This season, our first cohort of Fellows are collaborating on projects ranging from building community investment in arts entrepreneurship to confronting personal violence through performance. Nearly all have founded organizations, produced or commissioned new work. Each has a distinctive voice and clear personal mission. We believe these versatile and inventive arts leaders and activists are the way forward.
An American immigrant from Armenia, Anush believes that art does not discriminate.
"No matter where you are from and what challenges your life has presented, art is there to transform it into something potentially beautiful. And ultimately, into something others can relate to, allowing empathy to grow."
Mentored by corinne winters
Lucy is founder of Resonant Bodies, a festival of contemporary music that invites vocalists to curate their own 45-minute sets in the United States, Canada, and Australia.
"With my festival, I am creating a platform for artists to have autonomy, respect, and a place for growth – a place to direct the narrative about who they are at this artistic juncture. I don’t want to just hope for a better future – I want empowerment."
Mentored by Kristin Atwell Ford
Teagan is founder of the Red Shoe Company, a collective that combines music, dance, visual art, and scientific discovery to educate and engage Midwestern audiences.
"I believe we are all here to serve our community. Originally, I assumed an artist's main job is to put out happiness and creative thought into the world. Now I believe that the arts are responsible for encouraging critical thought. Giving everyone an opportunity to learn the basics and to feel like they have the knowledge to enjoy art gives our community more opportunities to come together as one people."
Mentored by Anne Francis Bayless & Rebecca McFaul
Jamil is a director and producer who believes in using his art to actively challenge, heal, affirm, and empower his community.
“Creating art without intentionally involving the community makes the work flat. And artists, especially those who make ephemeral work like theatre, have a chance to create community with each project. At each organization I produce for, I find ways to create thematic links between the art on stage and contemporary challenges facing the community. We use those links to host community conversations where we bring people together to grapple with these issues in hopes of finding solutions to create a more equitable society.”
Mentored by avery willis hoffman
Andrew is the founder of DC Strings, which strives to prove that access to excellence in music is an essential human right.
“DC Strings is not making music for the sake of music – we speak to the moment. Our concerts and experiences for patrons provide a space to dissect and discuss our city’s challenges in intimate ways. We also create opportunities for musicians, composers, and conductors. For me, there is unspeakable joy in challenging assumptions, biases, and stereotypes to present a more complete portrait of what classical music looks like.”
Mentored by alysia lee
Sueann believes nuanced costume design can contribute to normalizing the experiences of marginalized people, helping to dismantle unfounded fear and antagonism.
“With my background in Gender Studies, I costume design as a means to explore identity and expression. I utilize my art as a powerful tool to bring humanity and truth to the characters I design for. I enjoy thinking of the characters as real people – influenced by their gender, race, class, and age – who make real choices about how to dress and present themselves to the world. The very heart of my work is to humanize and respectfully represent people – especially queer people of color.”
Mentored by jessica jahn
Felicia values visibility and representation – on- and off-stage.
“I am a plus-sized performing artist. After spending far too much of my life trying to appear ‘normal’, I now live my life in a way that is full of pride and respect for my body. Performing is my way to share joy, and my way to share women’s strength. I want to tell stories onstage so that those in the audience who have bodies like mine can feel seen and heard. I believe diverse representation will help our way of storytelling stay relevant and powerful.”
Mentored by heidi melton
Frances is a composer whose music examines social issues through collaboration outside of traditional academic circles.
“Even as a teenager, I was profoundly invested in understanding the role of race and economic class in America. In Winston-Salem, I worked at the Innocence Project, with people who were recently released from the prison system. In New York City, I worked with men that had spent 25+ years in Sing-Sing Prison and helped create a platform for them to tell their stories. These experiences not only inform my music, but they provide me with communities of people that I am eager to work with in the future.”
Mentored by kamala sankaram
Rehanna is a mezzo-soprano who believes storytelling is a form of therapy, and that live performance can help audience members experience their world in a new way.
“To be able to express myself on stage is a sense of freedom that I don’t often get in my everyday life, and to be able to captivate others with that is incredibly powerful. As a black woman, I am often not heard as loudly as others. When I sing, if I can show my fellow sisters that I can command a room, they can rise and do the same.”
Mentored by jamie barton
Illinois & Pennsylvania
Elena and Melissa are the founders of Intermission, a company that teaches musicians yoga techniques to support the demanding physicality and emotional undertaking of performance.
"As artists, we understand intrinsically that what we do effects positive change in the world at large. But without knowing how to refuel ourselves after giving so much to our audiences, the demanding lives we lead can begin to present major personal challenges. With Intermission, we hope to teach self-compassion, gentleness, and body awareness – allowing artists to nurture positive change within themselves that they may then radiate outward into the world."