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Anna Deavere Smith is the founder and director of the Institute on the Arts and Civic Dialogue. The mission of the IACD is to support artists whose works address the world’s most pressing problems. The Institute creates a meeting place for artists, scholars, and audiences to exchange ideas and generate new work. The Institute also supports arts education, through the development of curriculum for use in high schools and colleges, and by maintaining an extensive library of archived materials that are available to artists and arts teachers.
Originally launched in 1997 at Harvard University as a series of summer symposiums, the IACD was among early experimental environments interested in the arts and civic engagement. During these summer convenings, the Institute produced artistic works from a variety of disciplines, each of them exploring a social issue. A percentage of the audience was “curated,” to discover whether the presence of an audience with an appetite for discussion of content (rather than form), might influence further development of the work. In 2001, the IACD relocated to New York, and it is currently housed at New York University, where it is active year-round, funded by a generous grant from the Provost’s office.
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