Artists on Audiences

Conversations between Erik Ehn and Arnold Kemp, Paul Flores and Vicky Funari, Catherine Cook and Sandy Wilson.

Frances Phillips


In February 2002, the Walter and Elise Haas Fund convened 150 representatives of San Francisco Bay Area arts and cultural organizations, philanthropic organizations, and government to discuss audience development in the context of a changing economy. The first day of the program was made up of panels and speakers. The second day was dedicated to an open space meeting – inspired by a previous collaboration with the Wallace Reader's Digest Funds in November 2000.

A committee of local arts leaders advised us in the design of this event and one of their strong recommendationswas that we include the voice of artists in our panels on reaching audiences. In our artists' panel, we made a point of featuring artists working in different disciplines, and artists who didn't know each other. We included artists who create original work and those who interpret the work of others.

Our format was improvisational – borrowed from the GIA pre-conference on supporting individual artists in Chicago. We organized six artists in three pairs and assigned them to interview one another about their relationships to audience. The program was timed, for which reason some of the conversations end abruptly. The artist pairs were:

  • Playwright Erik Ehn and visual artist and poet Arnold Kemp
  • Novelist and spoken-word artist Paul Flores and independent filmmaker Vicky Funari
  • Opera singer Catherine Cook and musician Sandy Wilson of the Alexander String Quartet

Following are excerpts from their conversations.

Erik Ehn and Arnold Kemp

Kemp: The minute I started to think about this conversation, I started to think about where audiences enter artists' lives, especially in their creative process. What is the distance we want to keep from some audiences and then, when do we let them in?

And strangely enough, very fortuitously actually, someone emailed me a quote from Morton Feldman, the composer, this morning. It exactly sets up a thought and a question I want to run by Erik. The quote is:

When you begin to work – until that unlucky day when you are no longer involved, with just a handful of friends, admirers, complainers – there is no separation between what you do and who you are. I don't mean that what you are doing is necessarily real, or right. Rather, you work. In some cases the work leads to a concept of music or art that draws attention, and you find yourself in the world. Maybe not for the right reasons, but you find yourself in the world.

Yet there was that other "world," of conversation, of anonymity, of seeing paintings in the intimacy of a studio instead of a museum, of playing a new piece on the piano in your home instead of in a concert hall...

So I wanted to ask Erik, is there any resonance for you in this thought, and just when do you let the audience into your creative process when you're writing or performing?

For me, I've identified my first audience as my friends and my family. Those are the people I've made work for. My first exhibition in San Francisco – first major exhibition – was at a small gallery run by another artist who had heard about me and asked to come see my work and then offered me the show. The gallery was called ESP. It was on Valencia Street between 15th and 16th. It's not there anymore. It was just around for about two years.

But when some people heard I was going to show there, they were saying, "Oh, you're not shooting high enough. Why aren't you trying to show at one of the major galleries downtown?" They didn't realize I purposely chose to show at ESP because I knew it as a place where my friends went. I didn't have friends who were talking about shows downtown. Those friends were the people I first wanted to communicate with.

And I guess, because I have another life [as a curator for Yerba Buena Center for the Arts] that's part of a Downtown life, downtown people came to Valencia Street and went to ESP for the first time. It was a great way to create a bridge between my audiences. I ended up having a great exhibition there, away from downtown, and also boosted the reputation of my friend's gallery.

So I thought maybe Erik could talk a little bit about that critical audience of friends.

Ehn: I think it's a conflict that's in a lot of artists, this desire to get lost and to hide and to work acts of subterfuge and to create intimate and authentic relationships with private audiences, and the desire to be as big as Bono at the Super Bowl.

But the truth is – and this is something that I've read in rock criticism, too – that you feel a little heartbroken that Bono is up there on the Super Bowl screen. They were better when you were the only one who had the album Boy, you know? When it was you and five other people who could put up with their haircuts.

I wonder if, in addition to every strain, there should be a counter strain, if the logic is going to work. If we talk about audience development, we should be aware that it's not necessarily getting audiences bigger; it's just getting audiences more intense, which may mean, how do we find smaller audiences?

