The Year of James Baldwin

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Copyright by Sedat Pakay © 1964
The Columbia University School of the Arts Office of Community Outreach and Education is thrilled to announce The Year of James Baldwin with partners Harlem Stage and New York Live Arts.

“New York Live Arts is proud to launch the monumental city-wide multidisciplinary festival The Year of James Baldwin with James Baldwin, This Time! and collaborate with such illustrious partners as Harlem Stage and the Columbia University School of the Arts,” stated Jean Davidson, Executive Director and CEO of New York Live Arts. “Bringing people, resources and big ideas together to examine the past and reimagine the future is important to New York Live Arts and we are incredibly thankful to the Ford Foundation and our colleagues at the Richard Avedon Foundation, The James Baldwin Estate and the New School’s Vera List Center for Art and Politics for their support of our second annual Live Ideas festival.”

“After the success of New York Live Arts’ inaugural Live Ideas festival, The Worlds of Oliver Sacks, we are thrilled to shift the focus to another multifaceted generator of and magnet for ideas, James Baldwin,” said Bill T. Jones, Executive Artistic Director of New York Live Arts. “James Baldwin is a unique and indispensable voice in twentieth-century art and ideas. He continues to shed light on the painful truths of our society, engaging us as almost no other figure does in the intractable conversation at the intersection of class, race, sex and violence. There were other powerful artists and social justice thinkers in his era, but what set James Baldwin apart was his ability to address, in terms at once poetic and visceral, what we can only call ‘Americanism.’”

Among the highlights of the festival are the world premiere of the theater work Nothing Personal, based on the 1964 collaborative book by James Baldwin and Richard Avedon, directed by Patricia McGregor and starring Colman Domingo; a preview of Carl Hancock Rux’s play Stranger on Earth, featuring vocalist Marcelle Davies Lashley; a preview of award-winning composer STEW’s Notes of a Native Song; the New York premiere of choreographer Charles O. Anderson’s Restless Natives; and the world premiere of choreographer Dianne McIntyre’s Time is Time. Also featured during the festival are an original video installation, inspired by the writings of Baldwin, by contemporary visual artist Hank Willis Thomas; and the speaking program “Jimmy at High Noon,” featuring poet Yusef Komunyakaa, critic, essayist and memoirist Hilton Als, playwright and actor Tarell McCraney and others reading Baldwin’s work and discussing its impact.

Collaborators include the Richard Avedon Foundation; The New School and its Vera List Center for Art and Politics and the School of Writing; NYU; and others to be announced as the year progresses.

The full programming schedule for The Year of James Baldwin is forthcoming.
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Listen to Jamaica Kincaid, Lawrence Weschler and Rich Blint discuss Baldwin on WNYC's Brian Lehrer Show:


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Columbia University School of the Arts offers MFA degrees in Film, Theatre, Visual Arts, and Writing, an MA degree in Film Studies, a joint JD/MFA degree in Theatre Management & Producing, a PhD degree in Theatre History, Literature, and Theory, and an interdisciplinary program in Sound Arts.