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The Brooklyn Conference: Inspiring Social Change

Please check back for the latest program updates!

Purchase tickets. Some of the Saturday programs have limited capacity and require a separate ticket. Tickets will be available at registration on a first-come, first-served basis.

DAY 1: Friday, October 20, 2017

9:30–11:15 am

Opening Performance
Marc Bamuthi Joseph

Welcome and Introductory Remarks
Anne Pasternak, Shelby White and Leon Levy Director, Brooklyn Museum
Tom Healy, writer and Guest Curator, Brooklyn Museum

“If There’s a Heaven, I Can’t Find a Stairway”: Can Art Create a Way Forward?
Cultural critic Touré in conversation with rap artist Tariq “Black Thought” Trotter of The Roots. They discuss creative responsibilities, artistic imagination, and staying inspired as artists, thinkers, and global citizens.

Kirsten Gillibrand, U.S. Senator from New York, in conversation with Anne Pasternak, Shelby White and Leon Levy Director, Brooklyn Museum, on the awesome impact of one person, one change, or one story.

When Does Practice Become the Real Thing?: A Talk on Community Benefits
Roberta Uno, Director, Arts in a Changing America, gives a talk on best practices and effective strategies for creating inclusive and dynamic cultural communities. How do we shift institutional priorities, build equitable relationships, and encourage accountability?

Creative Resistance: The Role of the Artist
Paola Mendoza, filmmaker and Artistic Director, Women’s March on Washington, speaks on how artists can help drive change through cultural creation, connecting people through their common humanity.

11:30 am–1:25 pm

Across the Line: Changing Culture with Virtual Reality
Dawn Laguens, Executive Vice President and Chief Brand Experience Officer, Planned Parenthood, in conversation with Lindsey Taylor Wood, Founder and President, The Helm. This conversation explores how Planned Parenthood uses art and such new media as virtual reality to tell stories, expand their reach, and inspire change. Through these creative strategies they focus not only on policy victories but on changing the culture of shame and stigma around women’s sexual and reproductive health.

Can Politicians Think Like Artists?
A conversation among artists Hank Willis Thomas and Marc Bamuthi Joseph, and Neera Tanden, President, Center for American Progress, moderated by Tom Healy. They unpack what artists and policy-makers may be able to learn from each other as creative dissenters and boundary-pushers.

Everyday Creativity: Making Change in Communities
A conversation among Kemi Ilesanmi, Executive Director, The Laundromat Project; Ebony Noelle Golden, Founder and CEO, Betty’s Daughter Arts Collaborative; and Sade Lythcott, CEO, National Black Theatre, moderated by Adjoa Jones de Almeida, Director of Education, Brooklyn Museum. Three community arts leaders get together to discuss the complexities and transformative power of their local practices and initiatives in New York City, amplifying the link between creativity, imagination, and neighborhood well-being.

Amplifier: Hear Our Voice
Cleo Barnett, artist, curator, and Program Director, Amplifier, gives a brief talk on making art specifically for movement-building and harnessing the power of positive propaganda for elevating voices, including working with the Women’s March on Washington.

How to Build a Movement
Linda Sarsour and Bob Bland, national co-chairs of the Women’s March on Washington, reflect on the massive global success of the January 21, 2017, protest and the ongoing effort to sustain momentum for intersectional women’s rights. Moderated by Carmen Hermo, Assistant Curator, Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art, Brooklyn Museum.

1:25–2:30 pm

2:30–4:20 pm

Planting Seeds for Communities of Change
Alvin Starks, Senior Program Officer, Open Society Foundations, in conversation with Anjali Kumar, Chief People Officer and General Counsel, Cheddar Inc., and William Floyd, Head of External Affairs, Google New York and California; moderated by Rashida Bumbray, Senior Program Manager of Arts Exchange, Open Society Foundations. Members of philanthropic foundations and the corporate and start-up sectors discuss how the arts can help institutions create a culture of engagement that supports social justice and helps communities thrive.

Faith and Social Change in Brooklyn
Rabbi Rachel Timoner, Congregation Beth Elohim in Park Slope, and Reverend Eric Thomas, Interim Pastor, Siloam Presbyterian Church in Bed-Stuy, discuss spiritual life in Brooklyn with Joyce S. Dubensky, CEO, Tanenbaum Center for Interreligious Understanding, with particular attention to belonging, allyship, safety, and self-expression.

Our Bodies Ourselves: Advocacy through Feminist Filmmakers
Pamela Berger and Jane Pincus, founders of the trailblazing women's health organization Our Bodies Ourselves, unite with Julie Childers, OBOS Executive Director, and Ayesha Chatterjee, OBOS Global Project team, to present their work—remarkable for its longevity—and an intergenerational discussion of feminist activism, including a screening of vintage films from the Global Women’s Health Movement.