Something occurred to me … if I could do this. So I was watching the luckiest team in football break my heart yesterday over at the in-laws' house. And our niece was in the room, so there was Super Bowl huzza. And my niece, two years old, would do this periodically. Ehn assumes a crouching position with one leg extended diagonally above his torso. [laughter]. And she would stay like that until we applauded.

So what she was teaching us – Aristotle learned about art from watching kids – she was teaching a principle of art. She was making art. She was very clearly making art. These are the things that I took from it that I liked.

I was magnetized by it. I mean, if you liked what I did, you should really see her! [laughter] I liked it because it was weird. And I would advocate, in terms of art, that we not lose our childlike weirdness.

But then the particularity of the weirdness – like, what makes it weird? It works at the edge of balance. She's okay at walking, but this is a very complicated gesture for her, and the fact that she lifts one leg, she challenges her own body. She works at the edge of balance. As we stabilize our organizations, are we continuing to work at the edge of balance? Or are organizations and their security at odds with our need to be off balance personally and to put our audiences off balance?

I like this shape because it applies the formal to the human without losing the human. She can't hide the fact that she's my niece and she's two years old, but she's created a formal shape, and that's something that seems to be elemental to art. Are we overemphasizing one or the other? Is our art becoming human to the point of being sentimental? Is it becoming formal to the point of being arcane?

And then – this is sort of in escalating importance – one of the most important things she does with this exercise is she changes the space. What was a living room is now a theater. And this seems to be absolutely critical, absolutely critical to the renewed health of the arts, or theater in particular. Somehow we've grown accustomed to the idea that a theater is where theater happens. And I think audiences want to be at the dawn of the next thing. It seems that great movements in art come out of some sense of origin. And, again, has our security betrayed us? If we operate a traditional space, how can we revivify that space? How can we wake that space up? Can we sell cabbages on the main stage or anything to convince people that our space is a part of real life? How can we make our space porous to real life? And then how can we get our work out into the world, to wake our own sense of reality back up?

And lastly, she does this without any earned income. She expects applause, but there's no earned income. And I think the great theaters of all time – again, to speak from that point of view – have not relied on audiences for earned income. I think we should be paying audiences, if anything; that we need to remind ourselves that our first audience is also our first collaborator.

So, that's the story of Makiah's dance.

Kemp: I started thinking about audiences and what we can learn, maybe, from the hip-hop generation and their idea of posses. Posses are basically collaborators – your managers, your dancers, your hairdressers, etc. …the people who help you write stuff and create your image as an artist.

I have this list in my Rolodex of people I call cultural role models. They're like…not heroes (I can't say "heroes") but cultural role models – people that I watch and I've learned things from. Like Rhodessa Jones. She once said – and I will never forget – "I'm an artist who creates in the living room, and if it doesn't happen there, it's never going to make it to the stage." Maybe I heard that ten years ago, and, I know I'm repeating myself here, but I will never forget it. That has really affected what I do. So maybe I could consider Rhodessa to be part of my posse, or I'm part of her posse.

Although there are these separate communities – and I may be thought of as working in one particular community of artists – we're all supporting each other. Once in awhile we get to connect and learn from each other. And I have appreciated that.

Ehn: Which brings a thought to mind. In addition to developing audiences, you need maybe to develop artists. And a key to developing artists is making them audience members to each other.
So a great source of capital is art. I mean, the way to generate art capital is to bring artists together. So any excuse you can make to bring artists together around a big hot bowl of soup will render dividends, I believe, as much as any kind of pamphleting, or outreach.

Paul Flores and Vicky Funari

Flores: Let's start with outreach. We were talking about the relationship, the responsibility, that the artist has in making sure that the product – in your case a film – reaches multiple audiences. And you were telling me it was really difficult for you, the outreach part, and you were spending more time working on that. Can you go into that a little bit, about outreach, how you get your films out?

Funari: The easiest thing for me to do is talk about a succession of projects because of what I've learned along the way. My first film, Paulina, took a really, really long time to make. Officially ten years, but actually thirteen from the inception of the idea.

