“At first I was afraid, I was petrified. Keep thinking I could never live, in a world so gentrified. I spent way too many nights, crying how it’s done me wrong, til I remembered, I’ve been surviving all along.”

It’s true. 2016 was a tough year. There were so many moments met with tears, frustration, and yes, at times fear. I saw it many times in the faces of my fellow artists, friends, family and strangers whose eyes locked with mine on the street. I saw the fear of deportation, fear of losing our civil rights, fear for the destruction of our planet and the fear created by the misunderstanding of differing opinions and beliefs. I was terrified at the amount of hatred I witnessed, but also empowered by the love I saw in return. I was inspired by the strong voices of my peers and by the resilience of the arts. For the first time in a very long time, I embraced the spirit of The Nutcracker. All the fears of 2016 washed away during those hours when I thought, maybe someone in the audience was believing in magic. The same magic I believed in, seeing it for the very first time decades ago. I welcomed the familiar, once tedious, nights when families of all different walks of life shared a special evening together under one chandelier. I found comfort in the fact that my track record for surviving The Nutcracker was 100% thus far, and that our track record for overcombing, I mean overcoming the strongest of odds is equally high. Though 2016 tried to widen the rifts that divide us, we managed to persevere through the things that unite us, as we always do.

The arts have always been a safe haven for those who feel disenfranchised. The arts have been home to people, both on stage and in the audience, of every ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, social status, and belief. On days when I felt most distressed, I found solace in the studio and on the stage. I watched my fellow women, my homosexual friends, my colleagues on work visas, come together in support of each other as our livelihood felt threatened. Attending community panels, scrolling through my newsfeed, checking up on friends, I witnessed creative minds using their craft to speak out against these threats, peacefully and effectively, uniting those who feel alone and afraid. I urge all of you who feel like you may have nowhere else to turn to reach out to your arts community. There will be many who feel the same way you do, and will graciously embrace you with open arms and hearts.

My envy of peers working in European countries subsided after I heard the results of our Presidential election (but hey, if you have room on your couch let me know). Often times I wished that our government gave more federal and public funding and job security for artists, as many European countries do. For once, I was grateful for the lack of political power needed to maintain the arts in America. I know the arts will continue to prosper, through the support of our community, private donations and each other. The arts have managed to survive worse years than 2016, and I’m confident they will continue to do so now…my pointe exactly.