Black Lives Matter: The Future of a Movement
CNN political commentator Sally Kohn interviews Alicia Garza, co-founder of #BlackLivesMatter, on systemic racism, the movement, rage, and hope.

4:35–6:15 pm

Making Brooklyn Well: Designing Healthy Communities for Everyone
Richard Cook, co-founder of COOKFOX architecture firm, and Brenda Rosen, President and CEO, Breaking Ground, discuss the intersection of design and community wellness. They unpack strategies for supporting mental and physical health through connections to nature in the built environment, and the efficacy of good design to create safety and security for Brooklyn’s most vulnerable citizens.

Open Access: A Creative Practice
Canadian social practice artist Carmen Papalia presents on the empathic possibilities of his work, which has been described as an “open-sourcing of his own access . . . making visible the opportunities for learning and knowing through the non-visual senses.”

Indigenous Art and Organizing: A Conversation on Policy, Practice, and Representation
Jodi Gillette, former advisor to President Obama; Kevin Gover, Director, National Museum of the American Indian; and artist Jeffrey Gibson discuss the ethics of representing and supporting indigenous art, history, and culture. They share lessons learned and strategies for ensuring inclusion, growth, and exchange among institutions, artistic communities, and governments. Moderated by Catherine Morris, Sackler Senior Curator, Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art, Brooklyn Museum.

The Fight for Opportunity: Immigration Now
Tania Bruguera, artist and inaugural Artist-in-Residence of the NYC Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs, joins Murad Awawdeh, Vice President of Advocacy, New York Immigration Coalition, and artist Felipe Baeza for a discussion of political challenges facing New York’s immigrant communities and the creative possibilities of Arte Útil, or “useful art.”

6:30–8:15 pm

The Value of Storytelling in Education with performances from SLUT: The Play and Now That We're Men
Teacher, writer, and director Katie Cappiello and Beau Willimon, playwright and creator of House of Cards, explore the fusion of theater arts and activism in education and the active benefits of the theater as a space to encourage challenging conversations on topics like gender norms and sexual assault.

I Can’t Breathe: A Reflection
Artist and performer Shaun Leonardo presents a performative reflection and meditation on self-preservation, aggression, and the fight to survive in over-policed communities of color. Conducted in memory of Philando Castile, Alton Sterling, Freddie Gray, Walter Scott, Eric Garner, Jamar Clark, Laquan McDonald, Michael Brown, Akai Gurley, Ramarley Graham, Tamir Rice, Trayvon Martin… and countless others.

Who Says Who We Are? The Ethics of Representation
Claudia Rankine, poet, essayist, and founder of The Racial Imaginary Institute (TRII); artist Sam Durant; Coco Fusco, artist, writer, and professor; and Antwaun Sargent, writer and art critic, approach a topic of recent museological and political urgency, tackling the ethics of representation, the current state of racial and identity politics in the art world, and the repercussions of visual culture.

Closing Remarks
Anne Pasternak, Shelby White and Leon Levy Director, Brooklyn Museum

Concluding Performance
The Resistance Revival Chorus

Reception, Rubin Pavilion, 1st Floor

Day 2: Saturday, October 21, 2017

11:15 am–12:45 pm Mirror/Echo/Tilt, Robert E. Blum Gallery, 1st Floor
A performative workshop led by Melanie Crean and developed by Shaun Leonardo, Melanie Crean, and Sable Elyse Smith focused on questioning and shifting the American concept of criminality. Attendees engage in short physical storytelling exercises to explore how ideas of criminality are represented in popular media as well as everyday social exchange.

11:15 am–12:45 pm ArtChangeUS Presents: Grounding from Knowing, Luce Center for American Art, 5th Floor
How can we imagine change without understanding our present and past relationship to place and land? This workshop focuses on where we are—Lenapehoking—the Lenape homeland. It is not a history lesson, but rather an exploration of how to build relationships with land and place so that we are better able to extend care and enliven true change.

11:15 am–12:45 pm Creative Resistance, Beaux-Arts Court, 3rd Floor
Join Paola Mendoza, Artistic Director, Women’s March on Washington, and Sarah Sophie Flicker, cultural organizer and activist, for an intimate roundtable about the role of artists in resisting injustice. They discuss lessons learned from the Women's March and how they use art to combat oppression and marginalization. Brainstorming sessions, break-out groups, and sharing of ideas to follow.

