Bill T. Jones
Meany’s mission is to provide opportunities for diverse artists, community, students and faculty to connect, discover and explore the boundless power of the arts to create positive change in the world.
In 2022, we launched a new initiative: each year we would invite a leading artist to join us in programming a Meany Season, bringing new perspectives.
Photo: Robin Holland
Inviting New Perspectives
For our first Artistic Partner, we aimed high, enlisting choreographer Bill T. Jones to help curate the 2022-23 Season in partnership with New York Live Arts.
Bill gave us an opportunity to take chances on work that was challenging in both form and content and expanded Meany's aesthetic reach. The artists he chose—South African choreographer Robyn Orlin and performer Albert Ibokwe Khosa; Choreographer Abby Z. and her company the New Utility; singer, song-writer and filmmaker Saul Williams; vocalist Holland Andrews; and artist, playwright and performance artist Daniel Alexander Jones—reflected Bill’s fierce engagement with the issues of our times and his commitment to showcasing artists whose work speaks truth to power.
The result, Becoming: At Home in the World, broke exciting new ground at Meany, introduced artists and art forms that seldom appear at venues like ours, and increased our engagement with new partners and communities across Seattle and with faculty and students on campus.
Supporting Innovative Artists
Photo: Arun Kumar
Supporting artists’ creative process is one of the most important things we do. In the 2022–23 Season, Meany Center co-commissioned five new works in dance and music.
Step Afrika!’s percussive new work, Drumfolk, was a visceral depiction of the 1739 Stono Rebellion, the largest uprising of enslaved people in the Southern states, and its impact on Black lives and Black culture down to the present day.
Ragamala Dance Company is committed to the idea that while history is time bound, the stories we share are timeless. Meany both co-commissioned and presented the world premiere of their latest work, The Fires of Viranasi, an immersive ritual for the stage where time is suspended and humans merge with the divine.
In music we commissioned two new chamber pieces by the multifaceted German composer Jörg Widmann for the Juilliard Quartet, as well as a slate of new songs by American composer and singer-songwriter Gabriel Kahane for his latest album, Magnificent Bird.
Increasing Our Reach
In February, we hired a new Digital Marketing Manager who repurposed existing video to create stories for social channels, as well as creating a steady stream of new and exciting content to keep our social media fresh. The results were immediate and impressive: a doubling of Instagram followers; a 26% increase in engagement across all channels; and a 501% increase in video views over last year.
To deepen engagement, we selected several productions whose audiences would benefit from a greater understanding of background and context and interviewed artists and experts about the work.
For example, audience members who had seen our interview with Grant Gershon and Peter Sellars before attending the LA Master Chorale’s performance of Lagrime di San Pietro understood on a deep level how fiendishly difficult that performance was. And Professor Catherine Cole’s discussion of South African performance art during Apartheid provided critical context for Robyn Orlin’s And so you see... our honourable blue sky and ever enduring sun... can only be consumed slice by slice... performed by Albert Ibokwe Khoza.