By Wayne Hazzard

November 1, 2016, PUBLISHED BY IN DANCE

In Dance Nov 2016Everything is political. And personal. This year there has been one especially momentous moment and that is the nomination, by a major political party, of our first female Presidential candidate. As a gay man brought up by a single mom and sister, and identifying as more female than male — I tend to identify as gender variant — I am ready to cast my vote.

Countries around the world have long voted in female leaders, from Presidents to Prime Ministers; there are currently women led governments in Chile, Austria, Liberia, Germany, Bangladesh, South Korea and Norway with a total of 20 female heads-of-state in all. Yet, our country, with its good ‘ole American patriarchy in play — that also dominates the arts — is terrified of giving up power to allow a woman to lead. It’s beyond time for this to happen in the U.S. and to set in motion more change towards equality, ensuring that gender does not define one’s ability to be a successful, caring and powerful leader. A new level of equity is required and the only way this will be accomplished is by electing more diverse representation within our governing bodies of power.

Artists play an important role as instigators for change towards an equitable society and I was reminded of this on a re-reading of a 1992 poem that starts out with the sentence, “I Want a Dyke for President.” Google it and be amazed by the poignancy of the message, which has resurfaced on social media posts, has recently been read at the White House in October, and has even been placed on a billboard in New York City. The piece was written by queer feminist activist Zoe Leonard, who recently stated that, “I still think that speaking up is itself a vital and powerful political act.”

If you are a San Francisco resident there is a very important measure on the November ballot that needs your support. Prop S will restore Hotel Tax funding for the arts and work to end family homelessness in San Francisco, without raising taxes. A “yes” vote will help ensure more funding for cultural equity grants, create a new neighborhood arts grants program, and provide housing and prevention services for homeless and at-risk, low-income families. Additional details on this proposition can be found at bettersf.com.

No matter where you live, it can’t be overstated that casting your vote is speaking up powerfully.

Creating dance that reflects your history is certainly a powerful way to speak up; these stories shared through movement reveal issues of diversity that lead us closer and closer to equity, which is a vital imperative.

Please enjoy the wide range of articles in this month’s issue that provide just a glimpse into the array of artists working hard for change—their way. Dance continues to have the power to impact many in boundless and joyous ways.

I plan to continue to speak up in my own unique way— join me.

Wayne Hazzard is a native Californian and as a co-founder is proud to continue his work with the Bay Area dance community as the executive director of Dancers’ Group. Hazzard is a leader in the service field who is known for his work with fiscal sponsorship and on new program development. Hazzard had a distinguished 20-year career performing the works of many notable choreographers including Ed Mock, June Watanabe, Emily Keeler, Aaron Osborne, Joe Goode and Margaret Jenkins. Coinciding with his life as a dancer, Hazzard has and continues to work as an advocate for dance.