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Acting Out: Leadership for Social Change

  • The Lark 311 W 43rd St, 5th Floor New York 10036 US (map)

"Despair creates anger, anger creates energy, and energy turns things around." (Zelda Fichandler, American theatre producer, director, and educator)

In moments of political, social, and environmental stress, how can artists and administrators work towards taking more effective action on the most pressing issues in their communities? How might we strategically unite and collectively pool our skills, knowledge, and resources to promote change and resist compromising our values? And as emerging leaders in the field, how can we develop the leadership skills that will best facilitate and support work that moves the needle on our most critical challenges?

Part presentation, part workshop, part discussion, this event will center on hearing about effective strategies for social change in the arts from leaders in art and activism, as well as work towards developing participants’ approach to leading this work effectively as an artist or arts administrator.

Participants will:

  • hear presentations from facilitators;
  • take part in a generative working session focused on leadership and values development
  • and engage in report outs and a Q&A about strategies for manifesting social change through the arts..


  • Ty Defoe (Writer, Interdisciplinary Artist + Educator)
  • Daniel Banks (Co-Founder, DNAWORKS)
  • Petrushka Bazin Larsen (Artist, educator and curator)

Registration Fee: $8*

*The proceeds from this event will go directly to compensating the facilitators for their time, energy, and expertise. ELNYA will have a donation basket on site during the 5/11 workshop, and we encourage you, if you feel moved, to make an additional donation to support the work of these incredible artists.

About our Facilitators:

Daniel Banks, Ph.D., is a theatre director, choreographer, educator, and dialogue facilitator. He has worked extensively in the U.S. and abroad, having directed such productions as the African premiere of August Wilson’s Jitney at the National Theatre of Uganda; the Eastern European premiere of Anna in the Tropics by Nilo Cruz at the Belarussian National Drama Theatre; a workshop production of Zakiyyah Alexander’s Hip Hop play Blurring Shine at The Market Theatre in South Africa, and Tap Into Peace, a tap and spoken word tribute to love, set to the music of Stevie Wonder at Playhouse Square in Cleveland.

Daniel has served on the faculties of the Department of Undergraduate Drama, Tisch School of the Arts, New York University, the MFA in Contemporary Performance at Naropa University, the M.A. in Applied Theatre, City University of N.Y., and as Chair of Performing Arts at the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, NM. Daniel is the co-director of DNAWORKS, an arts and service organization dedicated to using the arts as a catalyst for dialogue and healing, specifically around the topics of representation, identity and heritage

Daniel is a founding member of the “Acting Together” project in the Program for Peacebuilding and the Arts at Brandeis University and sits on the advisory boards of the Hip Hop Education Center, NYU, and the Catalyst Initiative at the Center for Performance and Civic Practice. He is also on the National Cabinet of the U.S. Department of Arts and Culture. Publications include “The Welcome Table: Casting for an Integrated Society” and “The Question of Cultural Diplomacy: Acting Ethically.” He is editor of the fist critical anthology of Hip Hop Theatre plays Say Word! Voices from Hip Hop Theater (University of Michigan Press).

Ty Defoe (Giizhig), is from the Oneida and Ojibwe tribes of Wisconsin. He is a Grammy Award winner for work on Come to Me Great Mystery: Native American Healing Songs. He is a writer, a two-spirit/trans* activist, cultural pioneer, and musician. Among current highlights, Ty received an Indigenous Heritage Festival Award. This award is given to artists who have made a major positive impact on indigenous people and issues of the world. A NEA award grant for work on "Drum is Thunder, Flute is the Wind," 2016 Robert Rauschenberg Artist in Residence, and 2015 Yale Institute for Musical Theatre for book and lyrics on “Clouds Are Pillows for the Moon” (w/ composer Tidtaya Sinutoke). Ty works with Indigenous populations such as the Alaskan Cultural Heritage Center & Hawaiian Playwrights Initiative among others. He is a member of the youth council at the East Coast Two-Spirit Society and holds degrees from California Institute of the Arts, Goddard College, and from NYU's Graduate Musical Theatre Writing Program at Tisch School of the Arts. Ty is TCG’s Leading the Charge: equity, diversity, and inclusion fellow. Dramatist Guild member.

Petrushka Bazin Larsen Trained as an artist, educator and curator, Petrushka Bazin Larsen is passionate about the arts in all of its disciplines and believes in its power to initiate meaningful conversation, encourage action, be a catalyst for change, and build positive relationships between people. She is the Executive Director of the Reading Team, a literacy-based non-profit located in Harlem and co-founder of Sugar Hill Creamery, Harlem’s only family-owned, neighbor ice cream shop opening this summer. Prior to her appointment, she worked as Vice President for Programs & Education at the Brooklyn Children’s Museum and Program Director at the Laundromat Project, a non-profit organization committed to building resilient neighborhoods using art, art making, and culture as platforms for meaningful exchanges between New York residents.