Local arts and cultural organizations play an essential role in our communities. In difficult times, they often act as the elastic thread in the fabric of the community that keeps it together. The spaces they create act as amplifiers for the voices and archivists of community history and transformation. They serve, through their storytelling, as places of healing. 2020 was a year that highlighted the importance of these treasured institutions. As we have reached out to artists and leaders in our community, we hear a consistent need and desire to connect with one another and support each other in these times. ACF seeks to share our platform to bring our circles together and build relationships, share experiences, and strengthen our work through dialogue and artmaking.

On May 20-21, 2021 as part of the ACF Artist Equity Summit, we invited Twin Cities Arts Leaders to discuss their longtime history of work in the community; sharing the lessons they have learned, reflecting on the challenges they have encountered, and highlighting the successes they have celebrated.  

Dameun Strange, ACF Director of Community and Belonging, moderates two panel discussions that serve as a culmination of these earlier conversations. We hope, through this convening, we can encourage collaboration, audience development, and new opportunities for the exceptional artists who reflect our diverse city to create new artistic experiences. Dameun will be joined by artists Keno Evol, Black Table Arts, Sha Cage, TruRuts, Mary Anne Quiroz, Indigenous Roots, Alejandra Tobar-Alatriz, Rootsprings, Ananya Chatterjea, Ananya Dance Theatre, David Hamilton, Cedar Cultural Center, and Junauda Petrus-Nash, Free Black Dirt


May 20, 2021 4 PM

  • Keno Evol
  • David Hamilton
  • Alejandra Tobar-Alatriz

May 21, 2021 3 PM

  • Junauda Petrus-Nash
  • Sha Cage
  • Ananya Chatterjea
  • Mary Anne Quiroz

The Arts Leaders

Ananya Chatterjea

Ananya Chatterjea’s work as choreographer, dancer, and thinker brings together Contemporary Dance, social justice choreography, and a commitment to healing justice. She is artistic director of Ananya Dance Theatre, a dance company of BIPOC women & femmes, and co-founder of the Shawngrām Institute for Performance and Social Justice. In response to the Twin Cities Uprising (2020), she created the Kutumkāri (Relationship-making) Healing Movement series with a particular invitation to BIPOC women and femme healers. Her second book, Heat and Alterity in Contemporary Dance: South-South Choreographies, was published in 2020. She teaches Choreographing Social Justice, Dance History, and Contemporary Practice at the University of Minnesota. Ananya is currently creating Dastak, a dance theater work exploring borders, boundaries, home and belonging, with the support of an NPN Creation Fund, NDP Production Award, and a 2-part MANCC Residency. She is the recipient of the 2021 A. P. Andersen Award and a 2021 McKnight Choreography Fellowship.

Ananya Dance Theatre is the leading creator of contemporary dance in the global arts and social justice movement. Invoking the dreams of BIPOC Women, Womxn, and Femmes, we radically reframe the ground on which we dance, inspiring our audiences through visual and emotional engagement.


Keno Evol

Keno Evol is the founder and director of the Black Table Arts cooperative located in south Minneapolis. Evol is editor of A Garden Of Black Joy: Global Poetry From The Edges of Liberation And Living. At his core he is a facilitator of empathy and imagination.

Keno Evol’s work hones in on the literary arts and the black radical tradition as curriculum for the future. Evol has received the Verve Grant, the Beyond the Pure fellowship, The Emerging Writers Grant and The Spoken Word Immersion Fellowship for his work. His essays are available at MNArtists.com, through the Walker Art Center.

Black Table Arts is a community-driven arts cooperative located in Minneapolis, Minnesota gathering black communities through the arts toward better black futures. Complete with a bookstore, shared workspace, and a performance space, (BTA) makes bold the connection between art and grassroots organizing by providing programs that invite local artists to see themselves as change-makers and organizers of their collective liberation.


David Hamilton

Joining The Cedar Cultural Center in 2018 as the Executive Director, David led the organization on new organizational initiatives including access for local artists of color, diversity and inclusion training, a commitment towards racial justice, and new financial modeling which helped create a multi-year financial surplus for the organization. Previously, David served as the Director of Operations for Augsburg University’s Center for Global Education and Experience, where he was awarded for his work developing the Center’s work in experiential education, social justice and community engagement. As a qualified administrator for the Intercultural Development Inventory (IDI), David has worked on many Diversity and Inclusion initiatives. As the former Executive Director of Access Works, David led a cutting-edge social service agency providing harm reduction services to at-risk populations. David has an MA in African History from University of Minnesota, and a Mini-MBA for Nonprofit Organizations. David is also a jazz pianist.

