It’s difficult to think of Black arts leadership and not have Marc Bamuthi Joseph be a central part of the conversation. For years, Bamuthi, who is just barely into his 5th decade, has accomplished more than one would imagine possible for a single person.
At a young age, Bamuthi, a native New Yorker would traverse from his home in Queens, NY through the vast artistic vestiges of Manhattan. He describes this as becoming aware of the difference between availability to opportunity and access to opportunity, and it apparently fueled his passion for creating a world where access and opportunity are synonymous. He is a trailblazer, an artist, an intellectual, and the epitome of what it looks like to be an artist, activist, and leader.
Prior to his keynote speech at the ArtsFund gathering in Seattle, in September 2023, Bamuthi (as I have come to affectionately call him), spent time with me and Marcie Sillman on our podcast DoubleXposure (available wherever you get your podcasts, btw), and shared more about his work. He summarized what he feels artists bring to the world by saying, "If you're a lawyer, your job is to prosecute or defend. If you're an artist, you're in the hope business."
To try and summarize all of who Bamuthi is and embodies is a feat we cannot take on in this short space. But to know who he is and what he offers in the way of hope and inspiration is a must-do for anyone interested in the possibility that artists strive to illuminate.
If you do not know about Marc Bamuthi Joseph, please take a few moments to check him out! If you are in the Seattle area and want to experience the art of Marc Bamuthi Joseph, run do not walk, and secure your tickets for the world premiere of his work, Carnival of the Animals, making its world premiere at Meany Center, April 6, 2024.