11:30 am–12:15 pm We Shouldn’t Have Policies That We are Afraid to Talk About, Cantor Auditorium, 3rd Floor
Artist and activist Laurie Jo Reynolds presents a dynamic talk that considers state responses to sexual abuse and violence, examining unintended consequences of public registration, notification laws, and related restrictions. Q&A with audience members follows.

11:30 am­–12:30 pm; 12:30–1:30 pm; 2–3 pm Amplify Your Voice: Silkscreening Protest Art, Rubin Pavilion, 1st Floor
Amplifier, the organization that flooded the streets with images of hope during the Inauguration and Women’s March, offers a screenprinting workshop and discusses how images can be used to fuel movements. Participants get to screen-print their own protest poster.

11:30 am–1 pm Film Retrospective of the Global Women’s Health Movement, Sackler Center, Forum, 4th Floor
In this session, Our Bodies Ourselves founders present the films Abortion (1971) and Jane: An Abortion (1995) and lead a post-screening discussion.

12:30–2 pm; 3:30–5 pm D.I.Y. Zine-Making, Beaux-Arts Court, 3rd Floor
Before the internet there were zines. Learn about the history of zines and their political engagement, with artists from New York’s Con Artist Collective, which invites participants to make their own zines.

1–2 pm Google’s Love Letters, Cantor Auditorium, 3rd Floor
MALIKA SAADA SAAR and others to be announced
Join Malika Saada Saar, Google's Senior Counsel on Civil and Human Rights, for a video presentation and discussion of Google’s project partnering with criminal justice reform groups to connect kids with their incarcerated parents.

1:30–3 pm Film Retrospective of the Global Women’s Health Movement, Sackler Center, Forum, 4th Floor
Our Bodies Ourselves founders present La Operación (1982), a seminal documentary by filmmaker Ana María García on the mass sterilization of Puerto Rican women in the 1950s and 1960s, and leads a post-screening discussion with a focus on contemporary activism.

1:30–4:30 pm Staging Change: The Fusion of Theater Arts and Activism, Robert E. Blum Gallery, 1st Floor (free teen workshop)
This free hands-on workshop led by playwright Katie Cappiello guides teens in the creation of plays grounded in social justice themes. Through acting exercises, group discussion, and creative writing, teens collaborate to devise original performance pieces that shed light on the challenges they and their peers face locally, nationally, and even worldwide.

2–3:30 pm The Laundromat Project Presents: We the News, Beaux-Arts Court, 3rd Floor
Join the Laundromat Project’s 2017 Bed-Stuy Create Change artist-in-residence Lizania Cruz for a discussion and hands-on zine-making workshop from her project We the News, based on the idea of sanctuary. Lizania co-creates spaces of sanctuary through the use of language, personifying the role storytelling plays in uniting, empowering, and building community.

2–4:30 pm Film: New York Premiere of Winnie (2017), Cantor Auditorium, 3rd Floor
The Brooklyn Conference in partnership with the March on Washington Film Festival proudly presents the New York premiere of Winnie (2017), directed by Pascale Lamche, followed by a conversation with Gay McDougall, U.N. Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, and others to be announced. This is the untold story of the mysterious forces that combined to take down Winnie Mandela, who fought on the front line and underground against apartheid in South Africa while her husband Nelson Mandela served a life sentence. In the end, Nelson was labeled a saint and Winnie a sinner.

3:30–5 pm Open Access, Sackler Center, Forum, 4th Floor
In reaction to his own challenges in receiving institutional disability support services, artist and disability activist Carmen Papalia developed a new, relational model for accessibility called Open Access. In this participatory discussion-based workshop, Papalia introduces participants to the Open Access framework and discusses his experiences organizing for accessibility and mutual aid.

4:30–5 pm The Dream Unfinished Orchestra Performance, Cantor Auditorium, 3rd Floor
Join us for a performance by activist orchestra The Dream Unfinished.

4:30–5:15 pm Artist’s Eye: Natalie Frank and Zoë Buckman, Sackler Center, 4th Floor
This series of intimate, in-gallery talks by contemporary artists illuminates our special exhibitions with fresh and alternative perspectives. Artists Natalie Frank and Zoë Buckman respond to Roots of “The Dinner Party”: History in the Making.

5–6 pm Hewing a Stone of Hope from the Mountain of Despair: The Art of a New Politics, Cantor Auditorium, 3rd Floor
For the concluding talk of the conference, writer and New York Times columnist Charles M. Blow, Ambassador Patrick Gaspard, Vice President, Open Society Foundations, and Brittany Packnett, Vice President, National Community Alliances for Teach For America, are in conversation about the interplay of the creative imagination and practical politics. How is the society we actually build shaped by the worlds we can imagine? 

Generous support for The Brooklyn Conference has been provided by Open Society Foundations.