Brought together by Laurie Anderson, Laura Michalchyshyn, and Tanya Selvaratnam, we believe in the need both to heighten our sense of our shared humanity, to work for equality and justice, and to communicate visions of what our world could be. We believe in engaging audiences to secure a more democratic future. The arts must serve as a catalyst to achieve these goals.
CULTURAL STRATEGY: OUR THEORY OF CHANGE Cultural change must precede policy change. A cultural strategy creates a meta-frame that organizes and connects multiple projects together to target a larger audience, shift public sentiment, and forge a new collective consensus around a social problem or issue. By using a cultural strategy, organizations can view their work as part of a larger, collaborative movement toward social change.
In a time when our civil and human rights are in jeopardy, it is an opportune and critical moment to come together as a society to find our common goals and values. Art has always played a pivot role in bringing people together, often in unpredictable ways. We are working in coalition to bring art to individuals who have historically been underrepresented, as well as those who have been under-engaged in cultural outreach. This includes individuals who have experienced barriers to accessing culture, and especially individuals whose voices have been excluded from artistic and cultural discourse.
Culture is not fixed. It is always in a state of influencing and being influenced. In a time of rapid change, The Federation strives to engage new audiences and provide a platform for a multiplicity of international and American stories, which together reflect the dynamics of our country’s shifting demographics toward a non-white/people of color majority within the next few decades. The Federation upholds the belief that art can empower all of us and facilitate empathy across multiple experiences of difference including the dimensions of race, ethnicity, ability, sexuality, and gender presentation which shape our identities. In our fast changing globalized world, we maintain that the very existence of national and ethnic differences can stimulate deeper awareness and understanding for society as a whole. The Federation combines the tools and skills of artists, and the emotional potential of art, with the impact-driven nature of activism.
One of the most admired and acclaimed experimental-performance artists in the United States of America, Laurie Anderson is a free-spirited, creative genius, whose work intrigues and mesmerizes audiences across the globe. From performing a sym
phony of car horns to performing on the violin wearing frozen skates, Anderson has the capability to add that rare edge to all her performances. In a career spanning over four decades, she has managed to create art using a
variety of media, be it sculpture, spoken-word songs, films or projected imaginary. She has showcased her work across various prestigious museums across the world and has released seven albums under the Warner Bros label. Popularly referred to as the ‘godmother of the New York art scene’, Anderson’s innovative performances reveal immense creative energy, when compared to contemporary artist and musicians. She is fiercely unpredictable on stage and carefully mixes her experimental compositions with pop-synthesizing beats. Some of her well-known works include ‘Duets On Ice’, ‘O Superman’, ‘Home of the Brave’, ‘Homeland’, ‘The Waters Reglitterized’ and ‘Big Science’.
Laura Michalchyshyn is the President and co-Founder with Robert Redford of Sundance Productions. She is a producer, programmer, and television executive who, for nearly twenty years, has been programming and managing cable channels in the U.S. and Canada. Established in April 2012, Sundance Productions works with the best talent, collaborators and partners to produce authentic, entertaining and unique content for U.S. and international markets. During her career Laura has commissioned hundreds of hours of scripted and non-scripted content and has worked in senior executive and creative leadership roles at Sundance Channel, Discovery Communications and Alliance Atlantis.
Most recently, Sundance Productions produced Chicagoland (CNN), Death Row Stories (CNN), Cathedrals of Culture (Berlin Film Festival), The March (PBS) and Emmy Nominee All The President’s Men Revisited (Discovery). She has also overseen and produced many original domestic and international series, including Iconoclasts, The Fabulous Beekman Boys, and Trailer Park Boys among others.
Laura Michalchyshyn has won two News and Documentary Emmys, an IDA Award and an Environmental Media Association Award.
Tanya Selvaratnam is a writer, an actor, an activist, and an Emmy-nominated and Webby- winning producer with more than twenty years of experience working in the areas of arts and social justice. She is also an experienced fundraiser, organizer, connector, and public relations strategist. To see a list of some of the public figures, organizations, and companies with whom Selvaratnam has collaborated, please visit this link.
