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2021 Segal Awards for Civic Engagement in the Arts

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Jan 22, 2022
Jan 22, 2022
Live Stream

Civic Engagement in the Arts

Since the outbreak of the Corona Pandemic, the Segal Theatre Center has presented a series of public talks during The Time of Corona with over 300 artists and institutions from over 50 countries. The aim of the initiatives presented were to introduce artistic projects and concepts that develop a new perspective on social and institutional developments in the field of art, especially performance art.

In New York, a selection of 10 pioneering projects will now be honoured with Segal Center Awards for Civic Engagement in the Arts. In this way, the Segal Center honours individuals and groups who have demonstrated exceptional achievement in the field of the arts during Corona 2020/21.​

The Segal Center Award for Civic Engagement in the Arts was originally established to recognise individuals who have made an exceptional contribution to civic discourse and have had a real impact on contemporary theatre and performance in New York City. In The Time of Corona, the Segal Center decided to honour global theatre and performance artists who have become agents of change in 2020 and 2021.

Please join us HERE for a short ceremony to honor this year’s recipients on
January 22nd at 12pm ET, New York time, on HowlRound.com




Hope Azeda is one of the leading figures in contemporary Rwandan theatre. She is the founder, artistic director of Mashirika Creative and Performing Arts, a leading theatre company in Rwanda–and also the curator for Ubumuntu Arts festival created for “the sake of humanity.” During The Time of Corona Azeda created daily online programming for three months connecting her community and the world dubbed 100 stories of home prior to two virtual festivals themed ‘Stop, Breath, Live’ 2020 and ‘Rebirth’ 2021 Additionally, she migrated site-specific outdoor performances to digital platforms
 Emmanuel Demarcy-Mota, Théâtre de la Ville: Poetic Consultations, Paris(France)
Since the first lockdown more than 200 actors, musicians, dancers and scientists from France, Europe, Asia and Africa gathered under the direction of Demarcy-Mota to offer “Poetic Consultations” over the phone to isolated audiences around the globe. It begins with a simple question: “How are you?” Based on the answer a poem, a dance or a piece of music is selected by the artist as a “Poetic Prescription” and shared another day over the phone⁠— from the home of the artist, in the streets, public gardens of the city, or anywhere. Initiated to fight isolation, to provide work for artists, and to stay in touch with old and new audiences soon “Poetic Consultations” soon took also place in-person in hospitals, schools, universities and social centers. Already 25,000 people from all around the world have taken part. – Book your poetic consultation HERE.
Also notable: Demarcy-Mota’s Arts + Science Initiative & Art + Health Programs.
Students & Faculty of Freeszfe Society: OCCUPY SZFE, Budapest (Hungary)
In the summer of 2020 students and faculty of the SZFE University of Theatre and Film of Budapest stood up against nationalist-populist Viktor Orbán’s autocratic regime’s attack to take control of the country’s most prestigious art school. First, the institution’s full leadership resigned, then students occupied the iconic downtown building of the university. A newly formed self-governing student body organized the most powerful and creative protest movement in recent history against Orbán. Occupy SZFE, in the dark shadow of the pandemic, eventually had to give up the blockade after 71 days, when the devastating second wave of COVID hit. They continue to fight. In 2021 part of the faculty and students formed Freeszfe Society where they continue their artistic and educational work. Watch a discussion with Hanna Milovits, Laszlo Upor and Andras Forgach during the occupation HERE.
Abhishek Majumdar & Tanvi Shah; Sajal Mondal: HowlRound for India, Bangalore (India)
Next to his artistic work playwright, theatre director, and scenographer Abhishek Majumdar worked night shifts for months to connect fellow citizens without access to the internet to hospitals. Together with his group, he bought broken respirators, repaired them and organized oxygen tanks, and distributed food for starving fellow citizens. Mumbai-based theatre director/dramaturg T​anvi Shah initiated a crowdfunding relief effort with her frontline doctor-father during the second wave, donating medical equipment and distributing food rations across urban and rural India. With Majumdar, she co-curated and produced ‘A HowlRound for India​’, a 24-hour marathon with over 100 theatre artists from 30 countries to talk about the pandemic’s impact on the global artist community. Freelance theatre activist and director Sajal Mondal, based in West Bengal, led efforts under extreme Corona conditions to distribute food and to rebuild housing that had been destroyed by the cyclone in an area of extreme poverty.
Chris Myers, Anticapitalism for Artists, New York (US)
During lockdown, the OBIE-Award winning New York actor created and lead a 9 week-long donation-based mixed-media course designed to create a space for artists to engage with a radical class education in the service of enriching their lives as both artists and in their movement work. The course has since reached some 200+ artists and expanded into a community with on-going offerings and events.
Thomas Oberender: Down to Earth, Berlin (Germany)
Down to Earth” was an unplugged exhibition whose rooms also featured a daily program by experts of change. The topic of climate change was not only reflected in the exhibits, but led to a different kind of behavior: the exhibition used no electricity, no flights, all consumption was sustainable and transparent. Various communities, artists, philosophers and activists thus developed a different kind of exhibition format that radically changed the operating system of our classical cultural institutions for a short time. “Down to Earth“, initiated by Thomas Oberender, was curated collectively and was part of the multi-year program “Immersion“.

