Beauty, Sincerity, Vulnerability, Engagement
The International Human Rights Art Festival offers an ongoing series of art-advocacy events, festivals, workshops and community programs at the intersection of art, spirit and society. We open up space to hear different points of view, to listen to unique stories and perspectives. We believe that beauty, sincerity and vulnerability are the most powerful tools in the activist’s toolbox. We engage in open-hearted creativity and discourse with politicians, social leaders and others as partners, not adversaries.
We partner with artists whose work is based in the mystical/activist "I am" or "I should," as opposed to the political/religious/oppositional "you are" or "you should."
We open space for healing, reflection and engagement with those we agree with, as well as others who might seem foreign.
Found in the Street
an evening at the intersection of creativity, spirit and the NYC Subway System
July 22, 7:30 pm
Playroom Theater, 151 W 46th St., 8th Floor, New York, NY 10036
Tickets and further information here
Found in the Street, an evening highlighting the creative energy of NYC's street and subway life. We'll watch Ramon Nyitrai's short documentary "Busk," about NYC street performers, and then enjoy the performances of three NYC street performers: Natalia Paruz (the "Saw Lady"), Jacob Cohen (cello) and Marc Mueller ("StreetMule," a multi-instrumentalist performer). Afterwards, we'll participate in a discussion with these artists about their unbreakable creative passion, what drives them, the challenges of presenting work in the street and other concerns about art, life and the spiritual underpinnings of creativity.
September-December (Wild Project, 195 E. 3rd St., New York's East Village): IHRAF will be offering three courses in Applied Mysticism throughout the fall:
* Great Books explores mystical thinking by reading from texts of great spiritual thinkers throughout the ages to spur us on to see our lives, and the surrounding society, from a very different perspective. Every week, we read 30-page excerpts of one book, then spend the class discussing the ideas, as well as how they might impact the manner in which we view the world, and our place within it. Further information here.
* Prophetic Activist Art: Strategies for a Spiritual Revolution offers an intensive workshop to build individual art-activist projects over the semester-long seminar. Classes include an introduction to the specific aspects of the Prophetic Activist Art model (developed by Tom Block out of his own work and published in 2014 as a manifesto/handbook), and then an exploration about how these ideas can be applied to each artist and their endeavor. Further information here.
* Improv(e): Improv Comedy meets Social Activism offers improv comedy instruction, taught by the incomparable Katie Hutch, exploring how improv can be paired with social activism. Each class will be built around a specific concern, exploring how improv can expand audience and understanding of social and spiritual issues. Issues of concern include shared Jewish-Sufi teaching tales; stories of immigrants; philosophy of Greek Stoic thinkers; mystical thinking of medieval mystic Meister Eckhart and more.
Eight courses on Tuesday evenings (7-10 pm) between September 11 and November 6. (There is no class on September 18.) The class show will be Thursday, November 8, 9:30-10:30 pm, at the PIT Striker, 123 E 24th St (b/t Park & Lex). Further information here.
September 16 (place/time TBD): Health and Wellness II: After our wildly successful event this past spring exploring the intersection of Eastern and Western healing, we will be looking deeper into health concerns through performance. We will be exploring different ideas of what is and what isn't psychic health -- a changing metric throughout human history. (For instance, the greatest medieval mystics would certainly find themselves incarcerated "for their own good" in our era.) Featuring a theatre excerpt from our very own Social Media Maven Alexa Jordan; Laurel Snyder's haunting dance "Bones, Bodies and Demons;" performance artist Rosary Solimanto's "Mental" and then finishing on a gentle note with performer, clown and "Jester of the Peace" Barbara Ann Michaels, we will hear, see and experience different ways of being.
November 12-18 (Wild Project, 195 E. 3rd St., New York's East Village): The full festival! Stay tuned for more information as we get closer to the time!!
This events series is in partnership with arts and advocacy organizations to raise awareness and action around specific local, national, and international human rights issues. The Interim Events series has received generous support from the Lyn and Norman Lear Family Foundation and the Barbra Streisand Foundation. More on past IHRAF Series can be found here.
