About the Project

A Way Out of No Way is a multi-media documentation of the life and work of the extraordinary musician, educator, activist and cultural worker, Jane Wilburn Sapp. She is collaborating on this project with a team that includes her husband, educator, activist and historian Hubert Sapp, and Dr. Cynthia Cohen, director of the Program in Peacebuilding and the Arts at Brandeis University. The team has collaborated on prior initiatives including the 2011 Weekend Intensive series, featuring 3-day educational and training opportunities for members of the Brandeis community and practitioners working at the fields of the arts, culture, development, community organizing and conflict transformation.

The challenges communities are facing today are in some ways different, but in many ways, the dynamics are disturbingly familiar to those faced by Black communities since the end of slavery in the United States. Since many of those who began their work during the Movement of the 1960’s are now approaching their seventies, the time is right to capture the lessons of their social and political efforts and synthesize a legacy that will be accessible for young people and educators today. The project will touch on aspects of Jane’s work and experience including: her sensibilities as an artist developing within the context of a community struggling against the daily assaults on human dignity and human rights; how music became platform in which voices, lives and struggles of African American people could be heard by each other and by society at large;  how Jane’s rich understanding of the dynamics within communities supported her as she worked to bring groups together across differences; the core principles that Jane believes are at the center of excellent cultural work practice;  the distinguishing features of cultural work compared to the related practices of community organizing, community-based art, and community development; and the implications for practitioners, educators, and policy-makers.

The project is multifaceted. It includes:

  • a book,
  • a series of presentation/performances,
  • trainings,
  • workshops, and
  • the creation of a catalogued archive of images and print material.
This website also includes a gallery of works by and about Jane Sapp.

Jane Sapp
Dr. Cynthia Cohen

Hubert Sapp