They say that those who do not learn history are doomed to repeat it, but who wrote the history we learn in the first place?
NEW YORK (AP) — For “Hamilton” creator Lin-Manuel Miranda, the inspirations for art and philanthropy are inextricably linked.
On Wednesday, Miranda is announcing a series of donations to organizations that serve immigrants, whose experiences are central to the new film version of his hit Broadway musical “In the Heights.”
“For me,” Miranda told The Associated Press, “philanthropy and artistic inspiration kind of come from the same place.”
He is forever drawn to what he calls “the things that don’t leave you alone.” Immigration, he said, is both a passion and a foundational element of his work.
“In the Heights,” he noted, centers on immigrants from the Caribbean and Latin America living in New York City. And “Hamilton,” he said, “is sort of the proto-immigrant story.”
“I think I am in awe of people who can make an impossible leap to leave everything they know behind and start a new life here,” he said. “And I think it’s one of the great things about our country.”
In honor of the Fourth of July, the Miranda Family Fund awarded a total of $225,000 in grants to immigrant rights groups and policy reform advocates throughout the country. The recipients are Arizona’s Pima County Justice for All, California’s Coalition for Human Rights Los Angeles, Colorado Immigration Rights Coalition, Michigan’s Arab Community Center for Economic and Social Services, Texas’ Las Americas Immigrant Advocacy Center, Utah Refugee Connection, Asian Americans Advancing Justice in Washington, and both Alianza for Progress and Orlando Center for Justice in Florida.
Luis Miranda Jr., Lin-Manuel’s father and co-founder of the MirRam Group, a political consulting firm that has worked on campaigns for Democratic Sens. Hillary Clinton, Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, said all the recipients were recommended by friends of the family in the field of immigration.
It was important to the Mirandas to make the grants unrestricted, so the money would go to “whatever the organization believes is important,” Luis said. “It’s going to make a difference.”
“They know what they need,” Lin-Manuel added.
Though the Miranda Family Fund has been active for years in donations to the arts community, especially arts education, the donations announced Wednesday mark an expansion in its giving for immigration, which previously included working with the Hispanic Federation to establish the Immigrants: We Get the Job Done Coalition.
The fight for immigrants’ rights became a much larger part of the film version of “In the Heights” than it was in the musical that opened on Broadway in 2008. Lin-Manuel said the idea to make the character of Sonny a DREAMer, an undocumented immigrant who has Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) status, came from Quiara Alegria Hudes, who wrote the screenplay.
“Immigration was on the front page in a totally different way in the past few years,” Lin-Manuel said. “So in updating it, it sort of only made sense to make that a part of the conversation because that is part of the conversation here uptown in our communities. And so what’s so brilliant about Quiara’s choice to make Sonny struggle with his undocumented status is that he’s the most New Yorkian character. He’s the one who said, ‘If I had $96,000, I would fix my neighborhood.’ “
Luis added that they had that character in mind in choosing the organizations to help.
“It’s to make sure that we continue to help those organizations that are helping people like Sonny — refugees, immigrants, people who are coming and are trying to figure out how to make it here,” he said.
Lin-Manuel said that highlighting the story of an undocumented immigrant was important to him.
“I think that’s one of the things art can do that headlines can’t always do,” he said. “Now, you feel like, you know someone who’s going through this. You know Sonny, and it just it goes into your bloodstream in a different way.”
He said the donations are another way of demonstrating support.
“We’re at our best when we’re celebrating our promise,” Lin-Manuel said. “So many people come here from all over the world because of this promise that we export — and that we so often fall short of. If you work hard, there is a possibility of a better life. We want to help the organizations that help to make that possible for folks who make that journey.”
Lin-Manuel said it’s vital to showcase both the successes and the struggles of being an immigrant.
“The trick is not to look at it through rose-colored glasses, but through really clear eyeglasses,” he said. “It’s always something that we can be working on, always something we can do better.”
He holds his own work to that idea as well. The release of the movie version of “In the Heights” created controversy because there were no dark-skinned, Afro-Latino characters in the film’s lead roles. Lin-Manuel issued an apology and promised “to do better in my future projects.”
“Every time you make a frame, you hear from the folks who say, ‘Hey, I’m not in the frame’,” he said. “I take that learning with me to the next project. But I also know, because I live here, how proud this neighborhood is of this movie. Afro-Latinos and Latinos of every shade and how seen they feel and I can understand what I can do better next time. I’m holding space for all of it. I think that’s the only way to grow as an artist. ‘Hamilton’ got criticism. Everything I do gets criticism. And I can take it and I can grow from it.”
