Create A Space NOW is an interactive social justice platform, creating art to combat bias, racism, and systemic oppression. We believe that dance, music, theater, spoken word, text, and film are powerful tools for communication that should not be for entertainment value only. We use these art forms to inspire change, educate, and activate.
Create A Space NOW began because of a need to engage and further the discussions about the silencing of Black Lives and social issues dealing with race relations in America. We believe the message is the medium and convey this in multiple ways. A “collaborative think-tank” and “reimagined production company,” we develop interdisciplinary performance art-based products as educational tools to affect change. We have presented our projects on stage, on screen, in print, and online.
Create A Space NOW centers the intersection of art and activism in our mission, work, and outreach. We provide opportunities for artists of color and intersecting identities to develop their own works for continued change-making in their communities and host community workshops in dance, theatre, public speaking, and filmmaking, educating and empowering participants on how these art forms are effective change-making tools. These workshops promote cultural values, health and wellness, and leadership skills.
Create A Space NOW invites individuals to connect, create, and participate in projects that leave accountable artistic professional footprints in our society. Our artists, contributors, and volunteers are diverse in race, gender identity, spirituality, sexuality, and body shape. All standing for social justice. We believe that seeking to end the injustices which Black people and people of color experience at the hands of systemic racism will benefit all lives.
We collaborate with a diverse range of artists and contributors for every project on our platform. Our partnerships span community organizations, local and national businesses, corporations, and educational institutions.
We plan to highlight our community members on this site, showcasing them for our supporters to discover, learn from, and engage with as they embark on their creative and collaborative journeys with Create A Space NOW and beyond.
Please be patient as we build this section out.
Founder & Artistic Director
Hettie Barnhill is a Broadway performer, director, dance practitioner, educator, and choreographer and is the founder of Create A Space NOW. Nominated for a New York Innovative Theater Award for Outstanding Choreography, Hettie has performed nationally and internationally on television, Film, and Stage including on Broadway in the productions "Spider-Man Turn Off The Dark," Tony Award-winning "FELA!" (original cast), and the Tony award-nominated "Leap Of Faith" (original cast).
Using art as therapy, Hettie has received awards for her outreach and service in communities, including Honored by the California Senate with a Certificate of Special Congressional Recognition, "Using Film as a Vehicle For Community Engagement and Education" by Congressman Ro Khanna and California Senator Bob Wieckowski for her direction and Create A Space NOW's production, A Love Letter To Brian, Lesley, and Michelle. She has also received the NAACP's "Top 21 Leaders 40 & Under Award" In The Fields Of Arts & Culture, Twice Honored As A "Rising Star" By The Young & Powerful For Obama Group, The Shirley Chisholm "Women Of Excellence." Since 2006, Hettie has worked with A Long Walk Home Inc., a nonprofit organization that uses art therapy and the visual and performing arts to document, educate and bring about social change for survivors of rape and violence.
As an educator, Hettie has taught at several Colleges and Universities, sharing her love for dance and exploring how to create spaces where form and technique are being learned, perspective is being shared, culture is being experienced, and history is being discussed. In addition, she has worked as a Visiting Artist-In-Residence in Dance at Skidmore College in Saratoga, NY, a Visiting Asst. Professor of Theater and Dance at Nazareth College in Rochester, NY, and Stephens College in Columbia, MO. She has also been a Guest Artist at the University Of Rochester, Suny Potsdam, Suny Brockport, Suny New Paltz, and Sam Houston State University. Hettie graduated from Columbia College Chicago with a Bachelor of Arts in Dance and has her Master of Fine Arts Interdisciplinary Arts, Performance Creation Concentration from Goddard College focusing on Art and Activism.
History and Background
Founder Hettie Barnhill, a Choreographer, Director, Professor, and Broadway Performer, born and raised in St. Louis, Missouri, and East St. Louis, Illinois, traveled back home with her partner Robert Gertler in 2014, shortly after the police murder of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. After participating in the protests that erupted prior to his murder, now commonly regarded as the birthplace of the Black Lives Matter movement, they traveled back to New York with the overwhelming urgency and feeling of responsibility to continue the fight for justice. Deciding to center their work and art around issues that called for equality, equity, and justice for all.
In 2016, Hettie gathered a group of co-workers and friends to create a video that intersected dance and text while addressing current issues of social justice and the justice system, not knowing it would register over 50,000 views in the first few days. After seeing the impact and long reach of the first video, and having doors open that only encouraged this conversation to continue, they established Create A Space NOW. Making a series of videos, blending art and conversation, and creating powerful content intending to shift perspective and activate viewers at the same time.
In 2019, Create A Space NOW produced its first immersive, site-specific theatrical experience using dance, film, and text. It debuted at the 2019 Rochester Fringe Festival at the Fielding Stage at Geva Theatre Center. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, they adapted the stage play into the film “a love letter to Brian, Lesley, and Michelle”, directed by Hettie Barnhill.
Today, Create A Space NOW’s platform is growing and is home to new conversations, media works, LIVE performances, and talkback forums. As we expand, we look forward to bringing our projects into communities near and far, providing workshops that focus on the performing arts and activism, and corporate inclusion training through art and social engagements creating new spaces for artists and their work to educate, activate, and affect change.
Create A Space NOW is sponsored by Performance Zone Inc- The Field, a not-for-profit, tax-exempt, 501(c)(3) organization serving the performing arts community. Contributions to Create A Space NOW are tax-deductible to the extent allowed by law.
Create A Space NOW uses all donations to continue our work, creating purposeful art to engage, educate, and inspire change from within Black & Brown communities, locally and at large.