That film won a lot of awards and aired on the Sundance channel, and in a lot of ways that you measure success, it had success. But for me it fell short, because it didn't reach certain audiences. And the reason it didn't reach those audiences is because when we finished the film I was many thousands of dollars in debt. I was exhausted. And I was completely and totally broke.

I say this not to complain, but because it is a good illustration of what happens to a lot of documentary filmmakers. Three months after we finished the film, I found myself in a foreign country at a film festival with an overdrawn bank account and a Tupperware container full of carrots that was what I had to eat that week.

That's a really common story, and that's why a lot of films get made and then don't go anywhere, because the filmmaker says, "Well, I gotta eat, I gotta pay the rent." And so you go and get a job.
In my case I was really lucky because the film got out there anyway. But I also made a determination that if I ever did make another film, I was going to organize the whole thing really differently, so that I wouldn't find myself at that stage ever again.

The job that I went out and got turned into a co-directing job. I was hired to edit a film about strippers and ended up co-directing. It's about the first strippers' union in the country and it's called Live Nude Girls Unite! I didn't really participate that much in the outreach part of it because I was the person in the editing room and doing the shooting.

But I'll tell you a story of one of my favorite outreach moments in my life. I was doing a residency in Pittsburgh at Pittsburgh Filmmakers last summer, and they showed the strippers' union film. What we did as outreach was, we took a bunch of the flyers, we wrapped them up in dollar bills, and we spent an evening hanging out at strip clubs, talking to the strippers, and folding up the flyers inside dollar bills and sticking them in their garter belts. And they came to the screening. For me that's outreach!

My co-director, who's also the producer of that film, spent tons and tons of time and energy on that kind of outreach. It's really necessary when you make a social issue documentary. You have to, as a filmmaker, face that it's your responsibility to get that film to its target audiences. Other people will take care of getting it out to other kinds of audiences. But you have to take care of the community outreach or it doesn't happen.

So on the current project, which is about factory workers, what we did from the outset is to work with a group in Tijuana in the making of the film, an organization that provides support services to factory workers. We're also working with Global Exchange in San Francisco and building outreach in from the very beginning. We're already hiring an outreach coordinator in Tijuana and an outreach coordinator here. It's completely folded in: there's no difference on this film between the making of it and the outreach. The goal is to keep it going that way. And the key to that is funding.

Flores: I just want to point out the difference in language here, between "outreach" and "marketing," particularly in the nonprofit world. We are more familiar with the word "outreach" because it's grass-roots oriented. Marketing is the commercial aspect of promotion. When you create a production and then "outreach it," to me it means you are taking care with it, that you are involving the immediate audience, the people you most want to reach with it.

Funari: You perform, and you write, and you're an arts administrator at La Peña Cultural Center, among a whole bunch of other things. How do you think about audience as an artist when you're making a work, versus how you think about it as an arts administrator, as someone working in a community setting?

Flores: There are many benefits in doing administrative work, but you often find yourself helping to create, produce, and promote other people's events, and then your own art suffers. So what you begin to do is try to bring your art into the events that you produce.

For example, we have a project with a woman spoken-word artist I met at a conference. I thought, "Wow, you know, this woman's work is incredible! I really want to work with her. Let's bring her to La Peña." So it became an effort to create an opportunity, to search for a grant that could bring her to do a residency, so that I and other young spoken word artists of Latino descent could also work with her.

I don't know why I just told that story, but it reminded me of how difficult it is to do both, to do arts coordinating and to make art. The reason that I do some of that coordinating is because it gives me an opportunity. I get to put my hands in everything; I think I am most effective then at reaching more people. You know what I mean? If I have my hands involved in as many things as possible, then I'm connecting as many people to one another as possible.

Funari: I have a follow-up question about writing. Because writing, I think (and I think most people think), is really solitary. The equivalent for me in filmmaking is editing. When I'm in the editing room, that's when nobody gets to bother me and I'm just thinking about the piece. And yet, audience is part of that thinking. So, I'm curious about when you're writing, who you're writing for, and whether there's any relationship between who you think you're writing for and who eventually is going to end up reading it. And if you care whether there's a difference between who you think you're addressing and who actually gets addressed.

