(image courtesy the Vera List Center for Arts and Culture; design by Gabriela López Dena)

(image courtesy the Vera List Center for Arts and Culture; design by Gabriela López Dena)

The need for sanctuary spaces has only become more urgent since the ascent of Donald Trump, whose policies have relentlessly targeted immigrants and emboldened Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents. Though some cultural spaces have stepped up to the challenge, many more have not. Indeed, former Queens Museum President and Executive Director Laura Raicovich was rebuffed by the institution’s board of trustees when she raised this very issue.

On Thursday night, Raicovich will join her Queens Museum predecessor, New York City Department of Cultural Affairs Commissioner Tom Finkelpearl, and Jeanne van Heeswijk, an artist and instigator of Philadelphia Assembled, for a conversation about the history and present realities of fostering safe spaces for immigrants facing precarious legal situations. In addition to taking stock of the Sanctuary Movement’s accomplishments during the first year of the Trump presidency, they’ll aim to outline what can be done in the coming months and years.

The conversation is the keynote event of a two-day program — co-organized by the Vera List Center for Arts and Politics, the New School Sanctuary Working Group, and the Zolberg Institute Working Group on Expanding Sanctuary — that continues on Friday with a workshop. The focus will be on developing stewardship curricula for sanctuary spaces, with van Heeswijk and community educator Michael O’Bryan discussing and suggesting ways that artistic practices can help support and empower immigrant groups.

When: Thursday, February 15 at 7–8:30 pm and Friday, February 16 at 12:30–4:30 pm (free, RSVP recommended)
Where: The New School Auditorium (66 West 12th Street, Greenwich Village, Manhattan) and the New School José Clemente Orozco Room (66 West 12th Street, 7th floor, Greenwich Village, Manhattan), respectively

More info at the Vera List Center for Arts and Politics.

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Benjamin Sutton

Benjamin Sutton is an art critic, journalist, and curator who lives in Park Slope, Brooklyn. His articles on public art, artist documentaries, the tedium of art fairs, James Franco's obsession with Cindy...