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Supporting Our Campus

2021 Impact Report-p4 aerial-PETER NGUYEN.jpg

Photo: Peter Nguyen

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.
Good thing, since many of the students on our campus today will be the artists, audiences and civic leaders in our community tomorrow.

Backstage Pass

As a requirement for her dance degree, double-major Alicia Moore needed “crew experience” — i.e., working backstage — so she asked Meany Center Technical Director Tom Burke if she could volunteer to work on a show. He hired her — with pay! — to help with the pre-hang and tear down of What Problem?, Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Company’s latest work.

Alicia was also selected to be in the community cast; fortunately, performance and tech schedules didn’t overlap, so she was able to do both.
Working with the Meany tech crew was a positive experience — “everyone was so kind and welcoming,” but the highlight for Alicia was working with Bill T. Jones. “What a legend!” she said. 

“It was terrifying. But I’m glad I did it. It really made me appreciate how vulnerable Bill T. Jones allows himself to be every day to do this kind of work.”

Seven Minutes

In January, pianist Simone Dinnerstein played contemporary composer Joseph C. Phillips Jr.’s Never Has Been Yet. This seven-minute piece takes its title from a line in Langston Hughes’ Let America Be America Again and incorporates a portion of that poem into the work. Simone asked Meany to find the right person to narrate the poem and we were lucky enough to discover that person within our own ranks — UW theater major Taylor Freeman, one of our student ushers!

Though the UW junior only rehearsed with Simone for a few hours over two days preceding the performance, she had already spent several weeks combing over the poem, researching and applying her knowledge and training to it.

Taylor was nervous at first — this would be her first time performing in a professional production and with an artist of Dinnerstein’s caliber — but she found Simone to be kind, welcoming and supportive, allowing and encouraging Taylor to fully embrace her own artistry in interpreting Hughes’ words.

Cynthia Mullis

Taylor Freeman and Simone Dinnerstein

As for the impact those seven minutes had on her, Taylor says: “I can’t begin to put into words what this experience meant and did for me; as a student, this was rewarding because it gave me first-hand experience performing professionally, while still having the educational setting to support me. It was a dream that I will carry with me and reflect on in my future work.” 

Expert Witness

While preparing for the world premiere of her new live show and podcast, Movement LIVE, Ethiopian American musician Meklit visited students in the Jackson School’s African Studies program to discuss francophone music. She also joined the class Art, Music and Feminist Resilience, offered through the Department of Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies, to discuss how musicians and artists transform feminist traditions throughout and beyond the US borderlands.


Meklit’s lived experience as a woman artist of color born in Africa and raised in the United States brought a unique perspective to both these subject areas, raising the conversations far above the merely academic

Dear Meklit and Everyone,


Thank you so much for making this happen. It was an invaluable experience for my students who had much to say afterwards.


I would love to get students more involved with Meany.


Those who attended Movement LIVE! were so blown away by the experience. I’ll definitely be on the lookout for things that would go well with my courses.” 

                            Professor Maya Smith,

                            Chair, African Studies

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