A QUICK LOOK AT THE KENNEDY CENTER OFFERINGS IN 2016

BETTER NOT BE BOTHERED BY SOME GENDER BIAS IN THE ARTS  

If you do care about women’s participation in the live arts, be aware of some gender bias in the offerings over the months.

Reviewing the Kennedy Center News Magazine for May – August, you’d find in May at the 21st annual salute to woman jazz legend Mary Lou Williams. Many women of jazz performed in honor of Ms. Williams.  Special rhythmic performers were five Cuban women in selections from their self-titled debut CD which won a 2015 Juno for (Group) Jazz Album of the Year. Nice event promoting women in the arts.

But in June, at a “Night at the Kennedy Center DC Jazz Fest” honoring Howard University Jazz, jazz men dominated the field – 9 or 10 — to 2 or 3 jazz women (hard to get an exact count).

The KC’s new plays festival “New Visions/New Voices” celebrated its 25th anniversary in May.  It presented six new works by American playwrights, and partnered with the University of Maryland School of Theater, Dance and Performance Studies, and with young theater organizations in India, Korea and South Africa to develop new plays for young audiences.  Boundaries were pushed, creativity stressed.  An anthology of 25 years/25 Plays is being assembled.

Throughout June, the “Kennedy Center District of Comedy Festival” was cracking jokes.  In its first ever comedy festival, the KC showcased an array of celebrated comedians in performance spaces around the voluminous building.  Hope you particularly liked males, since you’d have found only two women amuse you (Jane Lynch and Mellisa Rivers in a tribute to Joan Rivers and how she changed the way America thinks about women in comedy), while nine funny men were there to give you laughs.

In the upcoming colder months, if you will be in the capital and don’t have to report to work on a weekday, you can keep warm with a Continental breakfast and coffee at National Symphony Orchestra late morning “Coffee Concerts” in the Concert Hall.  However, beware, if you are sensitive to gender concerns:  of the five concerts, October 2016 through May 2017, all five conductors will be men; two soloists will be women, one in-house; and all 15 of the compositions performed will be well-worn works by dead white men, no women composers, dead or alive.