Flores: This is an artist question/problem. I just wrote this novel, Along the Border Lies. Along-the-border-lies…I mean, the title tells you where it's about, really. But the border's long, and it's specific to our time: It's 2000, and which border is pertinent? Is it the border between France and Spain? Or is it between Mexico and the United States? You know what I mean? When I was writing that book, I needed to envision somebody I knew, somebody from my area who I could imagine telling the story to, so that they would say, "Oh, yeah, I know that part. I know that place. I've been there before." I thought of people who live on the border between San Diego and Tijuana. I wanted to be able to tell this story and for them to feel familiar with it. That was how I thought about an audience for it.

And yet I'm also working with my editor, who doesn't know the area that I'm writing about. And, you know, a reader can translate that area into any number of places.

In the spoken-word scene – I don't know if people are familiar with this – you rarely see a Latino performer. And why is that? Because Latinos often speak in Spanish and English. And at a spoken-word performance, you have a mainly English-speaking audience, so when you begin to engage in Spanish, you automatically alienate the audience. That becomes a self-conscious thing for Latino artists. They don't pursue mainstream or other than Latino community performances because of being very conscious of having to speak English in order to be understood.

That's always going to be an issue for any immigrant population that begins to create art. You think hard about who your audience is, because you have your new community in the new country and then you have your immigrant community also. You may have to choose between them. If you're an arts presenter who works with multicultural and multiracial audiences that's going to challenge you.

The question goes back to you now. How does your content shape what you create? How do you envision an audience? And you're making documentary films: documentary films don't often get played in the mainstream media. You were talking about creating a 56-minute documentary for PBS. So what are the limits placed on documentary filmmaking, on the content that you're working with, and by the audience that you're imagining?

Funari: Sometimes it feels like it's all about limits, because with a documentary these days, there are certain markets that you can make a documentary for, and you'd better be aiming for one of those markets, and better know exactly what they want, or you can't get the funding. It places serious constraints on you, but it also helps you shape the work.

For example, the piece that we're making now we are hoping will eventually be a PBS piece, although it isn't right now. We hope to get PBS funding or to sell the finished documentary to PBS. This means that from the day we started writing grants we knew that it was going to be 56 minutes and 40 seconds long because that is the requirement for a PBS "hour."

I'm sure every discipline has constraints, but with filmmaking these constraints are very specific.

We refused to work within these constraints for Paulina: It was 88 minutes long, and it never got a PBS broadcast. It was also in Spanish, which didn't help. It showed on the Sundance channel, and that was great, but had we had the money to make a shorter version, it might have had a different broadcast life.

But again, that's talking about a different kind of audience. As a producer I have to think about audience in a bigger picture. But as an artist I'm thinking about very, very specific people who I'm talking to while I'm making the work.

When I made PaulinaPaulina is the story of a Mexican woman who was sold by her parents when she was a child and grew up to be a maid in Mexico City, and she's a very amazing person. And so when I was making that film, coming up with images, shooting them, and editing them, I was always talking to Paulina. I want to know how she's going to feel and what she's going to think. And am I really representing her as I'm making each of these images and each of these concepts?

And by the way, she's a co-creator of that film. For me it's also really important that if you're going to represent somebody, that they be part of that representation.

The same thing with Live Nude Girls Unite! That really came out of the strippers' community, and a bunch of strippers worked on the film. The people who were main characters all had a voice in how they were represented.

It's a question of dealing with two mindsets: your mindset as an artist; and your mindset as the business person who has to take care of the real world issues so that you can actually get the stuff done. And it works to me that you talk to someone on an intimate level while you're making the work, so that you can talk to a larger audience when the work is done.

Catherine Cook and Sandy Wilson

Wilson: As a wonderfully successful and very young opera star, you have a fabulous career. I can see here, in a given season, Tulsa, here, Portland, Honolulu, Baltimore, San Francisco. You were spending five, six weeks, you tell me, in each of these places.

