Performance Project’s 2016-2017 Artists-in-Residence | Image via The University Settlement
The University Settlement’s Performance Project has announced its 2016/2017 Artists-in-Residence. Residencies last for one year and include rehearsal space and support as the artists work toward a public showing of new work. The artists work with young performers and Performance Projects staff to create projects within the diverse University Settlement cultural community. The four selected artists are Alex Bornisky, Stephanie Batten Bland, Mark Nuñez/Gotham Dance Theater, Jody Wood and Superhero Clubhouse. The artists’ work differ in their topics; from immigration, self-care for social workers and community care providers, education, migration and permaculture.
In the announcement, Co-Artistic Directors Alison Fleminger & Baba Israel noted, “These artists not only bring artistic strength but also a commitment to truly connecting with our communities and exploring resonant themes such as immigration, migration, education, permaculture, and the self-care of social workers. Together these projects offer University Settlement a profound opportunity to ask, ‘How can we more skillfully and creatively share space with one another?’ ”
Editor’s Note: Our contributor, Giacinta Frisillo recently spoke with Nellie Perera of the Abrons Arts Center, who is excited to be partnering with an innovative new children’s educational theater company, Trusty Sidekick. The company also took part in the Artists-in-Residence program at The Performance Project at The University Settlement this past season and produced the highly praised Shadow Play for a very young audience (ages 2-5).
“Finding a balance between education and the arts has always been a part of the mission at Henry Street Settlement,” says program director Nellie Perera, and ever since Henry Street’s recent partnering with up-and-coming theatre company Trusty Sidekick, the balance between the two has reached perfect alignment.
In this bleak era for arts funding — particularly for arts education in our public schools, small theater companies (and non-profit arts organizations in general) — it is comforting to know there is a quiet renaissance taking place over at the University Settlement. The Performance Project brings in professional performing artists to perform, create, and interact with members of our ever-changing Lower East Side community. Since its inception in 2007, such diverse groups as the Mud/Bone Collective, the band The Wiyos and The Nerv Tank have presented work. The series also offers free “Monday Night Salons,” which allow artists to connect with Lower East Side residents (and other artists) in a relaxed environment. There is usually a potluck, along with a performance and then a conversation about important issues facing the arts and the local community.
I recently had a chance to sit down with the innovative Program Curator for the Performance Project, Alison Fleminger. We met in the historic Speyer Hall, a gorgeous refurbished performance space, at the University Settlement’s home base on the corner of Rivington and Eldridge. Fleminger grew up around a Settlement House environment (her mother, artist Susan Fleminger, was the director of visual arts and the arts-in-education program at The Henry Street Settlement for many years before becoming Deputy Director) and has a keen interest in theater and performance, which made her a unique candidate for the position.
Actor, dancer and poet Joseph Webb (Bring in ‘Da Noise, Bring in ‘Da Funk) will be helping University Settlement kick off the Spring Season of The Performance Project this Friday at 8pm. His latest project, The Joseph Webb Quartet, is a blend of hip-hop, jazz, soul, tap dance and spoken word. Tickets are $15 adults/$10 for students and seniors, $5 for youth 18 and under.