Originally broadcast at 10:45 a.m. ET Friday, August 26, 2022.
Seattle-based polymath Benjamin Hunter is an award-winning multi-instrumentalist, composer, creative and cultural advocate, social entrepreneur, producer and educator. In 2021, he was named artistic director at Northwest Folklife, one of the longest and largest folk festivals in the country. At Northwest Folklife, Hunter’s goal is to reclaim the definition of “folk” through programming that challenges stigmas and misnomers that too often box artists into genres, and create systems and platforms that leverage the collective, creative ecosystem to collaboratively tackle inequities challenging creatives worldwide, including healthcare, standard of living, and commensurate pay. It is this work that will frame his Chautauqua Lecture Series presentation to close the 2022 Summer Assembly Season. Hunter’s work explores the intersections of music and art, community, policy, and culture. His creative accolades include taking first place in the 2016 International Blues Competition for his America roots duo with Joe Seamons. In 2018, Hunter composed the music for the performance art piece Black Bois, which explores the concept of Black masculinity, suffering, and ultimate triumph. He is currently working on a double album of these songs. In 2011, Hunter founded Community Arts Create, an organization that creates space and opportunity for people of all ages and backgrounds to engage with their individual and collective creative identities. In 2013, Hunter co-founded the Hillman City Collaboratory, a “social incubator” that has brought and maintained camaraderie, inclusiveness, education, and social well-being to the residents in and around an area that is seeing rapid shifts due to unrelenting displacement. Three years later, he co-founded Black & Tan Hall, a co-operatively owned restaurant and performing arts venue, shifting the for-profit paradigm to an alternative platform that is hyper-local, built by and for people rooted in community, and serves as an anti-gentrification model that combats displacement and sustains good jobs. Hunter sits on the Seattle Music Commission, is co-chair of the Columbia Hillman Arts & Culture District, was a 2019 Gordon Ekvall Tracie Memorial Awardee, a 2020/2021 Artist-in-Residence at On The Boards, and was a 2020 Artist Trust Fellowship Awards recipient.
About Chautauqua Institution: Chautauqua Institution is a community on the shores of Chautauqua Lake in southwestern New York state that comes alive each summer with a unique mix of fine and performing arts, lectures, interfaith worship and programs, and recreational activities. As a community, we celebrate, encourage and study the arts and treat them as integral to all of learning, and we convene the critical conversations of the day to advance understanding through civil dialogue. CHQ Assembly is the online expression of Chautauqua Institution's mission.