Project 2050

project_2050America’s dramatically changing demographics inspired New WORLD Theater to launch one of their signature programs, a socially-engaged and youth-driven theater project addressing identity and injustice.

Demographers at the turn of the millennium expected to see a dramatic shift by mid-century. People of color would soon be the majority in the United States, experts projected. The news precipitated a multi-year youth arts initiative at New WORLD Theater in Amherst, Massachusetts, that brought together professional artists, area youth communities, scholars, and community activists. Their critical inquiries into the issues compelled by changing demographics took shape during Project 2050, a retreat at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, that resulted in civic dialogue and original performances. Participants imagined a near future when it will become imperative to address racial power imbalance and to move beyond the framework of multiculturalism.

Mass Humanities funded the project’s first year and supported the retreat as well as related fees for participating scholars and artists. Intergenerational, interracial, and cross-cultural participants found common ground through playwriting, poetry, breakdancing, drumming, beatboxing, lyricism, singing, songwriting, stepping, and visual art. Scholars hosted educational sessions each day.

From this initial retreat, New WORLD Theater developed a program that would secure them a place in the annals of American theater history. Artists, scholars, and cultural organizers still look to Project 2050 as a bold and progressive cultural experiment, one that still reverberates within the changing cultural politics of the 21st century.

New World Theater was awarded a $25,000 Major Grant to support seminars and workshops designed to generate artistic responses to themes that include personal and ethnic identity, injustice, and power relationships given the profound demographic changes that will be evident in the year 2050. [Project Director: Roberta Uno; Date Awarded: 6/8/01]
New World Theater was awarded a $5,000 Project Grant for “Knowledge for Power” sessions summer retreat, a yearly ten-day gathering of artists, scholars, and a racially diverse group of 45 Western Massachusetts youth, at which themes connected to the projected demographic shift of 2050 — when people of color will become the majority in the US — are explored through artistic and scholastic expression. [Project Director: Talvin Wilkes; Date Awarded: 3/12/04]
New World Theater was awarded a $5,000 Project Grant for the humanities component of Project 2050’s ten-day residential retreat for participating Massachusetts youth. This year’s theme confronts issues of “war” in all its forms and the gender implications of contemporary social, political, and military conflicts. [Project Director: Andrea Assaf; Date Awarded: 6/10/05]

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