabilities that is, again, integrating them into society. He also does improv comedy. So Ethan was there. Rhianon Gutierrez who works with the Boston Public School System in their digital learning, amazing woman, so strong. And I have to say I have gotten a few tips from her on this digital landscape, which has been super important. Additionally, Adrian, Maria, and oh, Amber Pearcy. Amber is a consultant who I had the opportunity to meet. She works for the Braille Press, but is really working the inroads with cultural organizations to think about inclusion and to think about the audience that doesn't see. Strong, upcoming consultant. Really happy to work with her.

Anita: Thank you so much, panelists, 'cause I know you did a lot of work, and it had to be a very, very difficult decision. But what an amazing group. Charles, we've also had this week tremendous guests and keynote speakers.

Charles: I have been delighted to, you know, this is a physical program in universal design. I didn't want to just tell people, I wanted to show people. And I had the opportunity, again, to meet and work alongside some wonderful artists. And, so, when we have the physical program, which turned into a virtual program, we were able to honor all of those requests. So, Precious Lopez from the Berkeley College was able to join us. She and her fiance, Shane Lowe. Caroline Whiddon from Me2/Orchestra was on Wednesday, beautiful performance. Honest, honest and authentic. Yesterday, we had Queen Mab which worked a performance from the tempest that is both in English and in ASL. Today we'll be joined by Adrian Anantawan who I see popped onto the screen. And of course a special shout out to Sara Minkara who gave the keynote. I have been wanting to work with her for a while, she runs a wonderful organization out of Cambridge, and she speaks her truth and she speaks something that all of us need to hear. So I was delighted that Sara Minkara was able to join us. Really strong program, strong artists, and activists.

Anita: So, Charles, the moment has arrived.

Charles: Yes.

Anita: I’ve been talking about one organization receiving a $10,000 grant. And we know that everyone who cares about justice and inclusion is feeling a certain level of pain in these current times. So, we're hoping that this honor, this recognition of this work, serves as both a balm to help ease us through that pain, but also fuel, to accelerate and excite the work, because it's more important now than ever before. So, we have five organizations, four of them will receive $1,000 grants from the Mass Cultural Council. And again our fifth organization will receive a $10,000 grant. And, Charles, we always, a little arm wrestle over the envelope. I think I have it in my hand.

Charles: I think, Anita, it's been a joy to co-host with you. I would like you to read it.

Anita: I would like to say first of all, exemplary work, we are in awe and bowed to the work of Wheelock Family Theatre, Tower Hill Botanic Garden, Discovery Museum, and ArtsEmerson, all of whom will receive a $1,000 grant from the Mass Cultural Council. And our $10,000 grant goes to Abilities Dance. Charles, would you introduce Ellice?

Charles: I am delighted, because I think she is a leader and a voice, her peers have designated her so, and I believe so as well. Please welcome Ellice Patterson of Abilities Dance, and congratulations.

