Thursday, July 24, 2008

art and activism

(this is a short list of organizations, venues, bookstores etc. and is meant to open the doors to arts and activism in Boston, not provide a Yellow-Pages listing of them all. I reccomend that you visit any of the websites below and check their calendars and link pages for the most up to date information and listings of other great groups and events you can attend and participate in!)

Calendars and Event Listings

Open Mic Listings
General Open Mics:
Poetry Open mics:

At Harvard:

Spoken Word Society:

Harvard Arts Organization:
Contact: Alison Cohen cohen@fas, Rebecca Chase chase@fas, Caitlin Hartman chartman@fas, Weekly writing workshops; teaching opportunities, 1-2 open mics per semester


Theater. Incredible. Totally student established and Student Run. Talk to Shawna Strayhorn strayhor@fas

Cultural Agents Initiative:
Bridging the gap between artists and the academy. Internationally focused.

VES department:
Classes. Professors. Great opportunity and great access to materials. (also, check the back of the building for rich dumpster-diving)

Beyond Harvard:

(not really so much activism, but a great place to take capoeira and samba classes, dance, hear great music and meet lots of dope people, particularly those involved in the large Brazilian immigrant community of the Boston area)

Blackout Arts Collective (BAC) is a grassroots coalition of artists, activists and educators working to empower communities of color through the arts. We use the tools of culture and education to raise awareness and catalyze action around the critical issues that impact our communities. We believe in the power of the creative process to transform lives, mobilize communities, and build a more just society. BAC is a national organization that operates through local action facilitated by our seven city chapters. Contact a chapter near you for information about membership, events, or programming.

Boston Chapter
The second oldest chapter of Blackout has become known for its dynamic performances at local venues like the Lizard Lounge and Piano's and its spearheading of the first Lyrics on Lockdown Tour in 2001. Contact

There is a great performance of Vagina Monologues that goes on in Jamaica Plain in Boston each year, which focuses particularly on the LGBT community and issues surrounding gender and sexuality.

Create a safe space for girls and women to examine and explore issues in our lives, share our stories, heal fro m trauma, develop strategies for dealing with a wide range of issues and support each other as women.
* Girl's Rap: support groups, guided by licensed counselors where internalized sexism and other barriers that keep girls and women from meeting their full potential are examined and broken while supporting each other and healing from life's traumas and experiences.
* What's the 411: circles for young women to think critically about society, the world and history through social justice education while making positive change through organizing in collaboration with our communities.
* Street Theater: Members create, direct and produce plays, which express our ideas, experiences and spirits through theater, spoken word, poetry, dance, music, hip hop, instruments, and visual art.
New Programming / Coming Soon:
* Urban Word: a multi-media project aiming to engage youth not involved in youth programs and or school.
* Our Sisters Behind the Wall: a project led by R & S members working with girls ages 14-16 who are incarcerated.
* School Based Reflect and Strengthen: R & S is in the process of building collaborations with several Boston Public Schools.

Contact: Erik Wissa
Hip Hop youth activist program with well established roots in Boston. See their website for more details. Part of American Friends Service Committee.

Artists For Humanity's mission is to bridge economic, racial and social divisions by providing underserved youth with the keys to self-sufficiency through paid employment in the arts.

La Casa de la Cultura / Center for Latino Arts (CLA) is a cutting-edge multi-functional community arts center whose mission is to preserve and promote Latino art. Conveying to both Latinos and non-Latinos the vitality of contemporary and traditional Latino cultural expressions, the Center offers performances, exhibits and classes in a variety of art forms, including: Latin jazz, folk dance and music, poetry, theater and the visual arts. The CLA combines our Jorge Hernandez Cultural Center (converted into a 450-person capacity performance venue from a historic church in 1986) with a new community arts center (historically renovated from the adjacent parish house in 2003) that includes a gallery, dance studio and visual arts studio.

CLA's goals are to provide high quality and affordable: Arts Education, particularly for at-risk youth in Villa Victoria; Advocacy, Coordination, Support and Incubation for Latino artists and arts organizations; Exhibition, Work, Rehearsal, Performance and Rental Space; and opportunities for Cross-Cultural Collaboration between Latinos and the rest of the city's diverse populations. Celebrating Boston's growing diversity, the Center for Latino Arts is taking shape as a new landmark in the city that will transcend Villa Victoria and the Latino community and become a fixture engraved into the cultural life of Boston as a whole. La Casa de la Cultura / Center for Latino Arts is a program of Inquilinos Boricuas en Acción (IBA). For more information, contact Javier Torres, Manager of the Arts and Culture Department at (617) 927-1737.

Contact: Giles Li
Boston Progress provides a safe space for Asian Pacific American perspectives to be expressed and observed through visual, performance and literary arts. Boston Progress seeks to build a sense of community among its membership, and outreach to APA communities by promoting the importance of art as a tool for community education and activism. Boston Progress values diversity of viewpoints in representing APA experiences and steadfastly opposes discrimination based on race, religion, sexual orientation, gender, ethnicity, age, appearance, disability or any other immutable characteristics.

EAST MEETS WEST BOOKSTORE (run by Boston Progress)
In Cambridge (right down Mass ave towards Central Square)
monthly open-mic series. completely volunteer-run (always looking for volunteers)

Contact: George Lee, Director: Mariama White Hammond
Project HIP-HOP (Highways Into the Past- History, Organizing & Power) is a youth-led organization. Hip hop culture and the history of resistance to injustice are our primary tools for engaging and developing young people as activists and organizers. We provide opportunities for young people to work together gaining the skills and experiences to educate and organize in their schools, communities and the broader society.

While we believe that movement requires the participation of many different peoples, Project HIP-HOP is particularly interested in building the skills of young people who are often labeled "at-risk." We believe that these youth are most in need of the resources we offer and are most keenly aware of the human reality of the injustices in our society.

Feminist bookstore
Monthly open-mic series

The mission of the Asian American Resource Workshop is to work for the empowerment of the Asian Pacific American community to achieve its full participation in the U.S. society.
We are a member-based organization that seeks to document the diverse Asian Pacific American histories, experiences, and social conditions. Our resource and activities are used to respond to current Asian Pacific American issues and to promote Asian Pacific American identity.
The AARW is located in the heart of Chinatown at the corner of Harrison Avenue and Beach Street 33 Harrison Ave., 5th floor, Boston, MA 02111.


Concert venue and restaurant that attracts both mainstream and underground performers. Also has had benefit concerts and welcomes local (even Harvard student) performers to the stage.

"Leftist Lounge is a gathering of people who strive to build a powerful social movement. We are people who believe that to mobilize for change, we must offer more than dry meetings with patronizing white liberals who attempt to contain real transformation. We understand that transformation is as personal as it is societal. Through celebration and affirmation of our creative power we can reshape the world...Leftist Lounge offers a sporadic party, giving space to the community to dance, eat, laugh, and inspire each other. We are the block party back in the day. We are there to celebrate life, creation, and change. You should be there too." (from website)
Location: Jorge Hernandez Cultural Center
85 West Newton St.
South End, Boston MA


In addition to leftist lounge, hosts many other events and performances.
The Jorge Hernández Cultural Center (JHCC) is a multi-functional dynamic rental facility converted into a 450-person capacity performance venue from a historic church in 1986. It is adjacent to La Casa de la Cultura (historically renovated from the adjacent parish house in 2003) that includes an art gallery, dance studio and visual arts studio.

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