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Broadway Advocacy Coalition and Columbia Law School Announce Course Focused on Bridging Artistry and National Call to Rethink Policing and Criminal Justice System

Stage Directions • Industry NewsTheatre Buzz • November 17, 2020

The Broadway Advocacy Coalition (BAC) and Columbia Law School will continue their multi-year partnership with the announcement of the first full semester course offering entitled The Theater for Change: Reimagining Justice Through Abolition. Applications are now open to participants from any artistic discipline interested in learning how to use their own skills and expertise for social change. The course will run from January 21, 2021 through April 8, 2021. Participants will be compensated for participation in this course.

The course blends artistry, law, policy, and community engagement to produce powerful artistic projects with the potential to change the broken criminal justice system and imagine new ways forward. Amidst resounding calls to abolish the current state of the country’s criminal legal system, notably prisons and the police, the arts provides a critical space to imagine alternatives and promote those ideas as achievable realities. The semester will focus on issues of abolition, reimagining justice and strengthening communities. It will be informed by the expertise of community leaders with extensive experience both fighting and feeling the effects of these systems.

Artists will join forces with law students and community advocates to create performance pieces that envision a path to abolition and strategize how and where these performances can occur to achieve sustainable impact. The course will also build artistic capacity to merge high quality, high impact, rigorous artistry with community narratives, policy analysis and effective policy advocacy. The goals of this course are not only to facilitate an exchange of ideas across disciplines, but to form lasting partnerships that can continue to generate game-changing work into the future.

To apply, please visit

Applications will be processed beginning December 6, 2020 and participants will be selected and informed by late December 2020.

An informational session will be held on Tuesday, November 24th from 6:30-7:30pm EST. Participation is encouraged but not required for artists interested in the course. RSVP for the informational session via this form.

The Theater of Change was originally created by Britton Smith (Be More Chill, Shuffle Along), Ben Wexler (2019 Jonathan Larson Grant Winner), Zhailon Levingston (Tina: The Tina Turner Musical) and Columbia Law School professor and Director of the Center for Institutional and Social Change Susan Sturm. This year’s course will be led by Dria Brown, Zhailon Levingston, Nia Robinson, Alejo Rodriguez, Britton Smith, Leia Squillace, and Susan Sturm.

Further information from The Broadway Advocacy Coalition:

About the Broadway Advocacy Coalition
Founded in 2016 by members of the Broadway community as a direct response to the nation’s pandemic of racism and police brutality, the Broadway Advocacy Coalition is a multidisciplinary organization which unites artists, legal experts and community leaders to create lasting impact on policy issues from criminal justice reform to education equity to immigration. Via its partnership with the Center for Institutional and Social Change at Columbia Law School, BAC has collaborated with institutions across New York City, including the New York City Council, Bronx Defenders, and the Brooklyn District Attorney’s office. To learn more about their work, and to get involved, visit their website or follow them on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

About The Center for Institutional and Social Change
Founded in 2007, the Center for Institutional and Social Change at Columbia Law School (CISC) facilitates the collaboration of scholars, practitioners, community advocates, students, policymakers, and artists striving to address structural inequality through institutional transformation. Participants develop new frameworks, strategies, and roles directed at reducing mass incarceration, advancing educational opportunity, and achieving anti-racist, equitable, and inclusive institutions. CISC highlights the crucial role of directly affected individuals and communities in mobilizing change, and is committed to building the leadership capacity of those groups to do transformational change work. CISC strives to be a hub where advocates with direct experience with the criminal legal system are able to tap into new and existing networks, connect with artists and legal actors, and receive the support necessary to leverage impact for their change work–an incubator for people with creative ideas around education and incarceration.


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