What is abolition? What does abolition have to do with art? Why South Central LA? Why not South LA or Greater LA? Why grassroots? A one day conference posing questions to artists and arts facilitators, working within the grassroots, who have had influence in the international creative discourse and the movements towards abolition. Discussions will span from presenting the historical context of arts space making, either physical, intellectual or spiritual to creative movements away from state, carceral entities, surveillance and criminalization as well as from corporate institutions and charity foundations, towards community bridge building, autonomy and sustainability.
South Central Arts: Histories and Futures Conference is organized by The William Grant Still Arts Center along with ACLS/Mellon Faculty in Residence, Dr. Roshanak Kheshti, Associate Professor of Theater, Dance and Performance Studies at UC Berkeley along with partner organizations, Lula Washington Dance Theatre, LA Commons, St. Elmo’s Village, Kaos Network and The World Stage.
Confirmed invited panelists and presenters are: Ben Caldwell (Kaos), Dr. Daniel Widener, Nobuko Miyamoto (Great Leap), Ayuko Babu (Pan African Film Festival), Ulysses Jenkins (Othervisions Studio) Jackie Alexander (St. Elmo’s Village), Keisa Davis (REcharge LA & Heidelberg), Dr. Shamell Bell, Dr. Jalondra Davis, Eric Contreras, Ron Wilkins, Karen Mack (LA Commons) , Dexter Story, Hiram Sims (Library of Poetry), Lonzo Williams (World Class Wrecking Crew, Eve After Dark, NWA) and B. Hall (The Good Life)… Jewel Thais Williams (Catch One, Minority Aids Project, Village Health), Verbs (Bananas), Hosted by Dr. Fanon Wilkins . Musical performances by Marcus L. Miller, Kamau Daaood, Dwight Triblle and more. These practitioners, along with select invited in person guests have been working in creating spaces, either physically and/or imaginatively to give access to arts and experimentation within neighborhoods even contested in name, but defined by government entities as South Central Los Angeles (now South Los Angeles).
“South Central Arts: Histories and Futures” conference on May 14, 2022, aims to recenter a commitment to abolition among the arts spaces and the communities they serve in South Central Los Angeles, all of which are subject to forces of gentrification, heavy policing, high concentrations of houseless community members as well as great interest from culture industry brokers scouting for the “next big thing” emerging from within the neighborhood. The conference opens a space of collaboration toward an abolition of the predatory, carceral, extractive and racist forces displacing the community and a re-centering of the grassroots arts practices that contribute to the community’s thrivance.