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Forming a Cultural Konbit

Friday, Nov 12, 2021
1:15pm EST/10:15am PST
Working Group: 90 min

Open Call Session
Presenters: Mina Matlon, Alison McNeil, Kaitlyn Wittig Mengüç

Drawing inspiration from the West African concept of konbit, unprogrammed Quaker meetings, and scholastic traditions of artistic critiques, Forming a Cultural Konbit will harness the collective work and wisdom of session participants in order to offer feedback and support on key issues or questions participants are struggling with in their respective areas of work. These seemingly disparate concepts are grounded in communal learning and support—from a focus on cooperative labor, to the rejection of a hierarchy, to the recognition that dialogue and debate can offer a critical investigation of contemporary practices towards action.

Structured as a working group, the session will invite participants to collaborate in the development of shared values and vision for the group, to exchange ideas and knowledge with the co-presenters and each other during a demonstration konbit, and to continue to learn from and support each other by considering strategies for reconvening over the course of the next year and beyond.

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Mina Matlon is an arts organizer, researcher, attorney, artist, and cultural equity advocate. Her research and organizing interests lie in the intersecting areas between arts and community development, with her practice particularly focused on issues involving food justice, Black land liberation, community memory and identity, and the protection and leveraging of traditional and community knowledge. Mina currently serves as the managing director of Imagining America: Artists and Scholars in Public Life, a national consortium of scholars, artists, designers, humanists, and organizers who imagine, study, and enact a more just and liberatory ‘America’ and world. Prior work includes co-founding the Canadian-U.S. advocacy collective Plural, serving as director of research for Dance/USA, and various positions within arts, media, and cultural organizations, domestic and international legal aid and policy organizations, higher education, and law. She is a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Interdisciplinary Research Leaders Fellow.

Alison T. McNeil is a nationally recognized award winning strategic thinker, educator, creative entrepreneur, and long-time advocate and catalyst for equity and justice in performing arts and education. For over 20 years, she has dedicated her career to addressing the disparities that exist in funding, hiring, and documenting impact. She’s led change efforts that have directly informed public and organizational policy, grantmaking, and strategic partnerships. She has also created invaluable spaces for women of color, authored numerous publications and delivered presentations on arts, racial equity, gender equity and systemic change.

Kaitlyn Wittig Mengüç is a performance artist, teaching artist, researcher, and arts administrator working at the intersection of arts, health, and disability. Kaitlyn has over 15 years of experience working in and managing community-grounded arts and culture nonprofit organizations throughout the United States. She earned her Bachelor of Arts in Theatre Arts from the University of Pittsburgh and her Master of Arts in Arts Administration and Policy from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. A passionate advocate for cultural equity, she is also a co-author of a landmark research report, Figuring the Plural: Needs and Supports of Canadian and US Ethnocultural Arts Organizations.