HRP incorporates the arts as a core pedagogical tool during our community events and public education programs because we believe the human rights movement will accomplish more with active, committed public involvement.  Artists possess the unique capacity to shift public consciousness.  When artists and activists collaborate, finding inventive solutions to complex problems, a future of better lives for all seems possible. Nurturing connections between them encourages participants to collectively imagine new possibilities for using the human rights framework to create a just society. Please scroll down for a sampling of the programs we have done with this in mind:


Open Season is an event that combines art and creative conversation with nationally recognized experts about race and the culture of policing in America.  The inaugural session will be held on December 10, 2014—International Human Rights Day. The Human Rights Project at the Urban Justice Center, in partnership with Dancing While Black, is pleased to offer an opportunity for performance and visual artists to become a part of this immersive experience.

WANTED:  Imaginative, provocative visual and performance art on the topics of community, confinement, race and gender.  We encourage submissions that address these themes in a creative and expansive way.

ELIGIBILITY: Artists of color who are working in dance, performance, photography, multimedia installation, animation, illustration, painting or drawing. Performance work should be performance ready in a small or unconventional space, no longer than five minutes, require minimal setup and technical support.   For visual art submissions, please send up to ten images saved as a pdf portfolio labeled with your lastname_firstname.  We encourage submissions from artists who have personal experience with the criminal justice system, including people who are incarcerated or formerly incarcerated and their family members.

SUBMISSION: Please prepare a PDF portfolio of no more than 10 images and/or a link to a 5 minute performance you would like us to consider. Include

a 150 word description of the work and why it should be included in Open Season;

a resume and 150 word bio;

Performance Artists: A list of technical requirements;

Visual Artists: List of images by number that includes artist name, name of work, medium, dimensions, and date.

Complete submissions should be sent to ( no later than 11:59p.m. on November 12, 2014.

The Human Rights Project is grateful for the support of our event co-sponsors Angela’s Pulse and the NYU Prison Education Program.

HRP regularly co-sponsors “Dancing While Black”evenings of dance and dialogue with the Urban Bush Women and Angela’s Pulse at the Bronx Academy of Arts and Dance. The standing room only events present wonderful opportunities to showcase the fusion of arts and human rights that are part of the new direction of our organization. HRP facilitates pre-performance panel discussions that contextualize the work of the women of color dancers and choreographers in a human rights frame. The events have previously been held in May 2012 and May 2014.

Dancing While Black 2012 was a Roaring Success

BRONX, NY – On Thursday May 17, 2012 the Human Rights Project at the Urban Justice Center, Angela’s Pulse, and the Bronx Academy of Arts & Dance presented Dancing While Black, a panel and performance exploring the intersections of gender, race, and art. The event featured a panel conversation on equity in art, followed by new choreography from the latest generation of dancers to emerge from the internationally-acclaimed Urban Bush Women dance company.

The panel was moderated by Shani Jamila, Director of the Human Rights Project at the Urban Justice Center. Panelists included Christal Brown, INSPIRIT dance company; Shalonda Ingram, Nursha Project; Greg Tate, cultural critic; Milta Vega-Cardona, People's Institute for Survival and Beyond; and Marlies Yearby, choreographer.

This evening presents an opportunity to explore Black artistic production within a human rights frame,” said Shani Jamila, Director of the Human Rights Project at the Urban Justice Center. “Who polices our bodies and aesthetics? How do we articulate our own visions?”

The performance, curated by Paloma McGregor, featured dancers and choreographers who have come out of the renowned Urban Bush Women dance company, including Maria Bauman (MBDance), Marjani Forte (LoveForte) with Nia Love, Paloma McGregor (Angela’s Pulse), and Samantha Speis.

Founded in 1984 by choreographer Jawole Willa Jo Zollar, the Brooklyn-based Urban Bush Women dance company seeks to bring the untold and under-told histories and stories of disenfranchised people to light through dance. From a woman-centered perspective and as members of the African Diaspora community, their mission is to create a more equitable balance of power in the dance world and beyond. As with Dancing While Black, Urban Bush Women facilitates the use of art as a means of addressing issues of social justice and encouraging civic engagement.

Dancing While Black is an initiative that will go beyond the boundaries of this one exquisite evening,” said Paloma McGregor, co-founder of Angela’s Pulse. “It is my attempt to create ongoing platforms for process, dialogue and experimentation. It aims to celebrate our multiplicity of visions, histories and potentials; to honor legacy and support innovation.

Reels for Rights

HRP was a sponsoring organization of the Human Rights Media Arts Forum in coalition with groups including the ACLU, the US Human Rights Fund and National Economic and Social Rights Initiative. Our director moderated a panel of media artists in a discussion of how their work relates to and benefits from a human rights frame. The forum was held November 30-- December 2, 2012 at the Union Theological Seminary in New York City.  To learn more, click here.


HRP disseminates weekly newsletters that cover current events from a human rights perspective, and feature a spotlight on the arts and human rights. This work is disseminated throughout our listserv, posted on social media and shared amongst our nationwide network of alumni from our annual Human Rights Institute. To sign up for our listserv, please click here.