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Herberger Institute’s Projecting All Voices initiative explores diversity in the arts

The initiative aims to offer support to artists who may struggle with issues of diversity

Erika Moore Nov 3

ASU alumna Erika Moore poses for a picture at Grand Central Coffee in downtown Phoenix on Friday, Nov. 3, 2017.

The Herberger Institute's Projecting All Voices initiative, an opportunity to explore diversity and inclusion in the arts that's in its pilot year, is focusing is on developing the concept of mentorship, officials with initiative say. 

ASU alumna Erika Moore is leading the initiative as program manager. The initiative consists of multiple postgraduate fellows who are working with Herberger faculty Michael Rohd, Liz Lerman and Daniel Bernard Roumain in a mentoring capacity, she said.

“(Projecting All Voices) focuses on providing support to artists of underrepresented communities in every facet of the development of their career,” Moore said.

One of the initiative's long-term goals is to support artists from high school to college and offer a form of support that not only impacts the artist but the schools as well.

“The idea is that when you provide this to an artist, they will be able to advance in their field,” Moore said

The need for this kind of support comes from the lack of actual help being offered from arts organizations, she said.

“Most of those organizations are not run by people who understand the communities that they are saying they are impacting,” Moore said. “So to strategize and position leadership to where it’s equitable, to where it's inclusive — this program is mighty, but small.”

The collaborators of the initiative each have personal visions for their own success that are in line with the program's overall goals. 

Yvonne Montoya, a University of Arizona alumna, is a Projecting All Voices postgraduate fellow in dance. She is specifically passionate about advocating for local artists in southwestern Phoenix.

“I’m really working towards moving the dials, getting the resources and looking at those under-served populations in our community,” Montoya said. “I’m very interested in growing our own and supporting our own local art makers, to help them find their art-aesthetic voices.”

Montoya said there are many rural communities throughout the southwest that are underserved when it comes to the arts. Through this program, she hopes to address that.

“The equity and social justice piece of this is really important, and it's very encouraging for me to see this type of initiative here in the southwest," Montoya said. "I look forward to seeing it grow, and all of the different artists that are going to come out of this."

Alejandro Tey, a Northwestern University alumnus, is a Projecting All Voices theater fellow. His personal motives include helping build opportunities for others, as well as working on personal projects he wouldn't otherwise dedicate time to, he said. 

“Setting it up so that folks who are brilliant artists but are maybe not used to navigating the big systems and bureaucracies of academia and of a huge institution like ASU, will maybe have an easier time and maybe easier inroad,” Tey said.

Helping upcoming artists who are new to the environment is a big motivation for Tey. With the support of Projecting All Voices, Tey is not only finding ways to make this project more accessible to small communities but also dedicating time to learning more about his own family history.

“This project is like the culmination of a lot of threads that I’ve been pulling on, having to do with my family and what it means to be sort of second generation Cuban American,” Tey said.

To further explore the concept of diversity while simultaneously learning of his own roots, Tey is currently documenting the story of his grandparents who were counterrevolutionaries against Fidel Castro.

“I feel like change happens in that moment, when people can understand a story that is different than their own," Tey said. 

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