Cedar Cultural Center The Cedar’s mission is to promote intercultural appreciation and understanding through the presentation of global music and dance. The Cedar is committed to artistic excellence and integrity, diversity of programming, support for emerging artists, and community outreach.


Junauda Petrus-Nasah

Junauda Petrus-Nasah is a writer, a soul sweetener, runaway witch, and performance artist of Black-Caribbean descent, born and working on unceded Dakota land in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Her work centers around wildness, queerness, Black-diasporic-futurism, ancestral healing, sweetness, shimmer and liberation. Her first YA novel, The Stars and The Blackness Between Them, received a Coretta Scott King Honor Award. And she really, really loves to eat and write about delicious food. She is the co-founder with Erin Sharkey of Free Black Dirt, a Black, experimental healing art collective. She is currently working on her second novel Black Circus, set in the 90s about a young, Black woman studying circus with a mysterious elder former circus performer.

Free Black Dirt Free Black Dirt is a performance company/art collective that creates original performance art that highlights and amplifies the black experience.


Mary Anne Quiroz

Mary Anne Quiroz, Islander Mama, Dancer, Artist Organizer and Community Activator. She was born in the Philippines and immigrated with her family to the Dakota Lands of Imniza Ska (East Side Saint Paul, Mni Sota). Together with her life partner and duality, they co-founded Kalpulli Yaocenoxtli, a traditional Mexican/Nahua/Aztec dance and community group in 2006, and Indigenous Roots in 2015. Quiroz is also a Co-Founder/Co-Director of Indigenous Roots Cultural Arts Center, where she and a coalition of artists, organizers and cultural groups provide accessible space and programming opportunities through arts, culture and activism. Guided by ancestral knowledge, Quiroz believes that arts and culture is an ecosystem in fostering well-being and generational wealth. Today, Quiroz continues to build collective power with and for Brown, Black, Native and Indigenous artists, organizers and community members in the Twin Cities and beyond.

Indigenous Roots provides accessible space and programming to promote and practice holistic well-being through indigenous arts, culture, and tradition. In May of 2017, the Indigenous Roots Cultural Arts Center opened as an incubator space for artists, cultural groups, and organizations dedicated to building, supporting, and cultivating opportunities for Native, Black, Brown, and Indigenous peoples.


Alejandra Tobar-Alatriz

Alejandra (Tobar Alatriz) is a queer, immigrant organizer, creator, and performing artist who co-founded the People’s Movement Center (2015-2020), a healing justice space centering BIPOC and GLBTQ bodies in South Minneapolis, MN. Founding Director at United Bodyworkers and Artists, she is also a board member of Indigenous Roots Cultural Arts Center, and a founding cooperative member with The Fields at Rootsprings, the only Black, Indigenous, People of Color-run retreat center in Minnesota. Alejandra brings 20+ years experience in creative place-making, organizational development, facilitation and training with communities across the country.

(Tobar Alatriz) is a storyteller and bodyworker. She descends from people of Chile and Mexico and lives on the unceded traditional territories of the Dakota people, St. Paul, Minnesota.

Rootsprings The Fields at Rootsprings is stewarding liberating space for BIPOC artists, activists, healers, and community centering LGBTQ folx. As a retreat center, they envision nurturing artistic and spiritual development steeped in revolutionary principles. we are guided by relationship building between people and the land for healing.


Sha Cage

Shá Cage is a writer, activist, theater/film performer, and director raised in MS and living in MN who has been called a change-maker, one of the leading artists of her generation, and a mover and maker. Her work has been featured in several publications including Blues Vision and The St. Paul Almanac, and her plays have been produced recently at Stages and Open Eye Theater. She holds both Emmy and Ivey awards and has been using art to elevate Black and Brown narratives through Tru Ruts for 20 years.

TruRuts Tru Ruts is an artistic organization based in Minneapolis with a history of high caliber work, ranging across all expressive media: films; theatre performances; music; workshops and residencies; radio; and visual art.


This activity is made possible by the voters of Minnesota through a grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board, thanks to a legislative appropriation from the arts and cultural heritage fund.