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Institute on the Arts and Civic Dialogue Archive

Call Number



1997-2000, inclusive


Institute on the Arts and Civic Dialogue


16 Linear Feet in 13 boxes

Language of Materials

English .


The Institute on the Arts and Civic Dialogue was founded in 1997 by Anna Deavere Smith to support the development of those artworks and projects specifically concerned with social conditions and to foster dialogue between artists, activists, scholars and audiences that could both enhance the artworks and encourage a broader, more open exchange of ideas. The main activity of the Institute was the organization of three summer series where numerous works were created, staged, and discussed with the participation of volunteer audiences, teachers and professors, cultural critics and other guests. The collection consists of administrative records, artist applications, and records and documents of the artworks and theatrical productions.

Historical Note

The Institute on the Arts and Civic Dialogue (IACD) was founded in 1997 by actress, playwright, and professor Anna Deavere Smith. Its mission was to support the development of art that illuminates social conditions; to deepen the capacity of artists to communicate with their audiences; and to build an international community in which artists, students, activists, and scholars could work together to develop the artist as a voice in society.

From 1998 to 2000, Smith and The Ford Foundation, the Institute's principal funder, selected Harvard University as the IACD home base for six-week long summer intensives. Hosted by the University's American Repertory Theater and the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for Afro-American Research, the Institute brought together artists, scholars, activists, and audiences to develop and discuss works of art about the vital social issues of our time. This unique "think-and-do-tank" presented workshop versions of productions, exposing the process of creation and fostering civic discourse on the themes expressed by the work.

Activities included development of new works of art, group discussions, guest speakers, seminars and workshops for participants and selected guests, collaborative research, master classes, public forums and media projects. The Institute's artistic focus included theater, dance, jazz music, song, opera, fine arts, installation and performance art, film and video.

While the Institute still exists today, it's activities have changed since relocating to New York City. As it's website,, states: "we are now redesigning the Institute with the intention to ignite a new generation of artists who will be able to combine skill, artistic virtuosity and the intellectual passion to pose powerful questions about the state of our world and the ever evolving human condition."


Materials have wherever possible been kept in the order created by the IACD. In most cases folders are arranged within series alphabetically by folder title. In other instances folders are arranged thematically by topic within a series but this is less frequent.

  1. Series I: 1997-1998
  2. Series II: 1999
  3. Series III: 2000
  4. Series IV: Video Recordings

Scope and Content Note

The IACD Archive contains administrative records focused primarily on the practical issues of organizing the summer sessions for the years 1998, 1999, and 2000. Materials include correspondence, administrative hiring records, records for housing, intern applications and activities, budgets for the organization as well as for individual projects, and promotional materials.

The archive is organized into three main series by year. Further, each series is subdivided into appropriate subseries though these vary from year to year. Each year has a substantial main group of administrative records, organized alphabetically by folder title, and a group of artists' applications, organized alphabetically by the artist's last name. Other series present in only one year or another include production overviews, files originating from Anna Deavere Smith or concerning her work, a body of transcripts of meetings and discussion groups. Summary reports of all activities were produced for at least two years. For 1999, the bound report is located in series 2.10; for 2000, the disbound report is located in series 3.3.

For the summer season of 1998, participating artists included Donald Byrd, Dawoud Bey, Shu Lea Cheang, Michael Korie, Keith Antar Mason and Judy Baca. In 1999, invited artists included Ping Chong, Lee Breuer, Demetria Royals, Anita Gonzalez, Robbie McCauley, Bradley McCallum, Abderrahmane Sissako, Art Spiegelman, Merry Conway, Noni Pratt and the Girl's Choir of Harlem. The final year of 2000 featured such artists as Luis Alfaro, Suzzy Roche, Bill Bowers, Ysaye Barnwell, Dread Scott, and others.

Among the records of the many productions produced over those three years are records relating to the development of House Arrest by Anna Deavere Smith. This work was presented as part of the Institute in the summer of 1998; it was staged at the Mark Taper Forum in the spring of 1999 and at the Joseph Papp Public Theater in 2000. Included in this collection are records relating to its development such as transcripts of group discussions, videotapes of its staging at the Institute and finally at the Public Theater.

