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.



Media Partner

Next up:

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Theatre At the intersection of patriotism, mysticism and the CIA.

IRT Theater

154 Christopher Street Greenwich Village, NYC

October 18-November 3

(Performances Wednesday – Saturday at 8pm and Sunday at 2pm with and additional performance on Monday, October 28 at 8pm. Note: No performance on Halloween, Oct. 31.)

Further information and tickets here.

Duck follows the internal, psychic 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 chooses not 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.

November 14-15, 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 exploring the intersection of art, society and education. The day will feature all-student artists. Visual art exhibit (November 14, 6:30-8:30 pm, Dodge Hall, 501) Carolina Cambronero Varela (photography) Noelle Penas (painting) Mohamed Khalil (sculpture) Moira Hamilton (painting) Celia Le (Collage) Aishah Bibisarah Bostani (drawings) Jai Bashir (poems) Yuping Zhang (photography)

Performances (November 15, 7:30-9 pm, Black Box Theatre) Ana Chen (spoken word) Christelle Onwu, NYC Commission on HR Mamadou Yattassaye (music and poetry) Phanesia Pharel (theatre) Marissa Guiterriez (ARTE) using art to empower Charlie Blanc (dance) Alex White (stand-up comedy) TAAL, South Asian Classical Fusion Dance Team Pizmon – Jewish A Capella Group
Ticketing and attendance information coming soon…

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. Forty separate performances over the week. The full schedule has been announced and tickets are on sale. Full schedule and ticketing information can be seen here!

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 29-30, 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.

May 31, 2019, Shalom/Salaam Creative Retreat, Washington D.C. This full-day event exploring the similarities between Muslim and Jewish history, culture and spirituality will be in conjunction with the Muslim-Jewish Solidarity Committee, Jews, Muslims and Allies Acting Together (JAMAAT), Jewish-Islamic Dialogue Society (JIDS), Shoulder-to-Shoulder and the Rumi Forum. The day will include music, dance, theatre, panel discussions, workshops and dinner.

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):

Latest News

October 2, 2019

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Echoes of Incarceration

We are very excited to report that Echoes of Incarceration with be our official videographers for the 2019 Festival at the Wild Project. They will be creating a documentary video of the event! Echoes of Incarceration is an award-winning documentary initiative produced by youth with incarcerated parents.

September 13, 2019


IHRAF Records

We are very excited to announce the start of a new initiative: IHRAF Records, where we will be recording live concerts of musicians whose work embodies our aesthetic of beauty, sincerity, vulnerability and engagement. Our first recording was made of jazz improvisor Mara Rosenbloom, at the Dramatists Guild Foundation in Hell’s Kitchen, NYC. You can hear her beautiful concert here!

September 1, 2019

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Film Festival

IHRAF is proud to announce the selection of the documentary film ArtJustice by CSPAN award-winning student filmmakers Dalya Block and Kalina Gibson, by the SOTAMBE Documentary, Film and Arts Festival in Kitwe, Zambia. Dalya and Kalina captured the beauty, passion and openhearted work of the International Human Rights Art Festival as presented in our first Festival, at Dixon Place in March 2017. If you can't make it to Zambia , you can see the film 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

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New Partnership

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


Uma Menon

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

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New Partnership

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 humanrightsartfestival@gmail.com.

April 8, 2019

IHRAF Partners with Columbia University, NYC

The International Human Rights Art Festival is partnering with Columbia University's Ratrock Magazine and Amnesty International-Columbia to bring a full-day of programming to that illustrious institution this fall, 2019!

February 1, 2019

IHRAF International Fellow

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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

A brief compilation of our main event at the Wild Project, November 16, 2018

November 2, 2018 

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez


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 humanrightsartfestival@gmail.com!

August 1, 2018

Congressman John Lewis

A brief introduction to the video that Congressman and Civil Rights hero John Lewis made for the International Human Rights Art Festival. The full video, which explores the influence and importance of art on Congressman Lewis during the Civil Rights era, will be shown at the International Human Rights Art Festival opening event, Friday, November 16, 2018 at the Wild Project in NYC.

June 10, 2018



Media Partner

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


Amy Poehler

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

Omoyele Sowore  at the inaugural  International Human Rights Art Festival  at Dixon Place, March 3, 2017. Behind him is a projected image of him and Festival Producer Tom Block, in front of a painting of Mr. Sowore by Mr. Block, in 2002 at the AFL-CIO Headquarters in Washington DC.

Omoyele Sowore at the inaugural International Human Rights Art Festival at Dixon Place, March 3, 2017. Behind him is a projected image of him and Festival Producer Tom Block, in front of a painting of Mr. Sowore by Mr. Block, in 2002 at the AFL-CIO Headquarters in Washington DC.

Omoyele Sowore

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

Norman Lear with Festival friend Kathleen Turner at Norman's 95th birthday party last year.

Norman Lear with Festival friend Kathleen Turner at Norman's 95th birthday party last year.

Norman Lear

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

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Dramatist Magazine

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.

Banner Painting: Woman Shedding Burka by Tom Block


January 9, 2018


Barbra Streisand

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.


Video still of Senator Schumer from the 2017 IHRAF  Photo by Elisa Guiterrez

Video still of Senator Schumer from the 2017 IHRAF
Photo by Elisa Guiterrez


Find out about our History, Mission, supporters (including Senator Charles E. Schumer, Congressman John Lewis, Presidential Medal of Arts Winner Norman Lear, and more).

Learn More →

Congresman and Civil Rights hero John Lewis, the youngest of the  Big Six  civil rights leaders as chairman of  SNCC  from 1963 to 1966, has made a video welcome for the 2018 IHRAF at the Wild Project, exploring the importance of art to his activism.  Movie by Mollie Block

Congresman and Civil Rights hero John Lewis, the youngest of the Big Six civil rights leaders as chairman of SNCC from 1963 to 1966, has made a video welcome for the 2018 IHRAF at the Wild Project, exploring the importance of art to his activism. Movie by Mollie Block

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