What intrigues me is how you perceive your audience, first of all. At what point can you jump off and actually experience an interface with the people who come to observe and participate in performances?

Cook: We do a lot of that through outreach. If I go to a city to sing, there are often events like donor dinners, things like that, where there'll be one artist to a table and we converse with the people at the table. Often times we'll perform.

Since I've, I guess, become a professional, I haven't done as much outreach. When I was an Adler Fellow with San Francisco Opera, I did tons of it. Four to five times a week we'd go downtown and do what we'd call "Brown Bag Opera." It was at the lunch hour, and people'd just be outside eating their lunch, and we would come. We would have an electronic keyboard, so the accompanist would play and we would sing arias – everything from Mozart to Bernstein. That was a great way to reach out to the community.

And I have many stories where funny things happened. Like the time that the homeless guy in the clown suit walked up to me and blew smoke in my face as I was breathing in. And it wasn't cigarette smoke. [laughter] It was a good high note!

I have tons of stories like that. What it taught me was a sense of being really comfortable with myself in any kind of performance situation as an artist. If some director asks me to stand on my head and do whatever while I'm singing, I'm like, "alright, cool, just another Brown Bag!"

So it taught me a lot as an artist, and reached out to the community, and, I hope, brought some more people into the opera.

But now that I'm off singing in different places, those experiences are a lot less frequent, because usually those performances are done by the apprentices, the young people who come in with the opera company. So I don't get that close experience with the audience, which was a lot of fun.

Wilson: So now when you leave home, which is San Francisco, and you'll spend, what, four, five weeks at a time? So how do you experience community when you're traveling like that? I mean obviously you have a community among your colleagues within the opera organization, the presenting organization. Do you have an opportunity to connect, though, with the homeless guy in the clown suit in Portland, for example, or Tulsa?

Cook: It's difficult when you go into a city and you don't know anybody, but it also forces you to go out and meet people. Each city has an energy of its own that's evident in the people you work with at the opera company. One of the fascinating things about this business and the traveling is going to each part of the United States and seeing what makes people tick.

Last year I did a Mozart Requiem with the Tulsa Symphony. The woman who was conducting the concert, Carol Crawford, runs the opera company there, and she has brought it up to a really high level through a lot of community outreach. For this particular symphony concert, hardly any tickets had been sold. So she had this great idea. There's a big children's chorus in town, and she thought to incorporate a number in the concert with the children's chorus. She thought, "Well surely by the parents alone who come, there'll be at least some people in the audience." And it turned out very well.

So in addition to the Mozart Requiem we did this children's piece with the orchestra, and it was just such a thrill to see the kids feel their part in this concert. And also it embraced the community in a way that we hope will bring more people to the symphony now. Things like that really are an interesting part of the work.

Wilson: I'm curious whether you feel as an opera singer that the presenting organization, the opera company, capitalizes on the resources it has among its many performers in terms of making the outreach or the audience development work. Would you feel comfortable being more accessible than you currently are?

Cook: Yes, definitely. As long as it didn't interfere with the rehearsals and the performances. And, definitely, they could incorporate us more into the community. I've sung national anthems for Giants baseball games and things like that. I think, unfortunately, a lot of performers are reluctant to do that because they think it's going to get in the way of the actual piece.

The problem in opera is that there's just so many components to it. It's not just the performers and the director. Schedules get made three, four years in advance. If you mess one iota with that – talking about your constraints with documentary filmmaking – it's like, oh, honey, it's really bad in opera, because so many pieces to the puzzle must come together. So that's why there's not more of that community interaction. I think the artists are willing to give, but it's difficult with the complexity of the form.

I wanted to ask you about your outreach activities. I know that you do a lot of activities within the community with your quartet. How does that affect your audience?

Wilson: Well, when my colleagues in the Alexander String Quartet and I moved to San Francisco from New York eleven or twelve years ago, we came to this community through a very interesting kind of triumvirate organization that involved the University and the Morrison Foundation and San Francisco Performances. And we came with a mandate, which was to really try to accomplish some audience development, some community activities, to try to expand and promote chamber music – the string quartet, particularly. And it has been through an extraordinary cooperation with the presenting organization here that it's been possible to accomplish most of that.

