Shifting Cultural Power

Written by Hope Mohr, with contributions from participants in The Bridge Project

Foreword by Michèle Steinwald

Size: 6 x 9

The NCCAkron Series in Dance

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SKU: 978-1-62922-117-5 Category: Tags: ,


Shifting Cultural Poweris a reckoning with white cultural power and a call to action. The book locates the work of curating performance in conversations about social change, with a special focus on advancing racial equity in the live arts. Based on the author’s journey as a dancer, choreographer, and activist, as well as on her ten years of leading The Bridge Project, a performing arts presenting platform in the Bay Area, Shifting Cultural Power invites us to imagine new models of relationship among artists and within arts organizations—models that transform our approach, rather than simply re-cast who holds power. Mohr covers such subjects as transitioning a hierarchical nonprofit to a model of distributed leadership; expanding the canon; having difficult conversations about race; and reckoning with aesthetic bias. “When we reckon with and de-center whiteness, we open imaginative space for decolonized models of artmaking and art community,” Mohr writes. “We create possibilities for shifting cultural power.” Featuring case studies of socially engaged projects in the performing arts; a workbook for embodied research; an archive of The Bridge Project’s ten-year history; and transcripts of landmark performance events.

About the Author

Hope Mohr has woven art and activism for decades as a choreographer, curator, and advocate. She founded Hope Mohr Dance (HMD) to create, present and foster outstanding art at the intersection of the body and the brain. The Bridge Project, HMD’s signature presenting platform, creates and supports equity-driven live art that builds community and centers artists as agents of change. In 2020, Mohr co-stewarded HMD’s transition to an equity-driven model of distributed leadership. As a dancer, Mohr trained at San Francisco Ballet School and the Merce Cunningham and Trisha Brown Studios. She performed in the companies of dance pioneers Lucinda Childs and Trisha Brown. While dancing professionally, Mohr earned a JD from Columbia Law School. As an attorney, she provides counsel and support for artists and culture workers.

Advance Praise for Shifting Cultural Power

Filled with exquisite insights, Shifting Cultural Power demonstrates what we can do to transform curatorial practices toward our shared destinies.  Hope Mohr explores the uneven terrain of dance presenting to take on white privilege and attest to the life-affirming rewards of artivism. Written with a smart, raw, confessional tone, this book includes practical strategies for reshaping the terms of live art presenting.  Essential reading, and affirmation that how we move through the world matters, onstage and off.
–Thomas F. DeFrantz, Director, SLIPPAGE: Performance|Culture|Technology, Founding Director, Collegium for African Diaspora Dance

In an era when many white-founded arts organizations are investigating how to create more equity through antiracism and decolonization, Mohr highlights so many of the complexities that all too often get overlooked. She shares her own experiences at Hope Mohr Dance and The Bridge Project (with remarkable honesty and humility) as well as deeply researched recommendations from experts of color. Offering useful insights and actionable takeaways, she thoughtfully demonstrates how artists can harness their creativity to help reimagine organizational structures in order to redistribute cultural power.

–Jennifer Stahl, editor in chief of Dance Magazine and content director for Dance Media.

In gracefully merging memoir and practicum, Mohr has made an invaluable and ingenious contribution to the deep and stubborn work of power and resource redistribution in the world of art and performance.
Moira Brennan, Executive Director of the MAP Fund, Inc.


[Shifting Cultural Power] offers a starting point for curating in harmony with social change, and examines how dance leaders can use their privilege to, as the title suggests, shift cultural power from where it has historically been monopolized—namely, away from whiteness.
–Courtney Escoyne, Dance Magazine

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dance, performance, curation, live arts, equity, distributed leadership, anti-racism, arts

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