Latest News & Press Releases

Mahogany L. Browne and Urban Word to Receive Marian MacDowell Arts Advocacy Award at MacDowell Virtual Benefit

- November 10, 2021

Type: Press Releases, Events

Writer, organizer, and educator Mahogany L. Browne photographed by Jasmine Clarke in MacDowell Fellow Mimi Lien’s (2012) installation, The Green, in Lincoln Center’s plaza, summer of 2021.

Writer, organizer, and educator Mahogany L. Browne photographed by Jasmine Clarke in MacDowell Fellow Mimi Lien’s (2012) installation, The Green, in Lincoln Center’s plaza, summer of 2021. (Jasmine Clark photo)

Second Annual Arts Advocacy Award to be presented during free program of performances, readings, and online auction.

Writer, organizer, and educator Mahogany L. Browne will receive the second annual Marian MacDowell Arts Advocacy Award on behalf of Urban Word – one of the oldest and most comprehensive youth literary arts organizations in the country – during MacDowell’s National Benefit to be held virtually December 7, 2021. The award was created to honor those who profoundly and uniquely support artists, aligning with our founder Marian MacDowell’s legacy and her championship of artists as they create bold new works that spark our imagination, illuminate our world, and celebrate our humanity.

“It is my absolute honor to receive this award on behalf of Urban Word,” said Browne. “As a member of its community since 2003, I have learned from the young people as much as I have mentored. It is within the learning space of Urban Word that I am reminded of the power of literacy, voice, and civic engagement. And because of the pedagogical approach designed by Urban Word facilitators and alums, the new world can grow the culture of Hip Hop, archive and affect policymaking, create spaces for compassion and self-care practices, and utilize literary text and performance to activate the people in search of liberation.

“Poetry and the literary arts have the power to ignite all flames, and I am excited for the next stage of Urban Word as our young people transition into professors, public speakers, authors, humanitarians, and leaders.”

MacDowell Fellow and author Cathy Park Hong, whose book Minor Feelings: An Asian American Reckoning, was a Pulitzer Prize finalist and won the National Book Critics Circle Award for autobiography, will host, and author, visual artist, and MacDowell Board of Directors Chair Nell Painter will present the 2021 Award to Browne, who is also Urban Word’s artistic director.

This year's theme is "Met at MacDowell: Creative Collaboration," and during the evening we will hear directly from artists who collaborated or connected through the residency, and how the exchange of ideas between artists is just one of the benefits of the time and space provided by MacDowell.

The evening, which is open to the public and free of charge, can be accessed with a link that will be available via RSVP here. The benefit, which begins at 7 p.m. ET, will include a special reading from the recently announced 2022 New York City Youth Poet Laureate Elizabeth Shvarts, and performances and testimonials from MacDowell Fellows, including architect Peter Zuspan (2014), interdisciplinary artist and choreographer Raphael Xavier (2014), poet John Murillo (2017), animation artist Anne Beal (2017), composer Christopher Zuar (2017), and Tony Award winner Nikki M. James singing a composition written by Shaina Taub (2012).

This year’s award is being underwritten by Musa and Tom Mayer.

An online auction will take place throughout the evening to raise critical operating funds for the 114-year-old organization. Items donated by Fellows and supporters will represent the creativity that MacDowell engenders and range in prices to allow everyone to participate in the celebrations. Please visit our benefit webpage to RSVP for free or purchase items for viewing parties. The online auction opens on Tuesday, November 30, and will stay open until December 8.

Mahogany L. Browne is the executive director of JustMedia, a media literacy initiative designed to support the groundwork of criminal justice leaders and community members. She is the author of recent works: Chlorine Sky, Woke: A Young Poets Call to Justice, Woke Baby, and Black Girl Magic. Browne is the founder of the diverse lit initiative Woke Baby Book Fair. Her latest poetry collection: I Remember Death by Its Proximity to What I Love is a book-length poem responding to the impact of mass incarceration on women and children. She is based in Brooklyn and is the first-ever Poet-in-Residence at Lincoln Center.

Urban Word elevates youth voices as leaders at the intersection of the literary arts and civic engagement. Through the transformative power of the written and spoken word, Urban Word provides young, creative voices, often those who are marginalized, the tools, training, and platforms to rewrite the narratives that shape their lives and their communities. The founder and curator of the National Youth Poet Laureate program, Urban Word provides platforms for critical literacy, youth development, and leadership through free and uncensored writing, social impact, and performance workshops and opportunities.

Buy tickets and RSVP here.