IHRAF is thrilled to announce our new media partner: WNYC, the USA's largest public radio station! WNYC will be helping us get our word out to their 1.7 million listeners and 2 million website visitors a week, as our news and logo become part of their world! Thank you, WNYC, we are looking forward to sharing a great summer and fall together.
We're very excited to welcome Amy Poehler as the latest addition to our list of Honorary Co-Sponsors! Ms. Poehler, founder of NYC's Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre, was a cast-member of Saturday Night Live from 2001-2008. She is best known for starring as Leslie Knope in the NBC sitcom Parks and Recreation, for which she won a Golden Globe Award for Best Actress in a Television Musical or Comedy Series in 2014 and a Critics' Choice Award for Best Actress in a Comedy Series in 2012. We're honored to have Ms. Poehler's support!
Festival friend, participant and supporter Omoyele Sowore is running to become President of Nigeria! Mr. Sowore was born on February 16, 1971 in the Niger Delta region of the country where he was also raised. He studied geography and planning at the University of Lagos and holds a master’s degree in public administration from Colombia University.
While in the University of Lagos, he was deeply involved in anti – military demonstrations and student unionism which ultimately culminated in his election as the President of the Student Union Government where he served between 1992-1994.
In 1992 at University of Lagos, Sowore led 2,000 students in protest against Nigeria’s notorious kleptocracy. Police opened fire, killing seven. Sowore was arrested, interrogated and beaten, and later found out his family too had been put under pressure. But he refused to back down in the struggle for decent education in his country.
For his vociferous anti – government campaigns, he was harassed, arrested and detained for about 8 times in various detention centers. Sowore has remained consistent in his struggle to emancipate his country from the clutches of the racketeers and plunderers. He fled the country to the United States in 1999.
Omoyele Sowore represents different things to different people. To the corrupt politicians, the ruling class and their paid and unpaid apologists, Sowore is a tool in the hands of the opposition. However, to the incorruptible and liberated victims of misrule, corruption and dictatorship, he represents the audacious candle that brightens the scars inflicted on the soul of our nation.
March 5, 2018
IHRAF Producer Tom Block talks with Dr. Bob Lee on BronxNet's "Open" program about the Celebration of Black Men, at the Davenport Theater in midtown Manhattan, on March 12.
January 30, 2018
We are thrilled to announce that Television Producer, National Medal of Arts Winner, founder of the People for the American way and a strong activist for three-quarters of a century Norman Lear and the Lyn and Norman Lear Family Foundation, our strongest supporter to date, has granted us support to underwrite our interim events between now and the full Festival in November, allowing us to concentrate on providing the most passionate, powerful and transformative activist performances that we can muster. Thank you Norman Lear, Festival Godfather!
January 15, 2018
The Dramatist Magazine, official periodical of the Dramatists Guild, published an article in their edition on censorship (January/February 2018) about their important role in finding us a home for our banned program back on October 15. Additionally, they used Festival Producer Tom Block's artwork on the cover of their magazine, as well as in the interior, to illustrate their exploration of censorship.
January 9, 2018
Barbra Streisand has joined the International Human Rights Art Festival as an Honorary Co Sponsor! Additionally, she has donated money to us through her Streisand Foundation. Ms. Streisand is a singular American talent, having won two Academy Awards, ten Grammy Awards including the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award and the Grammy Legend Award, five Emmy Awards, a Special Tony Award, a Kennedy Center Honors prize, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and nine Golden Globes!
January 1, 2018
Documentary from the first
International Human Rights Art Festival @ Dixon Place
Award-winning (C-Span Studentcam) high school videographers Dalya Block and Kalina Gibson completed their documentary of the first IHRAF -- check it out here!
December 11, 2017
Video from a Celebration of Women
NYU Broadcast Journalist student Hannah Foley made a beautiful short reportage about our celebration on the 70th anniversary of the issuing of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, "A Celebration of Women's Power," in honor of Eleanor Roosevelt, who was chair of the drafting committee for the document. Featuring Rachael Sage, Dancing Georgina Project, Marni Rice and Xiomara Evans.
Banner Painting: Woman Shedding Burka by Tom Block