Cynthia Cohen Speaks at Annual Conference of the Association of Performing Arts

Cynthia Cohen, director of coexistence research and international collaborations for the Slifka Program in Intercommunal Coexistence, spoke at the annual conference of the Association of Performing Arts Presenters on Saturday, January 21, 2006. Cohen's panel, entitled "Art and Life in a Time of War," was sponsored by a small women's working group that is part of APAP.

Other participants on the panel included Toni Blackman, a poet and musician, and the U.S. Department of State's Hip Hop Ambassador; Catherine Filloux, a playwright who is part of the Coexistence International/Theatre Without Borders "Theatre and Peacebuilding" collaboration; Joanna Sherman of Bond Street Theatre (also a member of TWB), who has been doing extensive theatre work in Afghanistan; and Marty Pottenger, a NYC-based theatre artist who is doing a major government-sponsored anti-racism series in Portland, Maine.

Approximately 30 people attended and joined in the conversation. They included major arts presenters, funders, and artists. Cohen offered some theoretical frameworks about the coexistence capacities that can be nourished through the arts, and she reported on the Brandeis International Fellows in South Africa, Cambodia, Sri Lanka, and Burundi. She also described the CI/TWB collaboration.

"It was interesting to me to note that this most professional of arts organizations, supporting those who are engaged in art as a business, chose to include a session on this coexistence-related topic," said Cohen after the panel. "I was also impressed to read the vision statement of this organization [see below], which includes a clear commitment to coexistence-related values. The more I attend these events and hear stories from artists working in conflict regions, the more convinced I am that artists represent an enormous resource in our coexistence efforts -- and that they are desperately in need of education in coexistence principles, theory, and practice."

Association of Performing Arts Presenters
vision statement:

Our Vision

We envision a world where

  • all people can experience the transformative power of live performance;
  • art and ideas circulate vigorously and freely;
  • artists play a leading role in civic affairs and global dialogue;
  • people of all cultures interact and affirm themselves through the arts; and
  • public and private sectors alike support the performing arts as a priority.

Our Values

We believe the performing arts are essential. Live performance is a universal form of human communication, a fundamental component of free expression. The interaction between artist and audience is basic to civic life, crucial to the economic well-being of communities, indispensable to the mind and spirit.

We believe the performing arts unite all people. For the performing arts to flourish, we must have diversity and inclusiveness: in our membership, our presentations, our audiences. By embracing all human experience-and bridging differences among individuals, communities, and cultures-we strengthen both art and society.

We believe the performing arts inspire leadership. Each of our members can and should play an active role in the arts world and in its home community. By accepting the responsibility to lead, exercising their own creativity, our members advance both themselves and their partners: presenters, artists, producers, agents, managers, funders, and audiences.

Our Mission

The Association of Performing Arts Presenters is a membership organization, dedicated to bringing performing artists and audiences together in every place and way imaginable. The Association achieves its goal by providing visionary thinking, professional development, resource sharing, and advocacy, in support of its members and all those who create and disseminate the performing arts.