1) Continue a meaningful and cross-cutting public discussion, outside the limited confines of non-profit and arts organizations, about the dynamics of non-compensation of performers, dichotomizing of art and activism, devaluing of childcare, public aesthetic framing of performance at the expense of equitable stakeholder engagement, and other topics related to the October 19th at Between the Door and the Street.
3) Commit to operationalizing improved equity considerations in future art projects, public events, museal projects, and collaborative initiatives undertaken by all of your institutions – in Brooklyn Museum and Creative Time, as well as in Suzanne Lacy's future work. We ask that going forward, your project implementation, stakeholder and community engagement processes better align with your espoused value frameworks of feminism and justice. This time around, for Between the Door and the Street, we found that while “principles of inclusion, equity, debate, learning, sharing...etc” were touted continuously, in practice these values were not adequately operationalized leading up to October 19th. We ask that you try harder, do better next time. Next time, we ask that you undertake a deeper equity analysis to identify patriarchal, classist, racist, institutional and gendered barriers to inclusive participation, whether that be through provision of childcare, stipends to activists and artists, or other strategies.
By signing this letter, you are asking Suzanne Lacy, Creative Time, and Brooklyn Museum to agree to the three community requests above.
Also contact :
Creative Time : email@example.com
Brooklyn Museum : firstname.lastname@example.org
Suzanne Lacy: email@example.com
Leina Bocar : firstname.lastname@example.org
Open Letter to Suzanne Lacy, Nato Thompson, Catherine J. Morris, Brooklyn Museum, Creative Time
October 16, 2013
Dear Suzanne Lacy, Nato Thompson, Catherine J. Morris and volunteers and staff of Brooklyn Museum and Creative Time,
We are artists, scholars, activists, feminists, wage laborers and mothers performing in Between the Door and the Street. While there are many merits to this piece, and we are hopeful about the public conversations we will engage in, we raise issue with the lack of payment for performers and the lack of childcare options for participating mothers.
As feminists, we believe not paying the 350 women participants perpetuates labor inequality, devalues women’s time and assumes that all women in this piece are financially able to volunteer time, energy, emotional and political content for free. We believe that assuming and relying on free/unpaid contributions of our time for your project continues to perpetuate a standard of capitalist economy that systematically underpays and disenfranchises us, and devalues our time, our bodies, our energies, our histories and our intellects through tactics such as “professionalization.” “volunteerism” and more. This is a mainstream standard that has never worked for us, and does not serve us now. A culture of “volunteerism” assumes that all participants have the means to volunteer and perpetuates the very real reality of poverty and scarcity for many artists and activists. Compensating us would address, in a small but important way, the material realities and economic oppressions impacting many of our lives.
As women who come from different socio-economic and racial backgrounds, we understand that not all activism can or should be paid. However, we do think that the arts community has an imperative to try harder to set a better standard of compensating women for their labor, and for practicing solidarity economies that support women’s participation instead of exploiting them. Additionally, we feel that poor public framing of the unpaid “volunteerism” and time commitments required for Between the Door and the Street create a high barrier to entry. Most of the women participating are non-profit professionals, or women attached to high-visibility non-profits discussing the prompt questions of: “who will take care of the nannies children?” but can the “nanny” bring her own children to this event and participate in an equitable manner, given that she will not be paid, and there will be no childcare? We think not.
We are familiar with, and respectful of Suzanne Lacy’s art, and it is in the spirit of compassionate solidarity and loving community engagement,that we are bringing up these issues. We believe that art and artists benefit from honest critique and that a piece such as Between the Door and the Street that aims to open up space to talk about feminism and women’s work must take on these issues.
Leina Bocar ( performer )
artist, activist, member of Occupy Sunset Park and Arts and Labor
Anonymous performer 1
Anonymous participant 2
* We are in no way attempting to speak on behalf of the other women performers or for their organizations. We are respectfully signing as individuals.
Supporters, signing in solidarity,
1. W.A.G.E. (Working Artists in the Greater Economy)
2. Laurel Ptak, curator, member of Arts and Labor
3. Marisa Holmes, activist, filmmaker, Occupy Wall Street
4. Andrew Ross, Professor of Social and Cultural Analysis, New York University
5. Julieta Salgado, activist, sociologist, Brooklyn College
6. Saar Shemesh, artist, activist, Free Cooper Union
7. Sarah Quinter, artist, activist, Occupy Sandy
8. Zoltan Gluck, Doctoral student, Anthropology, CUNY Graduate Center
9. Kressent Pottenger, activist, Murphy Institute for Labor studies, CUNY, member of Arts and Labor
10. Mike Andrews, Occupy Wall Street, Strike Debt, Copy Editor e-flux
11. Katherine Ramos, activist, mother
12. Noah Fischer, artist, activist
13. Samantha Demby, social justice activist
14. Matthew Tinker, activist, All in the Red
15. George Caffentzis, Emeritus Professor of Philosophy, University of Southern Maine
16. Peter Walsh, Intern Labor Rights, member of Arts and Labor
17. Hector Agredano, CCNY Instructor
18. Elena Schowlsky-Fitch, Public health educator, community activist, Occupy Sunset Park, mother
19. Rachel Higgins, artist, activist, member of Arts and Labor
20. Steve McFarland, Doctoral Candidate, CUNY Graduate Center
21. Sarah Newgaard, CUNY Hunter College alumni
22. Darrah Martin, Free University, Postdoctoral Fellow, Columbia University
23. Lauren Suchman
24. Igor Rodriguez Calderon, Doctoral Candidate, Cultural Anthropology, CUNY Graduate Center
25. Jerry Goralnick, activist, actor, War Resisters League, The Living Theatre, Strike Debt
26. Emily Baierl
27. Rob Robinson, housing justice activist, Take Back the Land, NESRI
28. Helen Panagiotopoulous, CUNY Graduate Center
29. Brad Young, Doctoral student, Political Science, CUNY Graduate Center
30. Amy Starecheski, Columbia University
31. Susan Jahoda, professor at UMASS Amherst , Rethinking Marxism Collective
32. Simon Leung, artist and Professor, UC Irvine
33. Maureen Connor, artist, Professor at Queens College, Founder of Social Practice Program
34. Jessica Feldman, Doctoral candidate, Department of Media, Culture, Communication, New York University, activist
35. David Spataro, activist, Doctoral Candidate, CUNY
New Supporters 10.26.13
Performers in Piece
Regeneracion Childcare Collective
New Supporters, signing in Solidarity
36. Nancy Fraser, Loeb Professor of Philosophy and Politics, New School for Social Research, Einstein Fellow, Freie Universität-Berlin
Global Justice Chair, Collège d'études mondiales, Paris
Senior Fellow, Centre for Advanced Studies “Justitia Amplificata," Goethe University Frankfurt
37. Kathleen Purcell, artist, activist
38. Catherine Tafur, artist, activist, member of Arts and Labor
39. Mary Lamb Coyne, intern, writer, curator
40. Sarah Lynch
41. Patricia Dillon, photographer
42. Erica Kermani, artist, educator
43. Antonio Serna, artist, activist, Making Worlds, The Commons, member of Arts and Labor
44. Emily Owen, artist, opera singer, graphic designer
45. Patrick Conlon, musician, activist, member of Arts and Labor
Leina Bocar started this petition with a single signature, and now has 15 supporters. Start a petition today to change something you care about.