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What Will Be Different? A Conversation on Artist-Activists in a Changing America

July 15, 2017 @ 2:00 pm - 4:30 pm


Day 3 of WE ARE THE PEOPLE WE’VE BEEN WAITING FOR: A Festival of Visionary Ideas, Activism & Arts
July 13, 14 & 15, 2017
New York Live Arts · The 8th Floor · Queens Museum

Presented By ArtPlace America + Creative Capital + Fractured Atlas + United States Artists + Caribbean Cultural Center African Diaspora Institute + The Tate Group

Curated by Brian Tate

Join us in the Queens Museum’s atrium for a conversation with four top artist-activists on what will be different for their work and their lives in America’s new political climate: writer SHAHANA HANIF, Founding Member, Muslim Writers Collective NYC; filmmaker PAOLA MENDOZA, Artistic Director, Women’s March on Washington; SAMORA PINDERHUGHES, pianist/composer; and BETTY YU, multimedia artist/Cofounder, Chinatown Art Brigade. The talk is moderated by LISA CORTÉS, Founder/President, Cortés Films, and will feature a performance by SLV both before and after the talk.

This event will mark Day 3 of WE ARE THE PEOPLE WE’VE BEEN WAITING FOR, a three-day festival of public forums and performances that will gather an array of top artists, activists, and thinkers to explore what America’s new political climate means for arts and culture. On July 13, 14 and 15, 2017, we will explore what a changing America means for arts funders, social justice arts organizations, and artist-activists in our communities.

WE ARE THE PEOPLE WE’VE BEEN WAITING FOR is presented by an alliance of arts innovators: ArtPlace America, Creative Capital, Fractured Atlas, United States Artists, and Caribbean Cultural Center African Diaspora Institute, and The Tate Group. The festival is organized in partnership with three major New York City cultural institutions: New York Live Arts, The 8th Floor, and the Queens Museum.

The festival is an extension of What Will Be Different: Conversations on a Changing America, a traveling discussion series that explores how diverse issues and communities are affected by an era of sweeping political change.


Shahana Hanif is a Brooklyn-born Bangladeshi performance artist, storyteller, disability justice activist, and community organizer rooted in immigrant rights and representation, affordable housing, and language access. She spearheaded CAAAV: Organizing Asian Communities’ public housing organizing program, through which she builds the grassroots community power of low-income, immigrant Bangladeshi, Korean, and Chinese tenants. A founding member of the Muslim Writers Collective NYC, Shahana has also developed a widely used Bangla social justice language bank resource guide.

An accomplished filmmaker, Paola Mendoza focuses much of her work around “marginalized stories,” including those of immigrants, women, and children. After the presidential election, she learned that her friend Carmen Perez was helping plan a massive march in Washington, D.C. for the day after the inauguration. Mendoza called Perez and expressed her enthusiasm. “I’ll do whatever you need me to do,” she said. Mendoza then became the Artistic Director for what became one of the largest demonstrations in U.S. history. She marched for her son Mateo Ali, “so he knows never to sit back in silence when injustice happens.”

Composer/pianist Samora Pinderhughes is known for big multidisciplinary projects and his use of music to examine sociopolitical issues. He has performed in Carnegie Hall, MoMA, The White House and elsewhere, and toured abroad with Branford Marsalis and others. He is creator/composer of The Transformations Suite, “a five-part tone poem, arranged over big band jazz, to provide an emotional engine to push forward the mission of Black Lives Matter.” (Mic) He is a member of Blackout for Human Rights, and was musical director of its 2016 #MLKNow and #JusticeForFlint events. samorapinderhughes.com

Betty Yu is a Chinese-American multimedia artist, filmmaker educator and community activist raised in Sunset Park, Brooklyn to Chinese immigrant parents. She is a co-founder of the Chinatown Art Brigade, a cultural collective that tells stories of Chinatown tenants fighting gentrification. Her documentary Resilience, about her garment worker mother fighting sweatshop conditions, screened at national and international film festivals. She won the 2017 Aronson Journalism for Social Justice Documentary Award for her film, Three Tours, and she is a 2017-2018 Fellow of the Intercultural Leadership Institute. bettyyu.net

MODERATOR: Lisa Cortés, executive producer of the Academy Award© winning Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire, is a pioneer. Her work with Rush Artist Management, Def Jam Records, and Lee Daniels Entertainment has defined a career distinguished by her commitment to empowering diverse voices in front of and behind the camera. Her productions have received over 70 international awards and nominations, including the Academy Award, the Golden Globe, the Berlinale Golden Bear, and the Sundance Film Festival’s Grand Jury Prize among others. She launched her production company, Cortés Films, in 2012.

PERFORMANCE: SLV is the musical project of multi-instrumentalist songwriters Sandra Lilia Velásquez and Sean Dixon. Velasquez is the founder of the critically acclaimed Latin band Pistolera, which released three studio albums and toured extensively in the USA and abroad. Dixon is drummer for the electronic band Zammuto. Legendary bassist Meshell Ndegeocello produced SLV’s debut EP, Dig Deeper, and appears on three songs.  SLV has been featured on NPR, WNYC, MTV Iggy, The New Yorker, and more. NPR described their full-length debut, This Kind, as “a wonderful collection of love songs, perfectly played.” slvmusic.com


July 15, 2017
2:00 pm - 4:30 pm
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Queens Museum
Flushing Meadows Corona Park
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