Every Minute Matters
by, Ronit Muszkatblit, Director of Arts & Culture, Artistic Director of LABA
These days, when I watch a movie, or a video of a dance or theater piece, the first thing that strikes me is that I am watching a world from the past: the people are in crowded rooms together, they are hugging, touching and laughing, strangers together inside mingling with no worries. How can they dance this duet while in such close proximity? How can they all pack into a theater together? How can they shake hands and eat food inside so casually? I think to myself, “What they didn’t know was that they were capturing our past and, hopefully, maybe our not-too-far-off future.”
Our consciousness will never again be able to remember a time before this. Our kids will not have the notion of a world without masks, or a world where being confined to their homes for a period of lockdown is not a possibility. Empty schools, empty theaters, empty skyscrapers.
With so much emptiness already caused by this pandemic, to allow art to remain on hold feels unacceptable. In this world where we have lost togetherness, casual interactions, close physical community, school, work, safety, and so many lives—we must not allow art to be another casualty! Art, the spark that keeps us all buzzing, the creation of thought and feeling into experience, the priceless treasure that fuels us. We have a responsibility to keep it alive more than ever in a time when so much is being lost!
We are calling on you, dear supporters and friends, to support the Arts and the 14th Street Y and create light from darkness during these final days of 2020. Now, more than ever, we need artists to capture THIS present moment in time and not allow the arts to be yet another space that becomes dark and empty.
I joined LABA: A Laboratory for Jewish Culture, in 2010 as a theater artist fellow and I fell in love with the learning, the creative opportunities, and the inspiring integration of the artists into a community. This community is made up of wonderful, diverse artists connecting around classical Jewish text to inspire new reflections on the world.
The notion of an inspiring Jewish cultural community center emerged, and we were able to integrate arts and culture into all aspects of the 14Y’s programming. Our arts programming grew exponentially and we birthed art of different perspectives and mediums, forging the path for artists to shine their light to a greater audience. And then, amidst the creating and growing, one day last March everything shut down. We lost staff, countless productions, opportunities, work for artists and their teams, and we lost the fire that art brings to the world.
It is time to support these artists and help ignite the spark of art as we count down to the new year. We are slowly turning the tide and learning how to reflect this moment in the creative process, and we want to give artists the time, space and financial support to do just that.
We need your help to support them! Please consider donating to sponsor our new artist’s residency program, which will allow a diverse group of artists to collaborate safely and develop new work in the 14Y Theater. Together, we can build a better understanding of this time, and build hope from these dark days.
The New York Times theater critic Jesse Green writes:
“The pandemic and its concurrent plagues, having forced us to absorb a great deal of grief and fury, require a different kind of a theater today: a more concentrated theater, boiled to its essence. So give me the wailers and screamers, on the moor or in the living room. Give me the geniuses of self-amplification and the tragedians of even small things — the ones who understand, as we now do, that every minute matters.”
We understand, we feel, we see and we want to provide opportunities for the best storytellers of this moment—the artists. Be a part of turning darkness into light and ensuring that we can look back one day and know that this moment in time was captured by artists, and that artistic creation and expression will not be part of all that has been lost.
It’s the final countdown to the new year, and we’re already seeing new light in the 14Y Theater. Thanks to the generosity of our community and our funder CANVAS, we have already raised over $21,000 to support local artists through our new residency program!
This is a great start – and even though 2020 is almost over, we want to keep this light shining! That’s why we’re asking YOU to help us secure the final $2,000: enough funding to launch our artist residency next month.
When you give, your donation will be matched dollar-for-dollar by CANVAS, a Jewish Funders Network philanthropic collaborative dedicated to elevating the field of Jewish arts and culture.