Beaty residency, civic engagement initiative announced

By Carole McFall
March 26, 2014

Emerson College announced a three-year civic engagement program and artist-in-residency with award-winning writer/performer Daniel Beaty on Tuesday, March 25, following a special public performance by the artist at the College’s Paramount Center.

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Daniel Beaty, center, new artist-in-residence at Emerson, with (from left) Jamie Gahlon, associate director of HowlRound, Kelly Bates, executive director of the Elma Lewis Center, San San Wong, senior program officer for the Barr Foundation, and David Dower, director of artistic programs for ArtsEmerson. (Photo by Nicole O'Neil)

Supported by a $350,000 grant from the Barr Foundation, Beaty’s residency will launch “I Dream: Boston” and feature multiple components, including presentations of his work by ArtsEmerson: The World On Stage; deep engagement with members of the campus community and organizations around the city, led by Emerson’s Elma Lewis Center for Civic Engagement, Learning, and Research; and the documentation and distribution of the activities of the “I Dream: Boston” project through HowlRound: a Center for the Theater Commons at Emerson.

A celebrated actor, singer, author, and innovator, Beaty shares his personal journey in his new book, Transforming Pain to Power: Unlock Your Unlimited Potential.

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Daniel Beaty performing at the Paramount Center on March 25. (Photo by Nicole O'Neil)

From growing up with a drug-addicted father and older brother to discovering his purpose, inspired by watching Dr. Martin Luther King, and eventually graduating from Yale University, Beaty transformed his life and developed a career as an internationally renowned artist. His work and its focus on transformation is the catalyst for the “I Dream” project, which is designed to roll out nationally during the period of his residency at Emerson College. “I Dream: Boston” will build on the success of the pilot in Los Angeles, “I Dream: Watts,” in collaboration with The Children’s Institute, Inc.

“This is a wonderful opportunity to engage multiple communities in discussions and workshops related to the complex, thought-provoking topics that Daniel Beaty covers in his writings and performances,” said Emerson President Lee Pelton. “I’m grateful for the support from the Barr Foundation for ‘I Dream: Boston’ and look forward to what will surely be a transformative experience for the Emerson community, our community partners, and the artist himself.”

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The Kendall Ramseur Band was featured in Daniel Beaty's performance at Emerson on March 25. (Photo by Nicole O'Neil)

Working in collaboration with Beaty, the Elma Lewis Center for Civic Engagement, Learning, and Research will connect youth and youth-serving organizations in Boston to programs and partnerships during the residency.

“We’re thrilled for this opportunity to provide a framework in which youth can find their own voice and potential, and engage in their communities whether it’s through watching a performance or participating in the residency’s transformative workshops,” said Executive Director of the Elma Lewis Center Kelly Bates.

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Boston City Councilor Tito Jackson with Daniel Beaty at the I Dream: Boston announcement on March 25. (Photo by Nicole O'Neil)

In addition to community workshops and performances presented by ArtsEmerson, Beaty’s residency will include open rehearsals and classroom visits. HowlRound provides an opportunity for “I Dream: Boston” to reach national and international audiences through live-streaming at HowlRound TV and its online journal and interactive map at www.howlround.com.

“I am thrilled to be able to help bring Daniel Beaty to Boston,” said San San Wong, Senior Program Officer for the Barr Foundation. “At the Barr Foundation, our arts and culture grant-making seeks to enhance Boston’s cultural vitality. One way we try to do this is to support innovative artists who can contribute to civic dialogue, addressing long-standing social challenges and inequities, like racism, segregation, and income and education disparities. Artists like Daniel powerfully lift up individual stories and engage diverse communities to imagine and enact a vibrant Boston.”

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Beaty signing books at the Paramount Center on March 25. (Photo by Nicole O'Neil)

Beaty held a yearlong residency at Emerson College in 2013, which culminated in performances of Emergency, presented by ArtsEmerson. The residency included engagements with Emerson students and events in communities throughout Boston. His three-year residency and launch of “I Dream: Boston” supported by the Barr Foundation officially begins in July 2014 and concludes in June 2017.

Director of Artistic Programs for ArtsEmerson David Dower has collaborated with Beaty over many years and across myriad projects. "I'm tremendously inspired by this ambitious project. Daniel is exactly the right artist to integrate the many facets of our potential at Emerson College to engage with our world. Through his artistry on stage, his authenticity in engagement with communities, and his clarity as a writer and teacher, he's uniquely suited to unlock the full possibility of how we can impact our city and our campus," said Dower.

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Daniel Beaty with author and activist Michael Patrick MacDonald at Emerson on March 25. (Photo by Nicole O'Neil)

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