The University Musical Society (UMS) welcomes Flint-based musician, performing artist, and activist Tunde Olaniran as the 2019-20 UMS Education and Community Engagement Research Residency Artist. This research residency program, funded in part by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, seeks to bring performing artists whose work engages with issues of social justice, public practice, or intercultural understanding to the University of Michigan (U-M) campus.
A beloved fixture of the Detroit music scene, as well as a product of the growing artistic community in Flint, Olaniran will be collaborating with fellow Flint artists Talicia Campbell (vocalist and choral composer), Terra Lockhart (sculptor/visual artist), and Emma Davis (dancemaker and UM-Flint Theatre & Dance Department faculty) on a new multimedia piece about bridging the cultural divides within the southeastern Michigan region. The project will also feature a chorus that comprises singers from Flint, Detroit, and Ann Arbor.
“Being invited into this residency came at a perfect time for me as an artist. It’s providing an environment to develop multi-disciplinary works with a cohort of women artists from my hometown of Flint,” said Tunde. “Thanks to UMS, we will have an opportunity to widen the conversation with different faculty and students on campus, as well as the time and space to deeply collaborate on this work. Living in Michigan, it’s clear to me how deeply divided the arts communities can be across the state, and we hope the full life of this work will help bridge gaps between multiple communities in Ann Arbor, Flint, and Detroit.”
Tunde and his collaborators have been in residence in Ann Arbor for several periods throughout the 2019-20 season to draw upon the human, intellectual, and archival resources of the U-M and Southeast Michigan communities, and they will return to campus to continue their research and engagement March 16-30. While in Ann Arbor, Olaniran will share his process and artistic practice with U-M students and faculty, as well as the greater Ann Arbor and Southeast Michigan communities, through class visits, public rehearsals and choreography sessions, workshops, and talks. His residency will culminate in a live performance on March 27 at the Blind Pig.
A recipient of the 2014 National Medal of Arts, UMS (also known as the University Musical Society) contributes to a vibrant cultural community by connecting audiences with performing artists from around the world in uncommon and engaging experiences. One of the oldest performing arts presenters in the country, UMS is an independent non-profit organization affiliated with U-M, presenting over 70 music, theater, and dance performances by professional touring artists each season, along with over 100 free educational activities. UMS is committed to bold artistic leadership, engaged learning through the arts, and access and inclusiveness. Since 1990, the organization has co-commissioned and supported the production of nearly 80 new or reimagined works. Matthew VanBesien became the organization’s seventh president in July 2017.
MAIN PHOTO: Talicia Campbell (L-R), Emma Davis, Tunde Olaniran and Terra Lockhart. Photo courtesy UMS