LETTER FROM THE ARTISTIC DIRECTOR AUGUST 6, 2020
You’re invited to dream with us!
This week we announce something that I have been dreaming about for years: the Penumbra Center for Racial Healing – a gentle, brave space where the arts, wellness, and racial equity flow into and through one another to create dynamic potential to address what is poisoning our nation.
We know that we are ill-there is tragic proof all over-and we need to resource our healing. What would it mean to have a space dedicated to fostering individual health and collective equity? What if there were one place where you could witness art that fires your imagination, healing practices that restore your sense of balance and possibility, and trainings that could equip you to stand powerfully for social progress? This is what we envision and we are excited to welcome our community to dream with us.
And, we must nourish and sustain those who have been on the frontline of racial equity efforts. We often ask black artists to delve into profoundly vulnerable spaces to create work that moves us forward through history. They then have to weather racist systems and infractions against their humanity in their daily lives. The toll that this takes on them-to continue to stay open and creative and to weather racism while doing so-is unjust. It risks permanently damaging the fragile and resilient humanity inside some of our most innovative leaders.
Penumbra’s Center for Racial Healing is designed with these empathic, brilliant people in mind. We want to resource their ingenuity, build their resiliency, give them safe spaces to rest and replenish, and support the development of their artistic and healing practices. In turn, we will all benefit from what they create. We want a more equitable exchange than has been afforded black artists in the past. Penumbra’s health and vitality today can ensure that this long held wish of ours-to holistically nourish our artists-can be realized.
We have lost so many of our beloved leaders and teachers to the poisonous stress of toxic racism. We’ve lost them to a lack of health care or an inability to access healthy food. We’ve lost them to coping mechanisms that helped them survive, but kept them from really thriving. We’ve lost them to poverty, to depression, to hopelessness. The Penumbra Center for Racial Healing will provide black artists with sacred, healing sanctuary and creative inspiration. As we nurture black artists, a hallmark of Penumbra’s mission since 1976, we also welcome our wider community to experience the joy, the deep learning, and the transformative healing that is possible when participating in the creation of a loving, equitable community space.
The dynamism of what we envision places all of us on a path of lifelong learning and healing. Together we can invest in our collective uplift as we resource our individual growth. We are excited to welcome the expertise and experience of others at or ahead of our growth edge. Like a flower that keeps on blooming, we will learn as we go.
We’re opening ourselves to abundance, to possibility, to true and lasting healing.
We hope you’ll come along for the ride.
With abiding love,
“How are we going to take the songs of all of this wonderful flock here and weave them together to create this great orchestra that will sing the song of healing? ”
—Seitu Ken Jones