The Concert of Colors Forum on Community, Culture & Race, one of the Arab American National Museum’s signature annual events, is a dynamic gathering of artists, activists and advocates who use art and dialogue as a tool for advocacy and community building. This year’s program will be presented virtually online. Breaking bread together is a tradition during this signature event; we hope you’ll tune in during dinner!
The Forum’s theme this year, What is Democracy? The Artists Respond. speaks directly to this year’s theme of the festival, Art & Democracy.
The Forum will feature performance artist, comedian, writer and elected representative Kristina Wong as keynote speaker, along with panelists/performers Dalia Basiouny, Dr. Nativo, Aja Salakastar, Will Calhoun and moderator Charles Ezra Ferrell.
Find more information from the Arab American National Museum HERE
Kristina Wong is a performance artist, comedian and writer who has presented across North America, the U.K. and Hong Kong. Her most notable touring show, Wong Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, looks at the high rates of depression and suicide among Asian American women. Her work has been awarded with grants from Creative Capital, The MAP Fund, the Center for Cultural Innovation, the Durfee Foundation, the National Performance Network, six Artist-in-Residence grants and a COLA Master Artist Fellowship from the Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs. She is currently touring The Wong Street Journal, which navigates white privilege as an Asian American “Mzungu” in East Africa. Her newest show is titled Kristina Wong for Public Office and is a campaign-style comedic performance that will leave guests questioning the present state of politics and campaign methods.
Dalia Basiouny is an Egyptian writer, theatre maker, social activist, bio-farmer, academic and translator. Her theatre work includes directing 20 plays performed in Egypt, England, U.S., Morocco, Iraq, Zimbabwe, Ethiopia and Germany. Basiouny’s theatre and academic work focuses on the role of women in theatre. Her Ph.D. from CUNY Graduate Center explores the political theatre of Arab American Women after 9/11. She established Sabeel for the Arts in Cairo, 1997, an independent group that promotes women’s work and explores new ways of telling women stories in theatre and on film. She is a recipient of many awards including the Fulbright Arts Grant, U.S.A.; the British Council Chevening Scholarship, UK; and theatre production award from the Arab Fund for Arts and Culture (AFAC) 2010 for her play Solitaire.
Guatemala’s Doctor Nativo is one of Central America’s most exciting new talents. His music layers Mayan spirituality, social activism and folk wisdom over a propulsive sound combining reggae, cumbia, hip hop and pre-Columbian instruments. His debut album, Guatemaya, is a call for social justice for his country’s indigenous majority. At a young age, Nativo dedicated his life to music, busking his way through Europe, India and Latin America, before landing in Cuba to study at the Escuela Nacional de Arte in Havana. Eventually, he settled in Barcelona, where he played music in the street and mastered his art through direct contact with the people. His second studio album, La Kocina del Doctor Nativo, is set for release in Fall 2021.
Salakastar is a Detroit born and based actor, singer-songwriter, poet and teaching artist working in theatre, television, film and music. She earned her BFA and completed her classical acting training at the State University of New York at Purchase College. She is an ensemble member at A Host of People, a member of the touring company of I, Too, Sing America at the Michigan Opera Theatre, and a founding member of iii Sisters, a Detroit-based feminist writing ensemble. She is a 2018 Gilda Award Winner and a 2020 Kresge Artist Fellow in Live Arts. Her debut album All Blue: Part One (Majorelle!) will be released independently through her label Salakastudios in 2021. Outside of her professional artistic practice, she loves fashion, spending time with her cat, listening to records, being an auntie and making delicious vegan meals.
The legendary Will Calhoun is a musical shaman and a graduate of the Berklee College of Music where he received his degree in Recording and Engineering as well as the Alumni Lifetime Achievement Award in 2019. Will is also a 2-time Grammy winner and 4-time nominee with the genre bending iconic rock band LIVING COLOUR, and produced Herb Alpert‘s Colors CD, and Mos Def‘s Black Jack Johnson Project. Will has invested over 25 years of personal research in Mali, Morocco, Senegal, the Outback of Australia, Belize and Northern Brazil to document and study the true history of drums, rhythm, sonic vibrations and their impact on modern music. Will is an inventor and avid user of technology and its unique role in creating music.
Charles Ezra Ferrell is Senior Vice President for Development and Global Programs at Keiga Foundation headquartered in Roseville, MI, with operations in Kampala, Uganda and Kassel, Germany. Ferrell is responsible for developing cultural exchange, literacy and social justice programs, in addition to expanding institutional partnerships and charitable giving. His extensive programming portfolio received international acclaim from leading scholars, activists and patrons for its quality and cultural relevance. Ferrell is a board member of the Concert of Colors, the General Baker Institute, The Walter Rodney Foundation and the Association for the Study of African American Life and History.