You have to realize that moving from New York for a string quartet is quite a big deal, because you're moving four households. And coming to this community, practically speaking, and leaving New York City, was a bit traumatic; because of course everybody said, "Oh, you know, if you can make it in New York you can make it anywhere." The notion at the time was that, at least for chamber music, everything was within a five-hour driving radius of New York City, everywhere you'd ever want to play in your career from now on for the next forty years. You know, why leave? Why walk away? The idea was that if you moved to San Francisco you'd have to fly everywhere, and you'd be flying most of the time back to New York City.

Well, fortunately, we proved them all wrong. But one of the ways that we did that was to really work at developing new audiences. And I think certainly we've done that by putting a great emphasis on working within the San Francisco Unified School District – and not only within traditional schools. For a long time, organizations like Young Audiences have been out there working – with K through 6, typically, and even a little bit beyond that. But we got really involved in working with high school kids, particularly with inner-city high school kids, and often high school kids who ten years ago had been disenfranchised, in many cases not having had very much music, if any at all, in their curriculum.

So we had a fantastic audience – hostile, admittedly. You know, they believed like everybody else that you had to be either dead or depressed to listen to chamber music, especially string quartets.

We had to go in there very often trying to be prepared to face that it was not "cool." They didn't want to be there. They resented our being there. And we had to also find a way to be comfortable talking to kids for most of whom English was their second language.

Why not, you know? The great thing about a string quartet is that all you need are four chairs. We travel with our own instruments, and we have our own music stands. So, progressively, and with tremendous… I mean I cannot overestimate, overstate, the importance of having a dedicated organization with an extraordinary commitment to education and outreach, helping us to forge and chip away at and develop teacher prep materials and follow-up stuff. This kind of stuff has made our job not only possible, but a pleasure. It's been tremendously rewarding.

And, of course, we then developed beyond that. We got to work with adult audiences doing continuing education. We developed a new series, again with San Francisco Performances, using a non-conventional space – a Saturday morning series – and worked with a wonderful man whom many people here I think know, Robert Greenberg. He is a wonderful educator – also a raconteur, a comedian – who has a wonderful manner introducing the work. And he has progressively now, over nine seasons, worked with us chipping away at the repertoire: the Beethoven cycle, the Bartok cycle, all of these things which are terrifying.

But it's been very important, I think. When you're dealing with a medium like chamber music and a string quartet, you're dealing with something that comes with a grand apologia before you even start. People think, "Oh, you know, it's very, very intimidating; it's really intelligent music; it's foreboding; and it's very intimate." And perhaps they'd rather be in a stadium with 29,000 other people, picking it up on the mega-screen.

As a Brit coming to this country as an adult, I found myself greatly disadvantaged because I didn't know how to follow baseball. I didn't really know how to follow American football. And if I told you the ins and outs of cricket, you'd probably… it's a yawn, you'd be asleep in no time at all.

But you learn very quickly when you watch sportscasting, just how very quickly we can put people down. We can hold them at arm's length, and we can give them a real turn-off by using language that is specific to the form. If you say, "the Orioles," for example. Oh, yeah, is that football or baseball? I know it's Baltimore now, but it's only twenty-three years or so that I've lived here.

But, we do the same thing in chamber music. We talk about Opus 76 No. 3. There are so many ways we can shoot ourselves in the foot. By using the "insider" language of our field, we hold otherwise willing audiences at arm's length. They don't get it if we're talking code. We should be speaking plainly and including them.

At the same time we should be getting at kids. We should be getting at kids in nursery schools and first grade and third grade. We should be getting at them with opera.

Cook: Because they get it. They really get it! This is just a small example, but I sang at my son's preschool last week. And they all, you know, first they're like this. [She makes a dour face.] But later one of the parents came up to me, and she said, "Oh, my daughter came home the other day and she said that you sang. And she wanted to cry, but it wasn't sad tears, it was happy… It was happy tears."

And I thought, whoa! They get it.

