Hope Mohr Dance changes name to Bridge Live Arts
Bridge Live Arts (B.L.A.), formerly Hope Mohr Dance (HMD), has announced the organization’s new name, a change that reflects years of intentional work to move away from the tradition of a founder-led, hierarchical nonprofit and toward an emerging new model. Grounded in collective vision, the newly-named Bridge Live Arts will continue to grow its capacity to present performance, embodied practice, and public dialogue that embraces social justice, builds community, and centers artists as agents of change.
In 2020, HMD announced a shift to distributed co-leadership, naming Cherie Hill, Karla Quintero, and Hope Mohr as co-leaders. The three directors have equal weight in all of the organization’s artistic, financial, and strategic decision-making, instead of solely Mohr, a move that had been in the works since 2018. Hill, Quintero, and Mohr will continue to co-lead the newly-named Bridge Live Arts. The organization will also establish a resident choreographer program; Mohr has already moved from Artistic Director to resident choreographer status and the organization plans to bring in other resident choreographers in the future.
The shift to distributed leadership is not the only recent organizational move. Within the last two years, the Board transitioned to 100% working artists; the company established pay equality across the organization (now dancers and co-directors alike make the same hourly starting wage); Mohr stepped off the Board and the selection panel for the organization’s Community Engagement Residency; and HMD established a new mission, values, and operating principles, with input from artists the organization has partnered with through its various programs.
“This renaming is an important next step, an invitation to continue to evolve together away from inherited paternalistic dynamics that value production over community building in the arts,” states Karla Quintero, Bridge Live Arts Co-Director. “As we have evolved as an organization—ever in the direction of a collective vision that embraces multiple perspectives on artmaking, performance, and artists’ needs—our distributed leadership structure has opened new channels for artists to influence various aspects of the organization, shaping everything from what we present to our budget.”
“I know that building this distributed model is not all about me, or my fellow co-directors; it is about growing Bridge Live Arts in conjunction with the opinions and concerns voiced by artists we collaborate with,” shares Co-Director Cherie Hill. “At the center of our work are artists, and the inclusion of artists within our decision-making model has been integral from the start to the present. We will continue to center artists and our community as we move forward.”
As Bridge Live Arts, the organization will offer public workshops and dialogues, multidisciplinary performances, events, choreographic explorations, and residencies. The company will build upon its 12-year track record of activist cultural programming through the continuation of its Community Engagement Residency (CER) program, which provides year-long support to movement artists to engage in social justice projects in their communities. Current CER lead artists include Andreina Maldonado, jose e. abad, and Stephanie Hewett.
“Our shift to a model of distributed leadership reflects a sea change in the performing arts away from hierarchy. This change reflects a groundswell in the field toward models that center artists and center equity. This is artist-driven work and justice-driven work. It is possible to re-imagine how we work as artists. Not only possible, but necessary,” shared Hope Mohr, founder and Co-Director.
In 2007, choreographer Hope Mohr founded Hope Mohr Dance (HMD). In 2010, Mohr created The Bridge Project, an activist curatorial platform that built community among artists across genre, geography, and perspective. For more than a decade, HMD served as a platform for Mohr’s original choreographic work, premiering 40+ original works and performing across the U.S. as The Bridge Project presented unique multi-disciplinary programs bringing artists and activists together. Programming highlights have included Radical Movements: Gender and Politics in Performance (2017), a festival that asked, “What does it mean to have a radical body”. The Bridge Project has also presented two groundbreaking programs re-examining iconic dance lineage from a multi-disciplinary perspective, including Ten Artists Respond to Locus, a partnership with the Trisha Brown Dance Company, and Signals from the West: Bay Area Artists in Conversation with Merce at 100, a partnership with the Merce Cunningham Trust and SFMOMA’s Open Space.
More recently, Hill, Mohr, and Quintero have been invited to speak about distributed leadership to many major arts organizations and conferences, including Dance/NYC, Dance/USA, National Performance Network, Creating New Futures, Western Arts Alliance, New Yorkers for Culture and the Arts, and currently offer consulting on shared leadership work for other arts organizations.
To learn more about Bridge Live Arts visit bridgelivearts.org