“You have to understand I started writing ‘In the Heights’ because I didn’t feel seen,” he continued. “So I am also hoping that someone is going to see ‘In the Heights’ and say, ‘That wasn’t my story’ and write their own. I would be thrilled by that.”
One thing that is not on Lin-Manuel’s mind, though, is returning to “Hamilton,” which is set to reopen on Broadway on Sept. 14. Theorists were noticing Lin-Manuel’s longish hair recently and wondered whether he was planning a return to the Tony award-winning smash.
He’s not. And he cut off his hair to prove it, which Luis happily tweeted out.
“I have three more movies coming out this year, right?” said Lin-Manuel, referring to the animated “Vivo” out this summer, Disney’s “Encanto” this fall and his directorial debut “Tick, Tick… Boom.” “I don’t have the bandwidth to jump back in the show.”
The Associated Press receives support from the Lilly Endowment for coverage of philanthropy and nonprofits. The AP is solely responsible for all content.
They say that those who do not learn history are doomed to repeat it, but who wrote the history we learn in the first place?
As someone who has been deeply passionate about the arts from a very young age, I’ve often found myself at odds with this question. Over the years, my interest in the arts has led me to take classes throughout high school and university. I’ve also volunteered at the Woodstock Art Gallery, where I currently work as a front desk attendant summer student.
Throughout my exposure to the arts, I’ve learned the discipline, like many others, is built upon the works and contributions of those who came before. Ultimately, within the uniqueness of every piece of art, something innately human is revealed. Yet, the more I read about old masters like Michelangelo, Da Vinci, and Raphael, the more I can’t help but wonder – where were all the women artists? When I gathered the courage to ask my former art teacher why the majority of our art history curriculum catered to white men, the answer I was met with was simply this: “It is difficult to learn about female artists in art history because there’s hardly any significant female artists to talk about in the first place.”
So why is there a lack of female artists to begin with?
Many, including myself, might at first assume that women just aren’t as capable as men in terms of artistic ability. In her 1971 essay, Why Have There Been No Great Women Artists, art historian Linda Nochlin writes the mere question “falsifies the nature of the issue at the same time that it insidiously implies its own answer: ‘There have been no great women artists because women are incapable of greatness.’” The fact that these assumptions still linger is a testament to the shortcomings of art history. What is the actual reason behind the distinct gender gap we see in art today, and to what extent has historical bias influenced our current perception of the art world?
It goes without saying that women’s underrepresentation and lack of recognition in Western art history is complicated. Women were historically excluded and actively discouraged from partaking within the same spheres as men, including the artistic sphere. Women were likewise barred from entering art academies, undergoing formal artistic training, or even acquiring an education in general – the very building blocks to becoming an artist in the first place. The quintessential middle-class, white, male archetype associated with the default “ideal artist” prevailed because aspiring female artists were excluded from these institutions that helped cultivate artistic proficiency.
As Nochlin explains, one example of gender-based institutional discrimination can be seen through women’s access to life drawing during the 19th century. Due to the rising popularity of history painting at the time, life drawing was seen as a mandatory prerequisite to one’s artistic cultivation. Even once women were finally allowed into life drawing classes, they were burdened with the responsibility to have their works remain modest – a restriction that did not apply to men – despite the common belief that “there could be no great painting with clothed figures.” The male administration specifically prohibited nude models from appearing in anything less than “partially draped.” While men could undergo artistic training without restraints, women often faced hostility when fighting for equal footing within those same institutions.
All in all, to truly learn from history, we must also understand the foundations on which it was written. Though notable names such as Artemisia Gentileschi, Berthe Morisot and Frida Khalo have gained considerable mainstream notoriety, it remains true that the number of male artistic masters still outnumber the women. While we cannot rewrite the past, we can add nuance to how it’s told.
As I’ve learned in my time at the Woodstock Art Gallery, one place we can start is right here at home. The gallery’s 2019 exhibition, Given Her Due: Oxford County Women Artists 1880–1908, showcases the work of talented and sometimes overlooked female artists of this region, including Eva Bradshaw, Betty McArthur, Jaquie Poole, Fryke Oostenbrug, and more. You can explore a 3D virtual tour of this exhibition online at www.woodstockartgallery.ca. The gallery’s permanent collection also highlights the artwork of Florence Carlyle, who broke boundaries as a prominent Canadian painter in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Carlyle – along with other notable female artists in the collection – is featured in the current exhibition My Favourite Artwork, which launched when the Woodstock Art Gallery reopened on Aug. 3.
