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Ato Blankson-Wood, Asmeret Ghebremichael & More to Take Part in Broadway Advocacy Coalition's Arts in Action Festival

Ato Blankson-Wood, Asmeret Ghebremichael & More to Take Part in Broadway Advocacy Coalition's Arts in Action Festival

Titled “We Tell The Story”, the culminating event of the Arts in Action Festival is a one-night-only celebration of arts advocacy featuring music, dance & spoken word.

Broadway Advocacy Coalition has announced additional details about the final performance of its first annual Arts in Action Festival, set to take place at 7pm on Sunday, July 24 at the Manhattan School of Music (130 Claremont Avenue) in New York City.

The evening is free to the public and will feature performances by award winning artists alongside directly impacted advocates including Ato Blankson-Wood (Tony nominee Slave Play), Asmeret Ghebremichael (Book of Mormon, Legally Blonde), Nora Schell (Jagged Little Pill) and Kara Young (Tony nominee Clyde's). The evening will also feature work by Pulitzer Prize winner Lynn Nottage, Tony Meneses, Ben Wexler (Jonathan Larson Grant Winner) and many others.

Titled "We Tell The Story", the culminating event of the Arts in Action Festival is a one-night-only celebration of arts advocacy featuring a powerful collection of music, dance, spoken word and monologue, including the world premiere of a collaboration between the Parole Preparation Project and activist and singer-songwriter Arianna Afsar (Sony's Lyle Lyle Crocodile, We Won't Sleep).

Hosted by artist-activist Liza Jessie Peterson (Drama Desk Award nominated The Peculiar Patriot) and nationally recognized advocate Khalil Cumberbatch, each piece in the night is created by or in collaboration with leaders who are impacted by the criminal justice system.

The performance features work and words by Afsar, Andrea Ambam, Sterling Cunio, Sarah Dahnke, Dushaan Gillum, Kenyatta Hughes, Zhailon Levingston (Chicken and Biscuits), Tony Meneses (Soho Rep Writer/Director Lab), Lynn Nottage (Pulitzer Prize Winner for Ruined), Dunasha Payne, Ben Wexler (Jonathan Larson Winner), Dances For Solidarity, as well as Brian Stevens, Tracy Leigh, Izell Robinson, George Wilkerson and Santonio D Murff Bey: five poets who are currently incarcerated and active members of PEN America's prison writing program.

The full performer list includes Andrea Ambam (Signature Theater Artistic Fellow), Ato Blankson-Wood (Tony nominee Slave Play), Ricardo Bustamante, Teronia Campbell, Biko Eisen-Martin (MCC Theater's Soft), Selina Fulford, Asmeret Ghebremichael (Book of Mormon, Legally Blonde), Brandon Michael Nase, Miss Olithea, Dunasha Payne, Yolanda Peterkin, Robert Pollock, Brian Quijada (Drama Desk Nominee for Where Did We Sit on the Bus?), Geena Quintos (The Public's Soft Power), Alejo Rodriguez, Nora Schell (Jagged Little Pill), Heather Alicia Simms (The Public's RICHARD III), Alan Wiggins (Paradise Square), Cheryl Wilkins, Kara Young (Tony nominee Clyde's).

The evening is curated by Jess McLeod (There's Always the Hudson, Hamilton) with music direction by Sheela Ramesh (Six, ANNIE Live!) and will feature a pre-show act from The Freedom Trap featuring Ivan Calaff (percussion), Ugonna Okegwo (bass), Robert Pollock (vocals), Isaias Umali III (guitar), Chris Washburne (trombone).

The Arts in Action Festival will be the inaugural space for organizations and individuals working at the of arts and advocacy to come together to showcase their work, explore opportunities for collaboration, celebrate the resilience of the justice-impacted community and focus the city's attention on the many ways that the "justice" system is failing to create real justice for so many inhabitants of New York City.

The festival will include workshops, performances, panels, discussion groups, galleries and video exhibits that will allow participants and organizations to experience the power of art and storytelling as a tool for creating more humane policies and systems. This year's festival, themed "Reimagining Justice," will provide a space to demonstrate the impact of inequitable social policies on marginalized communities, while also highlighting the possibilities elicited by the calls for abolition and a society that does not rely on incarceration as a means to addressing social issues.

Organizations represented at the festival will include Featuring: ARTE (Art & Resistance Through Education), the Center for Institutional and Social Change at Columbia Law School, College and Community Fellowships, Dances for Solidarity, Drama Club, Echoes of Incarceration, Exodus Transitional Community, Freedom Agenda, National Council of Incarcerated and Formerly Incarcerated Women and Girls, Parole Prep Project, PEN America, RAPP (Release Aging People from Prison), Recess Arts, Rehabilitation Through the Arts, Survivors Justice Project, Survived and Punished NY, Theatre of the Oppressed, Theater for Social Change Ensemble, Touchdown NYC, Urban Justice Center, Urban Word, and the Vera Institute for Justice.

To learn more, visit


Founded in 2016 by members of the Broadway community as a direct response to the nation's pandemic of racism and police brutality, the Broadway Advocacy Coalition is a multidisciplinary organization which unites artists, legal experts and community leaders to create lasting impact on policy issues from criminal justice reform to education equity to immigration. In 2021, BAC received a Special Tony Award for providing an unparalleled platform for marginalized members of the theatre community and tools to help the theatre industry move toward a more equitable future. Via its partnership with the Center for Institutional and Social Change at Columbia Law School, BAC has collaborated with institutions across New York City, including the New York City Council, Bronx Defenders, and the Brooklyn District Attorney's office. To learn more about their work, and to get involved, visit their website at or follow them on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

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