Milo Rau/NTGent/IIPM: The School of Resistance, Gent (Belgium)

In search of strategies of artistic resistance, Milo Rau the NTGent and IIPM – International Institute of Political Murder founded a globally networked “School of Resistance” as a hybrid livestream debate series. As a symbolic institution of the future, the initiative examines aesthetic practices of resistance. Activists and artists discuss art as a transformative, reality-creating practice.
In 2021 also of importance: Rau’s film „The New Gospel“, his Theater of the Real project “The Congo Tribunal – The Kolwezi Hearings“, the UNESCO-NTGent created project „A filmschool for Mosul“ and his Golden Book V “Why Theatre?” where Rau in his role as an editor asks 100 of the most influential artists and intellectuals in the world during The Time of Corona the fundamental question: Why?
Papermoon Puppet Theatre, Yogyakarta​ (Indonesia)
Papermoon Puppet Theatre created a global conversation series with puppeteers as well as the virtual international puppet festival PESTA BONEKA#7. During The Time of Corona Papermoon created STORY TAILOR: ordinary citizens could commission the company to create small puppet plays for health care workers, family members and loved ones. Papermoon also also send puppet DIY kits to its audience members and taught online workshops how to make and how to use them.
Pamela Villoresi, Teatro Biondo Stabile di Palermo, Palermo (Italy)​
Pamela Villoresi, the Italian actress and Direttore of Teatro Biondo Stabile in Palermo, was the first in Italy to initiate daily online presentations once lockdown began, creating employment and compensation to local and regional theatre artists. The city’s mayor Leoluca Orlando asked what the city can do for its artists, and not what the artists should do for the city. His administration created a safe haven for immigrants and theatre artists in a town where there are “no foreigners, only citizens of Palermo”. Professore Giovanni Puglisi is President of Teatro Biondo; Associates are the Comune di Palermo, the Regione Siciliana and the Fondazione Teatro BIondo. Curator and producer Elizabeth Hayes brings her global connections.
Kirill Serebrennikov, Gogol Center, Moscow (Russia)
The celebrated Russian stage and screen director Kirill Serebrennikov was convicted by Russian State Authorities in an embezzlement case seen as retribution for his politically charged work–and he had been forced out of the Moscow theatre he led for eight years. After a long house arrest Serebrennikov ultimately returned to the Gogol Theatre, an extraordinary theatre with open doors that serves breakfast, takes the education of young audiences serious and where actors meet audiences after each show in the cafeteria. During lockdown in 2021 Serebrennikov exclusively zoom-directed Wagner’s Parsifal for the Vienna State Opera with hundreds of participants in daily 10 hour shifts well over a month.​
Special Mention: HowlRound Theatre Commons, Boston (US)
HowlRound.com is a free and open platform for theatremakers worldwide that amplifies progressive, disruptive ideas about the art form and facilitates connection between diverse practitioners. HowlRound envisions a theatre landscape where resources and power are shared equitably in all directions—contributing to a more just and sustainable world. Based at Emerson College in Boston, Mass. Over 3,000 livestreams and 4,000 essays have been published and archived on HowlRound since 2011. HowlRound is: Ciara Diane, Hannah Fenlon, Jacqueline Flores, Jamie Gahlon, Ashley Malafronte, Vijay Mathew, Deen Rawlins-Harris, Joshua Robinson, Thea Rodgers, and Abigail Vega.
Lifetime Award: Anne Cattaneo, Lincoln Center Theater Directors Lab,New York (US)
We celebrate the astounding work and legacy of the Lincoln Center Theater Directors Lab, a global program for emerging directors from many theatrical traditions.  Since the inaugural lab in 1995, Cattaneo has nurtured the talents of over 1,500 emerging directors from over 50 countries and 40 states in the US through workshops, shared sessions, rehearsals, and discussions with master artists. She has co-edited the theater’s literary rmagazine The Lincoln Center Theater Review with playwright John Guare since 1990.
Also notable: Cattaneo’s book The Art of Dramaturgy, published in 2021 by Yale University Press.