Nayantara is one of the four new team members joining EmcArts this year. Read more about our team on our website.
Nayantara is a writer, strategic communications practitioner, social justice educator and network-builder. She began her career in community organizing for immigrant rights, and then joined the non-profit sector as a professional social justice trainer. As the Network Associate at RaceForward: The Center for Racial Justice Innovation, she wrote and delivered training curricula, and consulted with a wide range of organizations on the integration and operationalization of equity strategies and anti-oppression frameworks. Since the mid 2000’s, Nayantara has trained thousands of non-profit and philanthropic sector professionals, students, educators, administrators, funders, grassroots activists, labor organizers, public health and social service workers in race, gender and class analysis.
In addition to her training practice, where she integrates popular education and Theatre of Oppressed methodologies, Nayantara has also curated dynamic, interdisciplinary programs at the intersection of arts and social justice. Last year, she produced community dialogues on art and environmental trauma at The Foundry Theatre, and a public programs series for the award-winning oral history project on mixed-race identity politics, Crossing Borders, Bridging Generations at the Brooklyn Historical Society.
She is currently an M.A candidate at the Gallatin School of Individualized Study at NYU, where she studies Creative Writing, Postcolonial Literature and Social Movement Theory. She has a B.A in English Literature and Asian-Pacific American Studies from Michigan State University. She is an Advisory Board member of Youngist.org, and a Board Member of CAAAV, a 30-year old pan-Asian community based organization that builds power for low-income immigrants and refugees in New York City.
As the Communications Manager at EmcArts, Nayantara leverages all her experiences with storytelling, organizational change, social equity and network-building. She works closely with the entire EmcArts team to document, connect, and amplify stories and lessons of innovation and adaptive change from program participants, as well as from the larger arts and cultural field.
Who and what inspires you to work towards innovation and adaptive change in the arts?
“I’m a fiction writer, and I love to read and write stories of deep learning, inquiry and transformation. I’m inspired by authors and poets who imagine new possibilities for how art and storytelling lives in the world – how art enlivens, sustains, heals and builds adaptive capacities and resilience. I’m especially inspired by the work of immigrant authors (like Hanif Kureishi, Monica Ali and Edwidge Danticat) who “create dangerously” and propose that the connections between art, experimentation and the survival of our communities are close, so much closer than we realize.”
What do you wish you could see more of in the arts and social sectors?
“Although I’ve been working to mobilize people for social justice, I find that the social sector is still lacking viable spaces where people can be truly creative, and where artistic practice is valued for it’s ability to transform complex situations. I dislike the siloes that split cultural organizing and artistic production from policy, organizing, and education. I wish there were more spaces for risky work that contaminates rigid boundaries in order to build real solutions to inequity.”