Beauty, Sincerity, Vulnerability, Engagement
Opening a space where artists, politicians and the spirit can meet
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.
The International Human Rights Art Festival is a 501c3 not-for-profit organization.
a live Jazz recording concert
September 9, 2019
Music Hall, Dramatist Guild Fund
356 W 40th St
New York, NY 10018
IHRAF is honored to present jazz pianist Mara Rosenbloom at an intimate, live-recording concert. There are only 35 seats available.
As Mara says: "Every moment we breath, taking in all the shared particles of our surroundings, filtering them through our body, and returning them back out, perhaps slightly changed, slightly charged." Her music represents this respiration -- of each of us, of the universe. Her work presents the personification of IHRAF's ideals -- and it gives us great pleasure to welcome her, share an hour of mesmerizing time together and record her for posterity's sake! Wine will be provided free of charge. Tickets are on sale here.
September 21-29, 2019, SOTAMBE Documentary, Film and Arts Festival, Kitwe, Zambia. IHRAF is partnering this year with the 6th SOTAMBE Film Festival through our African Fellow Mbizo Chirasha. This year’s event is organized under the theme “Southern African Reels”. The main objective of this theme is to broaden the critical network of filmmakers based in Southern Africa and allow for exchange of experiences and regional collaborations. SOTAMBE for further information!
October 18-November 3, 2019, Duck (theatre) at IRT Theater, 154 Christopher Street, New York, NY. Duck, by IHRAF Founding Producer Tom Block, follows the internal, pschic struggle of a CIA statistician who learns that 1% can be the difference between life and death. He tries to understand what “loyalty” means — to whom, and at what cost. Under periods of great stress, he loses the ability to speak and instead quacks at people like a duck. Duck explores how we can lose our personal moral compass in the ideas of patriotism, loyalty and success. Further information and tickets here.
November 15, 2019, IHRAF at Columbia University, NY. IHRAF, in partnership with Ratrock Magazine and Amnesty International Columbia University, will present a selection of visual art and performances, as well as a panel discussion with Amnesty International members, exploring the intersection of art, society and education. The day will feature all-student artists. Further information TBD.
December 9-15, 2019, Our annual full-week Festival at the Wild Project, East Village, NY. Featuring visual art, dance, spoken word, theater, poetry, music and more. Stay tuned for further information on these events!!
March 15, 2020, Shalom/Salaam: A Muslim-Jewish Conference for Solidarity (Learn, Participate, Watch, Enjoy!), midtown Manhattan. We will reprise our highly successful daylong journey (April 14, 2019) to Abrahamic peace and understanding with another combination of meditation, workshops, performances and poetry!
May 25-30, 2019, Danspace, New York, NY. IHRAF Dance Curators Layla Zami and Oxana Chi will present a selection of work as part of Danspace’s “Food For Thought” series.
A few of our Honorary Committee members: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Congressman and Civil Rights hero John Lewis, Singer and Actor Barbra Streisand and Senator Bernie Sanders (see the full list here):
August 23, 2019
New Partnership: It’s Real
IHRAF is excited to announce a new partnership with It’s Real Magazine, run by a team of students passionate about mental health in Asian American communities. Our staff consists of artists, feminists, queer activists, athletes. and so much more. They seek to destigmatize mental health issues in Asian American communities.
July 5, 2019
We are thrilled to announce our partnership with the SOTAMBE Documentary, Film and Arts Festival (September 21-29, 2019) organized by the SOTAMBE Film Institute (SFI) in Kitwe, Zambia. Our partnership is spearheaded by 2019 African Fellow Mbizo Chirasha. The partnership is highly commendable because both organizations use arts, film and literary projects to project human rights, to speak social change and to promote freedom of expression issues.
In Zambia and Africa in general, the subject of arts activism and arts for social change is growing and it is now taking center stage with art organizations, festival directors, artists and writers to produce their creative projects with the sole responsibility to positively transform their communities in many ways possible.
