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From Artistic Joy to Collective Wellness with Marc Bamuthi Joseph 

At Meany Center, we believe that art-focused, youth-centered, mental health today is a key ingredient in an equitable and inspired social future. Our 2023–24 season engagement with Marc Bamuthi Joseph begins our journey of imagining Meany as a cultural hub that facilitates accessible pathways from artistic joy to collective wellness. In this coming year, our engagement team will be gathering various communities of practice together with Marc — who is engaged for five separate virtual and in-person residency visits — to imagine ways to normalize arts spaces as hubs for mental and emotional wellness for young people of all kinds.

In conversation with Ed Taylor, Vice Provost and Dean of Undergraduate Academic Affairs, Marc discusses his partnership with Meany Center and talks about art-making as a conduit to a transformative future and artistic inquiry as a model for creating a culture of joy and wellbeing.


We began our partnership with Marc Bamuthi Joseph in 2021, with Sozo Vision’s Healing Forward program, through which Meany Center staff identified the mental health of our student population at UW to be a top priority and a place where we felt we were well positioned to make a meaningful impact. This season we will explore the various ways that Meany’s programs can support the wellness of young people in our region, together with our partners who are committed to these values in their work with students on the UW campus and with youth in our surrounding communities.

Look for opportunities to engage with us around these ideas, including Marc’s UW Public Lecture at Town Hall on March 5, 2024. Marc’s residency with Meany will also include the premiere of his newest piece, Carnival of the Animals, at Meany Center on Saturday, April 6, 2024. 

To learn more about this initiative, please contact our engagement manager, Kristen Kosmas:

Marc Bamuthi Joseph — Artist Statement

I’m an artist. My job is social impact. I don’t have time to *not* be hopeful… I’m an artist…culture is rare air in the lungs of the body politic…I work to remember those who can’t breathe… I’m the father of a college student taking a class in the ethics of artificial intelligence. He shares with me pieces of his classroom debates surrounding the morality and accountability of not yet sentient intellectual labor. We talk a lot about the integrity of *making*…of the variables that separate art objects from true art. There are machines everywhere that can codify words, sounds, and physical material, but who among us, which humans within the tenuous confines of a troubled democracy, will forthrightly embrace the responsibility of narrativizing the future?… I am an artist, a father, a first generation American, and a cultural futurist embracing the privilege of residence at the Meany Center. Collectively we are exploring the deployment of artistic intelligence as an agent of public healing. We are co-concerned with the final frontier of culture and the foundational plane of public health. We are well aware of the American trend of cultural erasure and thus, we aspire towards an American democracy that embodies the ideal of inspiration for all’. I stand with the Meany Center and the UW community in the throes of active inquiry and compassionate place making. We are a creative ecosystem of artists, students, faculty, health professionals, and invested community members all co-creating healthy spaces of stakeholdership in the public imagination. 

— MBJ, April 2023

More About Marc Bamuthi Joseph

Marc Bamuthi Joseph is a 2017 TED Global Fellow, an inaugural recipient of the Guggenheim Social Practice initiative, and an honoree of the United States Artists Rockefeller Fellowship. He is also the winner of the 2011 Herb Alpert Award in Theatre and an inaugural recipient of the Doris Duke Performing Artist Award. In the spring of 2022, he was elected into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

In pursuit of affirmations of Black life in the public realm, Bamuthi co-founded the Life is Living Festival for Youth Speaks, and created the installation “Black Joy in the Hour of Chaos” for Creative Time. Joseph’s opera libretto, “We Shall Not Be Moved,” was named one of 2017’s “Best Classical Music Performances” by The New York Times. His newest opera, “Watch Night,” will premiere in New York’s Perelman Center under the direction of Bill T. Jones in the fall of 2023. His piece “The Just and the Blind” investigates fatherhood in the age of mass incarceration, and premiered at a sold out performance at Carnegie Hall in March 2019. Bamuthi is currently at work on commissions for Yale University, the Albany Symphony Orchestra, Lyric Opera, The Minnesota Orchestra, The New Jersey Symphony Orchestra and the Washington National Opera, as well as a new collaboration with NYC Ballet Artistic Director Wendy Whelan set to premiere at Lincoln Center.

An emergent on-screen talent, he is among the featured performers in HBO’s screen adaptation of Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehesi Coates. Formerly the Chief of Program and Pedagogy at YBCA in San Francisco, Bamuthi currently serves as the Vice President and Artistic Director of Social Impact at The Kennedy Center. A proud alumnus of Morehouse College, Bamuthi received an Honorary Doctorate of Fine Arts from the California College of Arts in the spring of 2022.