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Jan Cohen-Cruz to be honored by ATHE for leadership in community-based theater
Jan Cohen-Cruz, University Professor and director of Imagining America: Artists and Scholars in Public Life (IA) from 2007-2012, will receive the prestigious Award for Leadership in Community-Based Theatre and Civic Engagement from the Association for Theatre in Higher Education (ATHE). The award honors a leader with a high level of commitment and longevity in the field, whose work demonstrates an innovative approach, high artistic quality, community and field-wide impact and deep civic dialogue.
Cohen-CruzTwenty-three individuals, including scholars, community-based theater artists, and community activists wrote supporting letters for Cohen-Cruz’s nomination. Cohen-Cruz will be recognized at the 2012 ATHE Conference in a ceremony on Aug. 2 in Washington, D.C., at the Hyatt Regency Washington on Capitol Hill.
“Jan Cohen-Cruz’s books, anthologies, monographs and articles are crucial to understanding theater as a local act, a public performance, an inquiry with the oppressed, and as call and response,” says Sonja Kuftinec, Imagining America National Advisory Board member and professor of theater at the University of Minnesota, who, with theater activist Norma Bowles, nominated Cohen-Cruz for the award. “All those who wrote letters of support referred to Jan as a model, a hero, an inspiration and a bridge-builder.”
Cohen-Cruz joined SU in 2007 from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, where she served as a professor in the drama department and in the department of art and public policy. In her five-year tenure as IA director, she established numerous local programs to support the publicly engaged art and scholarship of faculty, students and leaders of community-based organizations. For example, the IA Grants program has funded 28 new courses and projects at SU, and the Engagement Fellows program, in partnership with Associate Provost for Entrepreneurship and Innovation Bruce Kingma, has enabled graduating SU seniors to seek employment in Central New York while incorporating the principle of Scholarship in Action into their professional work.
From 2008-10, Cohen-Cruz’s Art-in-Motion, a project with Open Hand Theater and Syracuse Stage, combined public conversations and performance to bring together diverse people from the four sectors of Syracuse. The project culminated in September 2010 with a large-scale performance with giant puppets and movement-based theatrical scenes in Syracuse’s Armory Square.
Cohen-Cruz is the author, most recently, of “Engaging Performance: Theatre as Call and Response” (Routledge, 2010), which includes a chapter about SU. Sponsored by the Bronx Museum and the U.S. State Department, her current research focuses on cultural diplomacy and involves 15 community-based visual arts projects in countries around the world. After June 2012, she will continue to serve as an SU University Professor and will be the founding editor of an online journal that documents, explores and critiques scholarly and creative projects that integrate arts and culture.