Vicky Lin is the front desk attendant at the Woodstock Art Gallery. The Woodstock Art Gallery acknowledges the support for this position, which is funded by two federal student employment programs: Young Canada Works and Canada Summer Jobs.
Some of the Sunshine Coast’s young musical-theatre talent will be showing what they can do when they hit the stage this weekend at the Heritage Playhouse in Gibsons. The production team Synergy at Play, led by Varya Rubin and Bill Moysey, has been running a two-week performance intensive for youth, preparing for their show, A Little Bit of Broadway. There will be three performances: Friday, Aug. 6 at 7 p.m., and Saturday, Aug 7 at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. Seats are limited due to ongoing pandemic protocols. Tickets are $15, $10 for kids aged six to 12, five and under are free. Available at email@example.com.
There’s a passion to hear live, in-person performance here on the Coast after close to 17 months of doing without. Shows are selling quickly. You cannot get tickets now to see the Rogue Arts Festival show with Brothers in Farms and Staggers and Jaggs at the 101 in Gibsons on Saturday, Aug. 7, the Brandon Isaak concert at the Clubhouse Restaurant in Pender Harbour on Aug. 8, or the SoulShine Garden Concert with Dawn Pemberton on Aug. 12. But there is still plenty to enjoy. Here are just a few of the musical offerings in coming days (check the Coast Reporter’s Community Calendar and Coast Cultural Alliance’s website for more). Shows marked “free” may also feature a handy tip jar:
Charlotte Wrinch plays the Clubhouse Restaurant at the Pender Harbour Golf Club on Friday Aug. 6 from 5 to 9 p.m. On Sunday, Aug. 8, The Burying Ground will be there with its great, toe-tapping vintage jazz-blues from 2 to 5 p.m.
The Roberts Creek Legion is opening its stage for individuals or groups to play on Friday, Aug. 6 from 4 to 8 p.m. To reserve performance or jamming time, email firstname.lastname@example.org. The Burying Ground plays there Saturday, Aug. 7 from 4 to 9 p.m.
At noon on Saturday, Aug. 7, at the Sechelt Summer Music Series behind the library, hear the reggae rhythms of Pete Catastrophe, followed at 1 p.m. by the Wanda Nowicki Trio. Free.
The 1 p.m. show at Music in The Landing at Winegarden Park in Gibsons features the Gambier Island acoustic duo, Kansas and Johnny. At 7 p.m., electric grit-blues maestros Georgia Fats will get you smiling and swaying. Bring a lawn chair or blanket. Free.
The vocal and guitar stylings of Martinez will be on tap from 2:30 to 4:30 p.m. at Tapworks in Gibsons, Saturday, Aug. 7.
Slow Sundays in The Creek, behind the library in Roberts Creek, has another creatively varied lineup for Aug. 8. The Whirlwind Woodwind Quintet starts things off at noon, with teen singer-songwriter Kaishan performing at 1 p.m., and the Martini Madness Band at 2 p.m. Free.
Indoor seating is still limited, but the Coast’s two main movie theatres have reopened. Raven’s Cry Thetare in Sechelt is screening films nightly, as is Gibsons Cinema, which is also running weekend matinees. Check your local listings.
Six sets of two posters each that are showing up in vacant store windows in downtown Timmins are the work of two Toronto artists. They are, however, on the theme of “Living in Timmins.”
The artwork is financed by a Toronto-based organization dedicated to brightening up downtowns.
Timmins BIA executive director Cindy Campbell says that group will issue a public call for artists this fall.
“Based on Northern Ontario and especially Timmins’ participation,” she points out, “they’re specifically reaching out to indigenous and northern artists to become part of the roster so their artwork can be shown across Canada.”
Campbell says any time someone stops to look at the art, they could realize that there’s potential in that store space.
“All of a sudden that maybe Mom and Pop business idea that was in the back of your head becomes a reality,” she remarks. “‘If I can showcase my products like they’re showcasing what they’re doing, I have a chance at a business.’”
The art was officially unveiled on Wednesday at the following addresses:
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