Sunday 12:30-1:00pm, UPSTAIRS THEATRE

Panelists : Dedunu Sylvia, Bridget Bartolini, Aneesh Sheth, Jean Marie and Sameena Mustafa

Moderator: Nikita Chaudhary 

Why does my show matter? Artists discuss their commitment to making work that addresses pressing social issues and changes the way we perceive the world. While some artists use traditional forms of visual, literary, or performing arts to make work that comments on, responds to, or advocates for the need for change, others are exploring new art forms that engage communities and provide calls for action.  

Bridget Bartolini:

Bridget Bartolini is a native New Yorker who passionately loves her city and wants to make it a better place to live. As a socially engaged artist, her creative practice is grounded in storytelling and community education, and partially inspired by her frustration with the lack of cultural programming in areas like where she grew up in Queens. In 2011, while pursuing her Master’s Degree in in Community Education from Teachers College, Columbia University, she began producing public programs that pay homage to the people and places in New York that are often overlooked. In April 2013, Bridget launched the Five Boro Story Project to create community storytelling programs that bring New Yorkers together through personal stories and art inspired by their neighborhoods. These programs aim to strengthen community connections, preserve local history, and challenge stereotypes of marginalized neighborhoods in New York City. Since then she has produced storytelling and arts events throughout NYC’s five boroughs.

Aneesh Sheth :

Ms. Aneesh Sheth is a singer and actress. She attended New York University's Tisch School of the Arts for Musical Theatre and after receiving her BFA, she travelled the country performing in musicals including A.R. Rahman’s Bombay Dreams as Sweetie in 2006. In 2008 she returned to New York University to pursue a Master's Degree in Social Work and dedicated her time throughout the next few years working with lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning youth as a counselor with The Trevor Project and a patient advocate at Beth Israel Medical Center.  After spending her life thus far in the Big Apple, she relocated to the San Francisco in early 2010. She returned to the stage working with several Bay area companies including PlayGround SF, Playwrights Foundation and The Asian American Theatre Company. In early 2011, Aneesh was a guest star on NBC's Thursday night sitcom Outsourced playing a transgender character marking the debut of the first South Asian transgender woman on network television. Now residing back in New York City, she is most notably known as Carly in the critically acclaimed Public Theater production of Southern Comfort, hich garnered six nominations, two Lucille Lortel wins and a New York Times Critic's Pick. Along with her work in theatre, film, and television, she is an activist, panelist and committee member with many national organizations. She is represented by Nicolosi & Co.

Jean Marie McKee:

Jean Marie McKee is a New York City writer and actor.  She is a member of Naked Angels Theater Company.   With Naked Angels, she created and is Program Director of 3T, a free playwriting program for public high school students.  Now in its sixth year, 3T ( offers creative writing workshops and summer programs completely free to all NYC public high school students.   

Dedunu Sylvia: 

Dedunu Suraweera is a Staten Island-bred Sri Lankan immersed in NYC public education, theatre arts, & organizing. She has organized on issues of precarious labor, racial justice, and education. Dedunu is currently a Community School Director in Queens, NY working with South Asian & other youth of color along the intersections of academics, social-emotional learning, social justice, and community wellness.

Sameena Mustafa:  

Sameena Mustafa is a dedicated member of her community and has served on boards at NPR/Chicago Public Media, YWCA, and United Way.  Professionally, she advises nonprofits and small businesses as a commercial real estate broker.  A Northwestern University graduate, Sameena is also a stand-up comedian, actor and writer.



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