Elice Patterson: Thank you and thank you to the Mass Cultural Council and my colleagues who have chosen to honor us with this prestigious award. We are so grateful to you and our community to be able to do and be recognized for this work. So, I had this whole thing prepared where I was going to say all of this, sound super hopeful of the future and how we can move forward together. But I'm tired of that corporate nonsense, you're tired of that corporate nonsense. Because, I mean, how many emails have we received from every entity ever with the subject line of, Black Lives Matter, or we stand in solidarity with the Black community with the same empty language? And how many of these organizations have Black representation or any representation of color in their Board of Directors or executive leadership? And do they even consult Black people in the writing of those emails? So, I'm going to pivot a little and say that the new theme of today is representation. Because representation is transformative. Our representation transforms words into action. Representation is equity. Representation is inherent in intersectional disability rights. And representation is Abilities Dance Boston. This whole organization was created on my personal experience of not being able to perform professionally elsewhere in the Greater Boston area. And honestly, I couldn't afford to move where the other integrated dance companies were, nor should I, because this is my home. And I wasn't seeing myself represented on stage. I wasn't seeing professional Disabled companies perform on stage, except the few times I had AXIS Dance Company from California would come into town. I wasn't seeing nearly enough Black and other dancers of color tell their stories in the larger venues like museums, for instance. And I definitely wasn't seeing the intersections of these identities like Black and Disabled, or Disabled, queer, non-binary first generation, or non-Disabled Chinese immigrant. So many more that should be given work opportunities because they're so inherent to the makeup of our state, our country and humanity. And so, Abilities Dance Boston was born on the few hundred dollars from tips working in a bar, and the vision of what I think Boston can be. And the work has been harder than I ever thought it would be. There have been so many challenges, and the overall challenge that I still have a separate full-time job like everyone else in the company since the budget is still considerably lower than the more established entities. But, we're so committed to this work, because you can tell when you come into our performances or workshops that this feels different. We're not just a dance company creating work for the sake of moving, I personally don't have that privilege, and if I move, there's intentionality behind it that ties into the overall movement. Nor is this a space to provide a platform so that people can express themselves and feel good about themselves. Yikes, hard no. Our professional performing company has adult artists from across the country and that includes Disabled and non-Disabled dancers and choreographers, musicians and composers of live audio description editor to ensure audio descriptions, which if you don't know, those are words that explain the movement to blind audiences so we're making sure those are to the community. Captioning for our Deaf and hard of hearing audiences and more, so that people are able to be paid for their work, because it is work, and challenge the antiquated ableist beliefs of what disability looks like and who gets to be represented. There's so much diversity within and outside the Disabled community because I want that representation to match what our society looks like. And most importantly, so the next generation can see versions of themselves on stage and never question if the dance space or any space is for them. Our community engagement program works with hospitals, universities, after-school programs, financial institutions, and more to have movement workshops or lectures on disability culture, intersectionality, entrepreneurship and more, so most importantly, lead to a conversation about making both of our spaces equitable for everyone. It's been my favorite experience because I'm able to connect with people and explain that this work is relevant to your work and to your community as we work together for a more equitable tomorrow. Our education program teaches adaptive ballet, modern, contemporary technique as there are still so many places in the area that won't teach us equitably so that we can train the next generation of dancers, and that also gives me hope for a more informed and more equitable future. So, big shout out to the 30 folks within the organization that do so much to make Abilities space, first space, and everyone's space. Thank you to everyone in our community that have held me especially this week but always year round. Thanks to my mother and grandmother who raised me to be the fierce person that you see today. And this award will help continue the work on an even bigger platform as we continue to make a better Massachusetts and beyond so that we all can finally breathe. Thank you.

Anita: Thank you so much, Ellice. That was absolutely powerful. And couldn't have been a better way to capture, what we've been trying, Charles and I, all week to capture and to share with our viewers and everyone. Ellice, you're amazing. Thank you, a big shout out to you. Charles, as usual, we tend to talk too much, you and I, so we want to keep moving forward. First of all, a thank you to everyone who has participated. Behind the scenes, Howlround who kept us on—

Charles: Big shout out to Howlround TV, the Theatre Commons, a really accessible, professional, wonderful organization, thank you, thank you.

Anita: Thank you to Angelina who is behind the scenes and has been handling all of our details from the Mass Cultural Council every day and the rest of the team back at Mass Cultural Council who's been promoting, marketing, pushing this out, and just being supportive every single day. And even the people in Charles's row who teaches him about the logic model which he reads with enthusiasm. But, Charles, I think a great way to complete our week is with art. Because John F. Kennedy said, "Art is not a form of propaganda, art is a form of truth." And I think truth is what we have been trying to speak during the course of the week. And the art speaks it better than anything.

Charles: Yes, we have and will run a little over, but I do hope that listeners and viewers will stay. Adrian Anantawan who is actually popped in here, thank you, Adrian, has provided some commentary and music that I couldn't think of a better way to close this program. He speaks eloquently and performs emotionally. It's a beautiful, beautiful way to end this program. So, again, a shout out to everyone who's been involved and all of the artists that we've had the opportunity to work with. I'm thrilled that peers, the panelists have chosen Ellice to receive this grant. Congratulations. And I guess now we will end with some beautiful music and some profound words from our friend and our colleague, Adrian Anantawan, thank you.

[A pre-recorded video plays.]

Adrian Anantawan: Hi there, my name is Adrian Anantawan. I am a violinist who lives in Massachusetts and I want to thank the Mass Cultural Council for having me here, at least virtually. And to congratulate all of the winners of the UP Award, and all of those who continue to do work around arts, equity, and inclusion. These are very difficult times in this nation. And originally I had completely different pieces to play for you. But I thought that these two pieces in particular that I'm going to play are powerful and resonant of the times. "Schindler's List," the theme, comes from this question of what is the value of human life? And the idea of hope that through suffering, if you can save one person, you save the world entire. And I think that's so important as we feel out of control and what can we do to be able to change entire systems? We can save one person, or we can help one person, we are helping the entire world. The second piece that I'm going to play is called "Salut d'Amour" by Edward Elgar, an English composer from the 19th century and this is a piece that I think consistently reminds me as we say farewell to those we love, there can still be tremendous beauty that is left in this world. So be well wherever you are, and, again, thank you for having me here, take care.

[For several minutes, Adrian plays the violin.]

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