The School of Performing Arts presents “Art, Community, Ecology, and Health,” a colloquium series of free talks and workshops on the power and practice of art and culture as essential elements of healthy communities. The talks will be held at the Blacksburg Public Library.

The presentations are meant to open dialogue on the practical values of art as a core element for building strong communities. 

On Feb. 20, essayist, novelist, arts journalist, and theatre historian Todd London will present “Let Me Sit with You a While, or The Challenge of Theatre Is the Challenge of the World,” exploring conflict and communion in society.  

Before becoming the head of the Master of Fine Arts Playwriting Program at the New School in New York City, London served for 18 years as artistic director for the New Dramatists, for which he created programs and worked closely with more than 150 of the country’s leading playwrights and advocated nationally and internationally for hundreds more. He is also the current director of theatre relations for The Dramatists Guild of America. 

A young woman with dark hair, dark eyes, in a blue top.
Lanxing Fu

Virginia Tech alumna Lanxing Fu will speak on March 19. Fu is co-director of Superhero Clubhouse, a community of artists and scientists engaged in a long-term experiment to understand how theatre can help shift consciousness in the face of climate change and environmental injustice. She will share her holistic approach to building climate justice through creative practice, using the tools of theatre. Fu earned bachelor’s degrees at Virginia Tech in both theatre and humanities, science, and environment in 2014.

On April 9, Brandi and Carlton Turner will speak on using the arts and agriculture to support the rural community and cultural and economic development in their hometown of Utica, Mississippi. They are leaders in a new research project investigating how creative approaches to community development may tackle the problem of access to healthy food in Utica, a low and moderate income, predominantly Black rural community. 

On left, a man in a blue and white shirt, with tie and blue vest; on right, a woman with a blue scarf around her neck.
Carlton and Brandi Turner

The Turners are pioneers in taking a place-based approach to using digital media, agriculture, and arts to promote the legacy and vision of their community. They are the leadership team for the Mississippi Center for Cultural Production (Sipp Culture), which promotes economic empowerment and self-sufficiency of low- and moderate-income people through education, technical assistance, training, and mentoring in agribusiness. 

All talks will be held at 4 p.m. at the Blacksburg Public Library, located at 200 Miller St. in Blacksburg. 

The School of Performing Arts Colloquium Series is supported by the Blacksburg Public Library; Virginia Tech’s Women and Minority Artists and Scholars Lecture Series; the Center for Food Systems and Community Transformation in the Department of Agricultural, Leadership, and Community Education; the Center for Communicating Science; the Community Change Collaborative; the Institute for Policy and Governance; and Christiansburg Institute Inc.