Currently, Selvaratnam is Executive Video Producer and Director of GLAMOUR Women of the Year. With Laurie Anderson and Laura Michalchyshyn, she is the Co-Founder and Co-Organizer of The Federation, a new coalition of artists and organizations committed to keeping cultural borders open (wearethefederation.org). In 2016, she was the Founder and Producer of Filmmakers for Hillary, a collective of more than 100 artists around the country that generated dozens of videos and artworks. For more than a decade, she has been a producer with both Aubin Pictures (founded by Catherine Gund) and Di San Luca Films (founded by Chiara Clemente). For nine years, she was the Communications and Special Projects Officer for the Rubell Family Collection/ Contemporary Arts Foundation, based in Miami, FL.
Selvaratnam’s career in the arts and social justice began with her work assisting Anna Deavere Smith on the development of Twilight: Los Angeles, 1992 about the human toll of the L.A. riots, and with her position as a youth organizer on the steering committee of the NGO Forum/Fourth World Conference on Women in China in 1995. In addition, she was an organizer and researcher for the World Health Organization’s Kobe Conference on Women and Tobacco in 1999.
Born in Sri Lanka and raised in Long Beach, CA, Selvaratnam is based in New York City and Portland, Oregon. She has been a fellow at Yaddo and Blue Mountain Center. She is the author of THE BIG LIE: Motherhood, Feminism, and the Reality of the Biological Clock; and her writing has appeared in Vogue, CNN News, Bust, Huffington Post, The Stranger, PAPER, Pop and Politics, Toronto Review, Art Basel Magazine, xoJane, and Women’s eNews. In her various roles, she has been quoted in publications including The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, The New Yorker, Slate, Artforum, Cosmo, Redbook, Metro, Village Voice, PAPER, The Globe and Mail (Canada), and New York. She has been a featured guest on CNN, MSNBC, Al Jazeera, NPR, Sirius XM, Modern Hero TV, and CBS Radio News.
Selvaratnam has participated in panels and conferences around the world, from Kobe, Japan to Abu Dhabi to Hanover, Germany to Los Angeles, California. She has spoken on a variety of subjects, including public health policies regarding women, humanitarian relief work, and the future of theater. She has also conducted workshops on art and activism with students of all ages, from elementary school through graduate school. In May 2017, she received a Woman of Resilience Award from The Memo, a vocational boot-camp for young women of color.
As a producer, Selvaratnam has worked on films, live events, and exhibitions. She has produced projects by Gabri Christa, Chiara Clemente, Lisa Cortes, Liz Garbus, Catherine Gund, Le Tigre and Laura Parnes, Mickalene Thomas, Carrie Mae Weems, and Jed Weintrob, among others; and her films have played on HBO, IFC, PBS, Starz, and the Sundance Channel. Selvaratnam has produced campaigns and events for the ACLU, Center for Health and Gender Equity, EMILY’s List, Gays Against Guns, Guggenheim Museum, MoveOn, Ms. Foundation for Women, PS122,Rubell Family Collection, Women’s March on Washington, World Health Organization, and Y addo.
As a performer, Selvaratnam has toured around the world with companies including The Wooster Group and The Builders Association; and been a guest actor at New Dramatists, Lincoln Center Directors Lab, Voice & Vision Theater, and the Institute on Arts and Civic Dialogue. She has played on stages at prestigious venues around the world, such as New York’s Brooklyn Academy of Music and Lincoln Center, London’s Barbican Theatre, and Singapore’s Victoria Theatre. In April 2015, she received a MAP Artist Award supported by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
She has served on the boards of the Third Wave Fund, Boom Arts, The Wooster Group, and Groundswell Community Mural Project; and been an advisor to the NGO Committee on the Status of Women and The DO School, a Germany-based and internationally focused creative educational organization that offers learning experiences to generate global impact.
She received her graduate and undergraduate degrees in Chinese language and legal history from Harvard University. Her Masters thesis on women’s organizations in post-Tiananmen China was published in the Journal of Law and Politics.