Statement from Pauline Moffat, CEO of IndyFringe
The Black Lives Matter movement gained momentum so quickly. Watching George Floyd die was humbling. Like so many people around the world, it has had a profound effect on me. I feel like an outsider looking in. As a permanent resident, I can’t vote in my adopted country or my home country of Australia. It is deeply upsetting to lose your right to vote.
To see so many obstacles put in the way of Black people who want to vote is infuriating.
It reiterates why everyone must use their vote for lasting change.
Fifteen years ago Hurricane Katrina had already peeled back the shiny veneer of the America I thought I knew. At the time I had no idea that nearly 70% of the New Orleans population was mostly Black and half the population lived in poverty. Living in American is so very different from visiting America.
Fifteen days ago we saw a man’s life taken from him in broad daylight by those charged with protecting citizens. It makes it painfully clear why Black people say they are just exhausted. They have fought this fight for generations.
Theatre and performance art can help give an additional strong voice to the movement. IndyFringe is committed to fulfilling its responsibility.
It all begins with Black youth.
Students gave me my first opportunity to be involved in raising awareness of the inequalities and indifferences of Katrina. Butler University seniors Erin Aquino and Jessica Strauss wanted Indianapolis to understand what they saw on their inspiring mission trip to New Orleans: devastation, heroism, and a need for continued national attention. Their high-energy performance piece, Dear Katrina, I Saw You On TV, sparked a charged discussion between the audience and the directors about the causes and consequences of the hurricane’s aftermath. IndyFringe was the perfect setting, a former derelict African American church which we were repurposing as a theatre.
Another pivotal moment was listening to a student, Mat Davis, perform a poem at IndyFringe about being “just a number in the IPS school system.” Mat was removed from a high school stage for reciting that very same poem. I asked a friend to take me to a high school so I could see firsthand the environment for students. My first reaction “Why are police at the door?” Today, Mat is a leading activist in the Black Lives Matter movement.
It is our hope that OnyxFest in partnership with IUPUI/ARTI will equally amplify the voices of Black playwrights and artists. Due to Covid-19, OnyxFest 2020 is delayed, not postponed or canceled. We are excited about six plays that will articulate Black culture and issues. These productions will affirm on stage the fact that Black Lives Matter!
Thank you for supporting IndyFringe and its diverse artists and audiences,