The actor Liam Cunningham said, “The best kind of art or writing holds a mirror up to society.”
For over 40 years Early Music Seattle has reflected the stories of the great music of the past, but mostly as seen through the eyes of White Europe and America. In this moment we accept the challenge of beginning to reflect a truer picture of the past, which includes the rich stories of Black Americans along with those of all the world’s peoples. This will be a mirror we can be proud of, but as an organization we need to be prepared to meet this challenge.
The board and staff of Early Music Seattle have much to learn in order to play an authentic role in serving a society that values Black bodies and Black voices. We choose to begin this new chapter by listening to and amplifying the thoughts of Black artists and arts leaders as they share their views on music programming, arts leadership, and the collaborative process. They will explore these topics through a series of commissioned articles, helping us make critical decisions in the months ahead as we examine the barriers and assumptions that stand in the way of justice in the arts.
Dr. Monica Rojas-Stewart is a cultural anthropologist, community leader, activist, and performing artist originally from Peru. She is Assistant Director of the African Studies and Latin American and Caribbean Studies Programs at the University of Washington Jackson School of International Studies. She is also the Founder and Board Advisor of Movimiento Afrolatino Seattle (MÁS), an organization formed to ensure the sustainability of ongoing cultural and education arts activities focused on Afrolatinos. Dr. Rojas-Stewart served as Artistic Advisor to Early Music Seattle for its 2018 performance of Jordi Savall’s The Routes of Slavery.
Early Music Seattle is posting this article with the permission of the author. Instead of an honorarium, Dr. Rojas-Stewart suggested we make a donation to Movimiento Afrolatino Seattle. We encourage you to do the same. The opinions expressed in this post are those of the author.
Art In The Making And On The Making Of Art
By Monica Rojas-Stewart