By Nancy Proctor
Storytelling at its best can change the world.
This weekend, the ancient Greek tale Antigone is at the heart of an important dialogue about activism and empowerment. The Onassis Cultural Center in New York hosts the Antigone Now festival from October 13 -16, inspired by Sophocles’ tragic story of a young woman’s fatal choice between her personal ethics and the rule of law. Premiering a new performance by Carrie Mae Weems, Antigone Now explores contemporary resonances with this classical figure through visual and performing arts, family programs, and digital media. Antigone’s struggle puts our own Civil Rights movement and today’s interrogation of the judicial system and the role of law enforcement in American society into a human context that is millennia old. Her story reminds us that our own stories are part of a deep tradition of making a world for ourselves in which we don’t just survive, but we thrive.
The Festival also brings the much-needed light and the warmth of stories authentically told and shared in the form of a digital activism initiative called #iSTANDfor. Drawing from Antigone’s famed courage in standing for what she believed, #iSTANDfor encourages people around the world to share stories of what matters to them via their social media channels and a dedicated web site. #iSTANDfor celebrates people around the globe whose individual and collective acts of heroism and bravery are changing our world for the better.
For those of us at the MuseWeb Foundation, the new initiative from the International Museums and the Web Conference, not only does the festival affirm our belief in the power of storytelling, it also reminds us of the importance of visual and performing arts in expressing those stories. At MuseWeb, we stand for many things—for inclusion, innovation, and democratic access to culture; for creativity, participation, and free and open data; for libraries, galleries, archives, public monuments and community cultural centers. We stand for museums and the people their collections and cultural knowledge are here to serve both today and for the millennia to come.
MuseWeb is joining the #iSTANDfor campaign by showing our support and our belief that museums, both big and small, matter. Please help us tell the world you stand for museums. Use the #iSTANDfor #museums hashtags on social media and tell us why museums are so critical to you in today’s rapidly changing world. Get our attention @museweb on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
And, if you’re in New York later this week, the Antigone Now is free and open to the public at the Onassis Cultural Center New York (645 5th Avenue, New York, NY). Visit the festival website at http://www.onassisfestivalny.org. Find out more about the MuseWeb Foundation at http://www.museweb.us/about/.
Nancy Proctor is Executive Director of the MuseWeb Foundation, and Co-chair and Co-editor of MW’s international conferences and publications. She is a Classicist and Art Historian by training and has been inspired by the story of Antigone’s ethical stand for 30-some years.