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Celia Rose Gooding, Lauren Patten, Joaquina Kalukango & More Launch 'Arts Action Sessions' with Level Forward

These live sessions use the power of stories to connect emotion and facts to the vulnerability and productivity of collective growth and trust-building exercises.

Celia Rose Gooding, Lauren Patten, Joaquina Kalukango & More Launch 'Arts Action Sessions' with Level Forward

To share with the world the unique cultural learning opportunities that come from creative excellence on stage and screen, Slave Play performers 2020 Tony Award nominee Joaquina Kalukango and Jakeem Dante Powell, and Jagged Little Pill performers including and Tony Award nominees Lauren Patten, Celia Rose Gooding, and Kathryn Gallagher, are first to launch "Arts Action Sessions" with Level Forward and a group of non-profit partners.

"Arts Action Sessions" incorporate exclusive live capture excerpts from these Tony Award-nominated Broadway shows, pairing the experiences of performers and their characters with insights from issue experts in fields aligned with show themes. Audience participants will share in the stories of these theatrical works, engaging in intimate, interactive discussions about the characters, their conflicts, and choices, and culminating in a creative exercise that puts the cultural learnings to work.

Facing multiple crises across health, economic, and societal divides, "Arts Action Sessions" are designed to give organizations committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion an answer to the question "Where do we go from here?" by creating growth environments that support getting to know what each member of a team, or what a diverse group of individuals, can uniquely bring to problem solving, innovation, and collaboration. Unlike conventional online trainings or continuing education coursework, these live and dynamic sessions use the power of stories to connect emotion and facts to the vulnerability and productivity of collective growth and trust-building exercises.

"Increasing diversity does not, by itself, increase effectiveness; what matters is how an organization harnesses diversity," reports researchers in the Harvard Business Review, (November-December 2020, "Getting Serious About Diversity: Enough Already with the Business Case," Robin J. Ely and David A. Thomas). Underlying studies show that increasing diversity alone does not boost morale, productivity, or bottom-line performance and that in fact, such performative steps can backfire if not properly harnessed and supported.

Slave Play performers Kalukango and Powell have partnered with Carmen Morgan of artEquity to guide portions of their three-day session on "The Black Toolbox of Empowerment" for university students, to be held February 24-26.

Jagged Little Pill sessions will commence in March and will include sessions on LGBTQIA+ identities, advocacy, and allyship, and separately, creating a culture of consent in partnership with organizations including Joyful Heart Foundation.

Said Joaquina Kalukango, "In college, I questioned the meaning of my dual roles as artist and citizen, though it is through my journey with Slave Play when answers have come into view. From the Black Out performances that gave Black people affordable access to a Broadway house where they experienced and processed theater in a safe space, to the Golden Collection that donated plays by Black playwrights to public libraries and community centers in all 50 states, and now with the honest conversations and healing interactions of 'Arts Action Sessions,' we can continue to unpack and dismantle racist systems and practices that silence people of color. Working towards healing and equity begins with these difficult conversations."

Added Jakeem Dante Powell, "I've always wanted to be the kind of artist who asks really tough questions. In this moment, that question is 'How do we eradicate institutions built to oppress us?' Working on Slave Play gave me the opportunity to listen to many answers, and now, with the help of Level Forward, I can take this work off the stage and into my community. While the conversation about dismantling systems of oppression is necessary, I am most excited about the organizing and action yet to come."

"Because of the artistry, commitment, and brave leadership of Level Forward's varied creative partners, and the partnership of organizations such as artEquity and Joyful Heart Foundation, we're able to launch these innovative 'Arts Action Sessions,' broadening access to creative excellence, cultural learning, and sharing common truths of our human experiences," said Level Forward CEO, Adrienne Becker.

All sessions will be produced by Level Forward in partnership with select 501(c)3 non-profit partners. Each session will provide qualitative insights on outcomes and supporting materials for participants.


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