Series 1: 1997-1998

Subseries 1.1: Administrative Files These files are arranged alphabetically by the IACD folder title as are the folders of the following series.

Subseries 1.2: Artist Overviews

Subseries 1.3: Documentation of "House Arrest" This series is in the order created by the IACD and deals primarily with the staging of the work in 1999 at the Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles.

Subseries 1.4: Artist Applications Artist applications are arranged thematically by media and then alphabetically.

Subseries 1.5: Discussion materials and Transcripts These materials are in the order created by the IACD.

Series 2: 1999

Subseries 2.1: Administrative Files These files are arranged alphabetically by the IACD folder title

Subseries 2.2: Intern Records Records are in the order created by the IACD and reflect the active internship program of the Institute.

Subseries 2.3: Correspondence and Email Correspondence is arranged thematically while the email is arranged chronologically. The bulk of the email is correspondence sent to and from Anne MacDonald.

Subseries 2.4: Records of Anna Deavere Smith This small group of administrative records are arranged as found.

Subseries 2.5: Artist Overviews This and the next series are arranged alphabetically by artist name and by production name as organized by the IACD. The profiles are generally promotional biographical and descriptive material while the overviews are more administrative and organizational records of the productions.

Subseries 2.6: Artist Profiles

Subseries 2.7: Artist Applications This and the following two series are arranged alphabetically by last name. Only in this year are a large number of scholar applications present.

Subseries 2.8: Scholar Applications

Subseries 2.9: Ancillary Artists

Subseries 2.10: 1999 Summary Report This series consists of a single bound report detailing the activities of the Institute for the year.

Series 3: 2000

Subseries 3.1: Administrative Files These files are organized alphabetically by folder title.

Subseries 3.2: Miscellaneous Project Material This group of records represents a set found physically separated from similar material; it is preserved here in it's original order.

Subseries 3.3: 2000 Overview This is a disbound report separated into folders for each section. The table of contents is located at the front of the series.

Subseries 3.4: Appointment Protocol These files deal with the preparations and logistics of confirming and arranging the year's appointment of artists; they are arranged as found.

Subseries 3.5: Artist Applications-Appointed This and the following three series are arranged alphabetically by artist last name. Subseries 3.8 was found as a distinct group of records though the exact status of the applicants is not known.

Subseries 3.6: Artist Applications-Tentative

Subseries 3.7: Artist Applications-Rejected and Tentative Rejections

Subseries 3.8: Artist Applications-Unknown Status

Series 4: Video Recordings This series comprises recordings of some of the works staged at the Institute over the three years.

Access Restrictions

Materials are open to researchers. Please contact the Fales Library and Special Collections,, 212-998-2596.

Use Restrictions

Copyright (or related rights to publicity and privacy) for materials in this collection was not transferred to New York University. Permission to use materials must be secured from the copyright holder. Please contact the Fales Library and Special Collections,, 212-998-2596.

Preferred Citation

Published citations should take the following form:

Identification of item, date (if known); Institute on the Arts and Civic Dialogue Archive; MSS 127; box number; folder number; Fales Library and Special Collections, New York University Libraries.


These records were donated to Fales Library and Special Collections by the Institute on the Arts and Civic Dialogue in 2002.

Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements

Access copies for some materials are available by appointment for reading room viewing and listening only. Please contact, 212-998-2596.

Collection processed by

Jonathan Lill

About this Guide

This finding aid was produced using ArchivesSpace on 2023-08-20 17:11:40 -0400.
Language: Description is in English.

Revisions to this Guide

November 2019: Updated by Anna McCormick to reflect the digitization of audiovisual material

Edition of this Guide

This version was derived from iacd.xml


Fales Library and Special Collections
Fales Library and Special Collections
Elmer Holmes Bobst Library
70 Washington Square South
2nd Floor
New York, NY 10012