ArtsWestchester recently announced its first two Voices for Change grantees. The inaugural program is a funding opportunity that provides mid-Hudson Valley region artists and art collectives with a pathway for developing and presenting work that encourages the community-at-large to take action. Composer and pianist Pablo Mayor and playwright David Simpatico were both unanimously chosen by the organization’s Social Justice Committee out of the 42 proposals that spanned poetry, film, theater, dance and visual arts. Each artist will be awarded a grant of $10,000 to realize their project.
ArtsWestchester CEO Janet Langsam says that the organization “believes that art has the ability to address complex social issues, encourage discussion in communities and open up new ways to look at old issues.” The grants panel included seven arts professionals whose own creative and academic practices intersect with the goals of the program.
“El Sapo” is a fully staged musical and dance work that discusses climate change and immigration through the voice of a frog (“el sapo”). The show is created by the team behind Folklore Urbano NYC’s educational program “Cumbia for All”: composer and pianist Pablo Mayor, flutist Anna Povich de Mayor and choreographer/dancer Daniel Fetecua. For the project, the trio will partner with environmental education organization Teatown, and Bronx- based theater company iD Studio Theater.
“Ex-Gay Bar,” a two-act comedy-drama written by David Simpatico, explores the unregulated multi-billion- dollar gay conversion therapy/torture industry. The play features six actors who will each portray multiple parts as the story bounces between a gay conversion prison camp in Central America and a sports bar for the “ex-gay” crowd. Simpatico’s work uses humor as a safety net that allows the audience to explore dark and disturbing topics. The company of actors and theater artists will workshop the play and then, in partnership with Dutchess County Pride, will present the play to the public along with a panel discussion.
A version of this article first appeared in the October issue of ArtsNews, ArtsWestchester’s monthly publication. ArtsNews is distributed throughout Westchester County. A digital copy is also available at artsw.org/artsnews.