Virtual LunART Festival celebrates Black women artists

Music, poetry and dance performances to be livestreamed Oct. 10 and 17.
Kimi Evelyn dancing in a park
Photo courtesy of LunART Festival
Kimi Evelyn, a local dancer and choreographer, filming her performance for the 2020 online event.

Following a racially tumultuous year, the LunART Festival is directing attention to Black artists in its upcoming “Human Family” showcase. LunART is a performing arts organization that highlights the work of women, and the 2020 version of the annual event will livestream on Oct. 10 and 17.

“LunART has always advocated for radical inclusivity and diversity in our efforts working toward gender equality in the arts,” says LunART founder and organizer Iva Urgcic. “However, in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement we felt it was important to acknowledge that Black women have been doubly marginalized in many artistic spaces.”

Inequities Black women face include wage and health care disparities which are often exacerbated by systemic misogyny and racism. LunART provides participants with an opportunity to address such problems through their artwork.

“Arts have the power to make transformations, [to] challenge the status quo and push for change,” says Urgcic. “Arts have always served as a powerful tool for social commentary and critique … [and] it is not new to say that cultural equity is critical to the long-term viability of the arts industry.”

Just as Black women are underrepresented in state and federal government, organizational leadership positions and in the workforce, this demographic of creators is often missing from overwhelmingly white mainstream art circles.

“Radical inclusivity has been part of LunART’s mission from its conception, [and] part of creating a more just and inclusive world means recognizing that even within the space of underrepresentation there remain disparities,” Urgcic says.

So this 2020 show will be a bit different, just as everything this year has been, with its 11 spotlighted artists.

Shasparay Lighteard — who founded the Black Arts Matter Festival here in Madison — will be performing her world-renowned spoken word as one of the highlighted artists. Local and classically-trained vocalist Deja Mason, dancer and choreographer Kimi Evelyn and college student songwriter Danielle Crim also are set to perform.

Learn more about all of the 2020 artists here.

In line with a beloved Maya Angelou poem, Urgcic says all the LunART performers hope to foster a sense of peace and unity and help people recognize that we are more alike than we are different.

While the LunART livestreams will be free to view on the LunART website and Facebook page, there are ways to financially support the participating artists. Copies of a LunART-commissioned print by Amira Caire can be purchased on the event website. Direct donations to LunART are also tax deductible. Check out the LunART website for more information.

Sam Jones is an editorial intern at Madison Magazine.