Art Today, Freedom Forever
January 27, 2017 (originally published on Medium)
As the Quixote Foundation board decided on its last grants in 2016, we realized we’re especially grateful to folks whose work communicates across all borders, shifting perspectives on reproductive freedom and rights: individual artists and arts organizations.
As a powerful force for social change, art has often informed our thinking. We’re loyal members of Grantmakers in the Arts, but artists and their projects have rarely been part of our direct grantmaking...until now.
Since 2012, we’ve been sending a few "Thank You Notes" each year in the form of surprise $25,000 grants. These unsolicited grants appreciate past work, provide unrestricted support for the future, and honor recipients who create the conditions for women and men to make their own decisions about reproductive health.
Artists are an important part of that mix. Our final "Thank You Notes" go to six artists and nonprofit organizations who are crafting a cultural backdrop that supports reproductive freedom.
Lady Parts Justice League is a rapid response creative production team made up of comedy writers, comedians and activists, on call 24/7 to respond to breaking news surrounding reproductive rights issues. Using a formidable range of writing, performance and digital media, they deliver blunt comedic insights that motivate people to “get off their asses and reclaim their rights,” including social media blasts (e.g. #snatchback, #PaulRyanSoScared), “Werk Werk Werkshops,” short movies and videos.
Created by Cindy Cooper, “Words of Choice” is a professional theater company and pro-choice performance. Based on work from a dozen writers including poets, songwriters, essayists and journalists, this ensemble piece weaves stories of women, men and reproductive rights. Words of Choice has traveled to 20 states to open new conversations and help audiences see their connections to others.
Forward Together is a multi-racial organization that works with community leaders and organizations to transform culture and policy to catalyze social change. Their deeply intersectional, movement-building work includes “Echoing Ida,” (@EchoingIda) a program that amplifies the voices of Black women and nonbinary writers.
Favianna Rodriguez is an artist, agitator and intellectual who lectures globally on the power of art, cultural organizing and technology to inspire social change. She makes bold and provocative fine art herself and in partnership with social movement groups. Favianna directs CultureStrike and is a co-founder of Presente.org.
Comedian Elicia Sanchez was featured at Quixote Foundation’s Hump Day Happy Lab: ROFLOL edition. El tells hilarious personal stories that skewer oppressive social norms. They currently produce four Seattle comedy shows, host a podcast and host the Seattle branch of the Moth StorySlam.
Artist and activist Sonya Renee Taylor is the Founder and Radical Executive Officer of The Body is Not an Apology, a resource to promote, demonstrate, and assist in the development of a global movement toward radical self love and body empowerment. She advocates for unapologetic self love which translates to radical human love and action in service toward a more just, equitable and compassionate world. Sonya tours globally sharing lectures, workshops and performances.
Quixote Foundation has finished its work as an organization but our free, fair & healthy mission is still moving forward, embodied in a brilliant extended community whose impacts we may never see. We chose artists for these final grants in part because we share their faith in the untold results of certain kinds of work. They can never know who they’ve reached, or how deeply an experience has moved an audience. But we hope these six artists and organizations will walk with the same confidence we have in them: that each time they generate beauty, love, anger, laughter and inspiration, stimulate an idea or blow a single mind, they move us all toward true awareness and freedom.
-Free Fair & Healthy for Quixote Foundation
Read about the five previous thank you note cohorts: Organizations doing intersectional work in Native American and indigenous communities; convening activists; innovating in cultural change; developing young leaders; and communicating to create support for just public policy.
—written by Keneta Anderson for Quixote Foundation