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My Fellowship at The Clarice

The best thing you can do if you want to do something is to surround yourself with people who are already doing it. That’s what my internship at The Clarice has done. My name is Kutia Jawara and I’m a dancer, choreographer, and dance educator. My time here at The Clarice has exposed me to the inner workings of the world of arts presenting, and I’ve had many invaluable conversations and experiences. The Clarice is a performing arts presenting organization located at the University of Maryland College Park campus.

As a working artist, being able to observe the process of a panel of arts leaders deciding which artists, out of a number of competitive submissions, to award a project grant to was a vital experience. I gained insight into the subtleties and minute details that can sometimes make the difference between who gets an acceptance letter and who doesn’t. In my time at The Clarice I’ve gone from dreading meetings because I felt most comfortable in my own little bubble, to anticipating them because I know that I’ll be exposed to new, exciting ideas.

One of these exciting ideas is The Unity Project. Unity is an outdoor interactive public art installation that creates a visual representation of how seemingly individual identities and interests are interconnected. I worked with a group of UMD staff and students to bring the installation to The Clarice. This provided a valuable, hands on opportunity for me to see how different parts of the UMD community come together to get things done on campus.

The main project I’ve been working on here has been working with The Office of Campus and Community Engagement to expand the idea of engagement for the 17/18 season.

In this upcoming season, The Clarice is presenting many visiting artists whose work is community oriented and/or political by nature; not by force. We are giving the artists an opportunity to share their passions and community work off the stage. One example is the Belarus Free Theater. BFT is one of the leading refugee-led theatre companies in the UK and the only theatre in Europe banned by its government on political grounds. They have a postcard campaign that we’ll be sharing on our website and at the show. Another example is “The Bitter Game”; a one man play written and performed by Keith Wallace that explores the subtle and often unrecognized effects of racism, the question of police agency, and the value of Black lives in this country. After the opening night performance in September we’ll have an interactive “Know Your Rights” workshop. A lawyer will come share their knowledge of the law with the audience. This workshop will help increase the chances that we come out of any interactions with police with our physical and emotional health intact, and that our rights are respected along the way.

It’s our goal to show that the impact of the arts and artists reaches far beyond the stage for as many artists in the season as possible. Working on this engagement plan involves doing a lot of research on the artists and their work which has inspired me to create; but even more importantly it has expanded the possibilities that I envision for my own work. That’s the overall theme of my experiences at The Clarice, expansion; expansion of my goals and possibilities, my network and most importantly my views.

Kutia Jawara
Coppin State University, BA in Urban Arts
Dancer, Choreographer, and Dance Educator

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