“We are extremely happy to collaborate with IHRAF that has been running for the past 15 years! This will expand our network as a Film Festival based in Zambia, as well as add a value to the Zambian artists and filmmakers,” said Mrs. Martina Mwanza, SFI Director. “Our core objective is to initiate social change and contribute to the creation of job employment opportunities through film and arts. Partnership with organizations such IHRAF is therefore key for our growth and achievement of our objectives!”
June 25, 2019
IHRAF Youth Fellow
The International Human Rights Art Festival inaugurates our Youth Fellowship, with our first fellow being Uma Menon, a 15 year old-high school student and writer from Winter Park, Florida. Her acclaimed writing has appeared in the Huffington Post, the Cincinnati Review, SAND Berlin, Indian Literature, Euphony Journal, the Rumpus, Ms. Magazine, and Ruminate Magazine, among other publications. She received the 2019 Lee Bennett Hopkins Award from the Florida State Poets Association , was named a 2019 National Poetry Month Editor’s Pick Poet by Brain Mill Press, and won National Poetry Quarterly’s 2019 contest in Poetry. Her first full-length poetry collection, a commentary on race, gender, and culture, was shortlisted by the 2019 Erbacce Prize and her first chapbook was published by Zoetic Press.
Welcome aboard, Uma!
June 1, 2019
We are very excited to announce a new partnership with the Muslim-Jewish Solidarity Committee, with whom we will be producing an expanding series of art, academic and exploration events around the similarities between Muslims and Jews in history, culture and spirituality! To see how we work together, please visit this page. If you are interested in discussing a collaboration with our team, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
April 8, 2019
IHRAF Partners with Columbia University, NYC
February 1, 2019
IHRAF International Fellow
Mbizo Chirasha, Zimbabwean poet currently living in exile in East Africa, has been named the 2019 IHRAF International Fellow. Mbizo will be a regular African Contributor to the IHRAF PUBLISHES series; be our African Representative of IHRAF (broadcasting, publishing, popularizing IHRAF projects, activities and the festival and help suggest Writers, Writings and Poets for the publication.
Mbizo Chirasha is an acclaimed wordsmith, performance artist, widely published poet and writer. He is the Founder and Creative Director of several creative initiatives and projects, including Young writers Caravan Project, This is Africa Poetry Night 2006 – 2008, Zimbabwe Amateur Poetry conference 2007 – 2010, African Drums Poetry Festival 2007, GirlChildCreativity Project 2011- Current, GirlchildTalent Festival 2012.
December 14, 2018
Celebration of justice
November 2, 2018
We are thrilled to welcome soon-to-be elected Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez — from the very same neighborhood in Queens where the Founding Producer lives — to the Honorary Committee, joining our growing list of partners who engage with us. Ms. Ocasio-Cortez is a self-described democratic socialist. She supports progressive policies such as Medicare for All, a job guarantee, tuition-free public college, ending the privatization of prisons, and enacting gun-control policies. Welcome to the team, Alexandria!
October 7, 2018
Senator susan collins
removed as honorary co-sponsor
Due to an outpouring of indignation over Senator Susan Collins’s (ME) casting the final vote to confirm Brett Kavanaugh for the Supreme Court, and her statement that she didn’t believe Dr. Ford’s assertion that Brett Kavanaugh accosted her, we have removed her name from our list of honorary co-sponsors for the International Human Rights Art Festival at the Wild Project, from November 12-18, 2018.
We very much appreciate all of the new friends who have contacted us about her vote and removing her name — we agree. Her lack of candor, of empathy, her reliance on “junk science” to ignore Dr. Ford’s claim and her insincerity has led us to believe that we do not want her name attached to an event that includes such a sincere and passionate collection of artists, activists, performers and speakers.
August 30, 2018
We are very excited to announce our new publishing initiative, in which we will be occasionally featuring literary artists who base their work in our founding principles: beauty, sincerity and vulnerability. As the Sufis say: "Words spoken from the mouth will never get past the ears, but words spoken from the heart, enter the heart." We will feature such heart-speakers. Check it out here.
If you are a writer who would be interested in being featured as part of this initiative, and feel that your work fits our mission, please contact us at email@example.com!
August 1, 2018
Congressman John Lewis
June 10, 2018
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.
May 26, 2018
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!
April 11, 2018
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
bronxnet Tv interview
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