Create A Space NOW, founded in 2016 by Hettie Barnhill and her husband Robert Gertler, is a multimedia and performing arts platform created as the result of a need to engage and further the discussion around #BLACKLIVESMATTER and social issues dealing with race relations in America, in order to combat bias, racism, and systemic oppression. We believe the dance, music, theater, spoken word, text, and film are powerful tools for communication that should not be for entertainment value only. Rather, we use these art forms to inspire change, educate, and activate. We believe the message is the medium. We convey this in multiple ways, part “production company”, part “collaborative think-tank”, Create A Space NOW provides individuals the opportunity to connect, create, and or take part 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 Black lives. We believe seeking to end the injustices which Black people experience at the hands of systemic racism will benefit all lives.
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, creating powerful content intending to shift perspective and to 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, 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.
conversation is crucial
Is The Medium
We plan to engage every medium available. Spreading messages that combat systemic racism, police brutality, and injustice at large in America.
Art Is An Avenue For Awareness
We bring human beings together, diverse in age, sexuality, race, and gender, engaging their bodies, minds, souls, talents, and emotions in order to continue the conversation about Black lives.
Founder & Artistic Director
Movement is my first language and I use it to create work stemming from my reflection as a Black, queer woman. The work itself is a protest because of where it originates from.
Hettie is a Broadway actress, a director, a choreographer, and the owner of Movement & Characters, a school dedicated to providing industry level, professional classes in the performing arts for students of all ages, levels, and financial backgrounds, operating in Greater New York & New York City. Nominated for a 2017 New York Innovative Theater Award for Outstanding Choreography, Hettie has performed nationally and internationally and on Broadway in the production's “Spider-Man Turn Off The Dark”, Tony Award-winning “FELA!" (original cast), and the Tony award-nominated “Leap Of Faith” (original cast).
Hettie Graduated from Columbia College in Chicago, IL. Currently, Hettie is completing her Master of Fine Arts, in Interdisciplinary Studies-Performance Creation. Offstage, Hettie has taught at several Colleges and Universities and continues to use her art as therapy for people in need, receiving awards for her outreach and service in communities including: 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" Award, Twice Honored "Who's Who Of American Colleges & Universities", and an Honorary Member Of Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority.
Art is my weapon, I aim with intent.
In a world where "narrative" is far too often hijacked and re-crafted around comfort, it is important to create content in response that addresses the issues at hand and to capture conversations that educate others. It is crucial that we all use whatever skills we have, in whatever environments we're in, to do whatever we can in the name of "justice for all".
Being a filmmaker, audio engineer, and photographer, I've been able to combine the privilege of my professional and personal experience with my passion for creating captivating content that activates others to speak out against injustices everywhere.
© 2021 | Create A Space NOW