Willie Ney, Executive Director, Office of Multicultural Arts Initiative
University of Wisconsin-Madison Office of Multicultural Arts Initiatives is one of the presenting partners for the Marc Bamuthi Joseph’s upcoming performance on Saturday, April 24th at 8 pm at the Wisconsin Union Theater. We wanted to learn a bit more about their organization so we talked to Executive Director Willie Ney.
What is the University of Wisconsin-Madison Office of Multicultural Arts Initiatives mission?
The Office of Multicultural Arts Initiatives (OMAI) provides culturally relevant and transformative arts programming to promote positive social dialogue and to give cultural art forms a legitimate academic forum. By harnessing the broad cultural influence of spoken word, hip hop and emerging as well as traditional art forms, OMAI initiatives create learning environments that improve retention and graduation success and prepares future leaders to reinvest in their communities. Founded in 2005, OMAI is a unit of the School of Education at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Check out our website at: www.omai.wisc.edu
Why did you choose to sponsor Marc amuthi Joseph?
I brought Marc Bamuthi Joseph to Madison for the first time in the fall of 2005 to be part of Cinefest which I coordinated (when I was with the Latin American, Caribbean and Iberian Studies Program) that was tied into the Wisconsin Book Festival that year. He performed at all-school assemblies at West and East High Schools and was really one of the founding personalities of my current program, the Office of Multicultural Arts Initiatives as well as the First Wave Spoken Word and Hip Hop Arts Learning Community that is housed in OMAI.
Is there anything else you would like to share?
As the first University arts program to win the coveted Governor's Award in Support of the Arts in its twenty-nine year history (in 2009), OMAI is proud to note that Marc Bamuthi Joseph was a key figure in our foundational history and anyone who witnesses his genius, compassion and community-spirit on or off a stage will be truly inspired and blessed.
Interview by: Andrea Breneman, Marketing Intern
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