In fall 2009 The Opportunity Agenda launched an Immigration Arts and Culture Initiative with the goal of fostering arts, culture, and media activities that promote the inclusion, integration, and human rights of immigrants in the United States. The near-term focus of the initiative is to inform, engage, and inspire the creative community and advocates of immigrant inclusion on how they might effectively collaborate with one another to engage key audiences on the issue of national immigration reform. The longer-term goal is to highlight and develop best practices and effective models for the creative community and immigrant advocacy organizations to build public support for immigrant integration and human rights and a funding base for creative collaboration across immigrant integration and human rights issues.
As part of this initiative:
- A Working Group composed of artists, arts organizations, advocates, and other activists concerned with immigration-related issues was convened in New York City and Los Angeles in September and October 2009 and February, April, and May 2010. A future meeting is planned for fall 2010.
- A public forum in New York City—“Immigration: Arts, Culture & Media 2010”—was held on April 14, 2010 at the French Institute, featuring Mira Nair, director of The Namesake and Monsoon Wedding; Chung-Wha Hong, executive director of the New York Immigration Coalition; David Henry Hwang, playwright of M. Butterfly and Yellow Face; Alan Jenkins, executive director of The Opportunity Agenda; Martín Perna, founder of the musical groups Antibalas and Ocote Soul Sounds; Favianna Rodriguez, printmaker and new media artist; Frank Sharry, executive director of America’s Voice; and the art of Kip Fulbeck. The forum was produced by Liz Manne and moderated by Maria Hinojosa, Emmy Award– winning PBS anchor and the host of NPR’s Latino USA.
- A public forum in Los Angeles—“Immigrants in America: A Hollywood Perspective”—co-sponsored by the Paley Center for Media, was held on May 3, 2010 and featured conversations with Bruce Evans, senior vice president of Drama Programming, NBC; Jesse Garcia, actor, Quinceañera; Leon Ichasa, screenwriter and director; Alan Jenkins, executive director, The Opportunity Agenda; Nick Schenk, writer, Gran Torino; Angelica Salas, executive director, Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles; Bee Vang, actor, Gran Torino; and Ligiah Villalobos, screenwriter, Under the Same Moon. The forum was produced by Sarah Ingersoll and Anike Tourse and moderated by professor and film critic Emanuel Levy.
The final element of this phase of the work is a research study to identify examples of arts, culture, and media projects that effectively move hearts and minds; break down prejudice; inspire community engagement; and, in the long term, encourage public support for the fair treatment and inclusion of immigrants in American society. A key outcome of the study is the identification of a pipeline of projects that could be brought to scale and/or considered for possible collaboration and support. This study, which was designed around a series of interviews and a survey to elevate best practices and compelling ideas, also includes a series of recommendations.