Creative Activism: "Take Your Broken Heart, Make it Into Art"

The Business

New York

Creative Activism: "Take Your Broken Heart, Make it Into Art"

Lisa Dent, Stephen Duncombe, Charlotte Wells, Jason Odell Williams, Stefon Bristol

Thursday, May 25, 2017

7:00 PM
Check-in begins at: 6:15 PM

Authentic storytelling can be a powerful catalyst for incremental and large-scale social change. It can shed light on a perceived inequality or injustice, amplify muffled voices from marginalized populations, spark constructive dialogues on polarizing social issues, and foster community amongst a divided society. Join us for an evening with filmmakers, theater-creators, and arts programmers who have placed advocacy and civic engagement in the forefront of their work.  The panel will explore strategies for developing impactful stories; best practices for creating an effective call to action; and tips for navigating the risks, challenges, and criticism that often accompany provocative work. Learn about funding opportunities and other supportive programs and networks for artist-activists’ passion projects.

Estimated event end time: 8:30 PM


Lisa Dent 
As a member of the Creative Capital's senior management team, Dent leads the financial and advisory services programs and advises awardees regarding the full realization of their projects, providing strategic insight and connecting them to a wide range of internal and external resources. Previously, Dent served as the associate curator of contemporary art at the Columbus Museum of Art in Ohioheld curatorial staff positions at the New Museum of Contemporary Art and the Whitney Museum of American Art, and was a director at Friedrich Petzel Gallery in New York. From 2004-08, Dent owned and managed Lisa Dent Gallery in San Francisco, where she presented the work of emerging and mid-career international artists. She has also worked in film and the performing arts as a scenic designer, art director, and producer on numerous projects. She has taught courses in art history and production design at Cooper Union, University of California, Davis, Columbus College of Art and Design, and The Ohio State University. Dent received her BFA from Howard University, her MFA from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, and completed the Whitney Museum Independent Study Program in curatorial studies. She has served on several juries and committees and is currently a board member of Visual AIDS and Triple Canopy.

Charlotte Wells 
Charlotte “Charlie” Wells is a Scottish director living in New York. She is in her final year of the MBA/MFA program at NYU. Her first film Tuesday premiered at Encounters Short Film and Animation Festival in Bristol, U.K. in 2016 and was nominated for two BAFTA Scotland New Talent Awards – Best Writer and Best Design (winner). Her second film, Laps, won a Short Film Special Jury Prize for Editing at Sundance Film Festival and Special Jury Recognition for Narrative Shorts at SXSW Film Festival 2017.

Charlie is currently in post-production on her thesis short about a debt collector working on Christmas Eve in Edinburgh in 1970 and is writing her first feature about a young father and his ten-year-old daughter on vacation on a half-built holiday resort in the Mediterranean. She has produced a variety of projects including shorts, music videos, and critically acclaimed web series F to 7th. She spent the summer of 2015 assisting on Wiener-Dog, written/directed by Todd Solondz and produced by Megan Ellison and Christine Vachon. Prior to NYU, Charlotte was Managing Director of The Digital Orchard, a DIT agency and workflow consultancy based in London where she oversaw the company's business strategy, financial planning, and day-to-day operations, negotiating deals on feature films such as Maleficent, Jack Ryan, and Locke. Charlotte received a first-class honors degree in Classics from King’s College London and a master’s with distinction from University of Oxford. 

Jason Odell Williams
Jason is an Emmy Award nominated writer and producer (Brain Games) as well as an Ovation Award-nominated  playwright. His latest play, Church & State, was produced as a National New Play Network Rolling World Premiere at The Skylight Theatre in L.A. and JCC CenterStage in Rochester, NY. His play Handle With Care (published by Dramatists Play Service) was a New York Times Critics’ Pick and ran for over 100 performances Off-Broadway. The play has been produced 21 times in the last five years in the U.S. and Canada. Other plays: Baltimore in Black & White (the cell theatre); Someone Else (NC Stage); The Science of Guilt (The DR2); Going Offline (Fells Point Corner Theatre); The Jungle Gym (American Globe Theatre). Readings: Primary Stages, The Blank Theatre, The Lark and EST. Jason's first novel, Personal Statement, was optioned for a three-picture deal and he is currently adapting it for the screen with his wife and collaborator Charlotte Cohn.

Stefon Bristol 
Brooklyn-born, Long Island-bred, Stefon Bristol is writing his own success story as a fresh face with a creative voice in the indie film world. Stefon is an award-winning filmmaker and recent alumnus of NYU's Graduate Film Program. Stefon's gift is his ability to go deep with his characters; peeling back the layers of a character that looms larger than life and revealing what makes them relatable to audiences in a manner that is both authentic and captivating. While at NYU, Stefon helmed five films including the Cine Golden Eagle Award winner The Bodega. Spike Lee, a longtime mentor, awarded Stefon with the 2016 Spike Lee Production Grant for See You Yesterday, a poignant, sci-fi short film. See You Yesterday is also being adapted into a feature film produced by Spike Lee. 

Moderator – Stephen Duncombe 
Stephen Duncombe is a Professor at the Gallatin School and the Department of Media, Culture and Communications of New York University where he teaches the history and politics of media. He is the author of Dream: Re-Imagining Progressive Politics in an Age of Fantasy and Notes From Underground: Zines and the Politics of Underground Culture, co-author of The Bobbed Haired Bandit: Crime and Celebrity in 1920s New York, editor of the Cultural Resistance Reader, and co-editor of White Riot: Punk Rock and the Politics of Race. He is the creator of the Open Utopia, an open-access, open-source, web-based edition of Thomas More’s Utopia, and co-created, a user-generated digital database of creative activism case studies. Duncombe also writes on the intersection of culture and politics for a range of scholarly and popular publications. In 1998, he was awarded the Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching by the State University of New York, where he taught before coming to New York University, and in 2012 was awarded the Dean’s Award for Excellence in Teaching at Gallatin. Duncombe is a life-long political activist, co-founding a community based advocacy group in the Lower East Side of Manhattan and working as an organizer for the NYC chapter of the international direct action group, Reclaim the Streets. In 2009, he was a Research Associate at the Eyebeam Center for Art and Technology in New York City, where he helped organize The College of Tactical Culture. With funding from the Open Societies Foundations he co-created the School for Creative Activism in 2011, and is presently co-director of the Center for Artistic Activism. Duncombe is currently working on a book on the art of propaganda during the New Deal.

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