Wilson: We sell it short so often.

Biographical Notes
American mezzo-soprano Catherine Cook has excelled in a wide range of roles with leading companies throughout the United States. Highlights of her 2001-2002 season include performances of Giovanna in Rigoletto with San Francisco Opera, Fox Goldenstripe in The Cunning Little Vixen with Tulsa Opera, and the Old Lady in Candide with Portland Opera. Among other roles in 2000-2001, Ms. Cook sang Jade Boucher in the world premiere of Jake Heggie's Dead Man Walking with San Francisco Opera. She is a former Merola Program and Adler Fellow participant with the San Francisco Opera, gave a Schwabacher Debut Recital in 1994, and won the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions and the Merola Chicago Regional Auditions' Yoder Award in 1990.

Playwright Erik Ehn is the author of numerous works, including Beginner, The Saint Plays, Indigo Heart, Smoke Times Seven, Chokecherry, The Year of My Mother's Birth, Heavenly Shades of Night are Falling, and the operas Vireo and Phrenic Crush. In 1997 he and composer Lisa Bielawa co-founded the Tenderloin Opera Company, which continues to create original works with and for residents of San Francisco's Tenderloin. Mr. Ehn is a recipient of grants from the Creative Work Fund and Wallace Alexander Gerbode Foundation; along with a CalArts Alpert Award, McKnight Fellowship, and Whiting Writers Award. Among other projects, he currently is a playwright in residence at Perishable Theater Company through an NEA and Theater Communications Group award.

Paul S. Flores recently received the Josephine Miles Award from PEN/West for his first novel, Along the Border Lies, published by Creative Arts Books in 2001 as part of the "Zyzzyva First Book" series. Mr. Flores is the program coordinator at La Peña Cultural Center in Berkeley and educational director of Youth Speaks. He also is the former artistic coordinator of the HipHop Hybrid Project at Intersection for the Arts. A founding member of Los Delicados, he has performed music, theater, and spoken word all over the West Coast, and in Texas, Chicago, and New York City. Los Delicados recently released its first CD, "Word Descarga" on Calaca Press. Born in Gary, Indiana, Mr. Flores grew up in Chula Vista, California, three miles from the Mexican border.

Independent filmmaker Vicky Funari was co-producer, co-author, and director of Paulina, a bilingual documentary about a Mexican maid and the childhood tragedy that shaped her life. Having taken Funari and her collaborators – including co-producer and co-author Jennifer Maytorena Taylor – ten years to complete, Paulina won the Grand Jury Prize at the 1998 San Francisco International Film Festival. Ms. Funari grew up in Mexico until age 11, when she moved to the United States. She attended film school at New York University and interned with Lizzie Borden on the film Working Girls. Currently Ms. Funari is working with visual artist Sergio de la Torre, the Tijuana Women's organization Grupo Factor X, and human rights group Global Exchange on Maquilopa!, a documentary about workers in Tijuana's maquiladores, assembly factories.

Arnold J. Kemp insists on an artistic practice that includes writing, performance, and the production of visual art, such as sculpture and photography. His writing has appeared in Calaloo, Agni Review, River Styx and other journals, and his poem, "100 Times," is included in Step into a World, a Global Anthology of New Black Literature. Mr. Kemp has had solo exhibitions of his artwork at the San Francisco African and African American Historical Society, Gallery ESP, and The Luggage Store Gallery, and in 2001 exhibited work at the Studio Museum in Harlem and at Hunter College in New York City. He is an associate curator at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco.

Sandy Wilson, a native of Northumberland, England, was principal cellist at the age of 21 in the Allgemeine Musikgesellschaft Orchestra in Lucerne, Switzerland, at which time he also performed extensively in duo recital with Swiss pianist Hedy Salquin. Since co-founding the Alexander String Quartet in 1981, he has lived in the United States, devoting most of his energies to the quartet. In 1985, the quartet attracted international attention as the first American quartet to win the London International String Quartet Competition. With his quartet colleagues, Mr. Wilson directs the Morrison Center for the Advanced Study of Chamber Music and performs throughout North America and Europe.