Open letter questions Walker Art Center's '12 Years a Slave' programming

Author:
Updated:
Original:

The Walker Art Center's programming practices are being called into question over limited access to upcoming events for the film "12 Years a Slave," the Star Tribune reports.

A group of five people including activists and artists wrote an open letter to the Walker on the blog Opineseason.com. The writers claim black people were not given equal access to two different events: Wednesday's regional premiere of "12 Years a Slave," and a Nov. 9 Walker Dialogue with the film's director, Steve McQueen.

The film chronicles the true story of Solomon Northrup (Chiwetel Ejiofor), a free black man in the pre-Civil War era United States who was abducted from upstate New York and sold into slavery in the deep South.

"We are concerned that though this film is being shown, that peoples of African descent, whose ancestors’ lives and histories were disrupted by the slaveocracy, will be largely underrepresented in the audience," the letter states. "Our position is that equity is not just about the diversity in the art being shown but the material work of creating greater access to exhibitions to ensure that audiences are representative of the subject matter."

The letter asks the Walker to "open up more ticket space for both the screening and the discussion with Steve McQueen. This ticket space would be freely given to reputable organizations of our choice that work with underrepresented youth."

In response to the letter, the Walker said in a statement issued to the Star Tribune that the museum "appreciates and respects the voices of concern expressed by members of our community regarding questions of access to and representation of diverse audiences. We agree that this is a worthy and important topic for broader discussion within our arts community and we welcome this dialogue."

As for another screening, the Walker said the museum has an agreement with the film distributor that prohibits additional showings of "12 Years a Slave" since it opens in theaters Friday.

Co-produced by Minnesota filmmaker Bill Pohlad, "12 Years a Slave" took the Audience Award at the Toronto International Film Festival last month.

The open letter on Opineseason.com called it "one of the most highly recognized, fully Black cinematic collaborations in the history of film."

Next Up

court gavel

8 people charged in Medicaid fraud scheme totaling $860K

Collectively, they're charged with 46 counts of felony theft.

vaping

Minnesota gets mixed grades on its tobacco report card

In Minnesota, the economic cost due to smoking is $2.519 million with 5,910 deaths per year attributed to smoking.

Hardy Wills-Traxler

Charges: Man stabbed his father, set his home on fire

The 25-year-old has been charged with second-degree murder and first-degree arson.

Impound lot

Crowded impound lot raises COVID concerns after Minneapolis snow emergency

A vehicle owner complains about the tightly-packed impound lot following the weekend's snow.

covid-19, coronavirus

Here is Minnesota's COVID-19 update for Wednesday, Jan. 27

The latest update from the state health department.

charley's

Charges: Bar owner, employee served underage drinkers during shutdown

The bar hosted 20-30 people on Dec. 4, 2020, charges say.

police lights

Driver wearing bulletproof vest strikes pedestrian in Rochester

The 21-year-old claimed the vest keeps him warm, according to police.

Screen Shot 2019-08-19 at 8.08.05 PM

6 men charged in connection to 'disturbing trend' of carjackings, shootings

The men are accused of three carjackings in one day, as well as other crimes.

YouTube TV, FSN

Report: Fox Sports North is becoming Bally Sports North

The rebranding will reportedly happen prior to the start of the MLB season.

walmart mask

Wisconsin Senate votes to end statewide mask mandate

The joint resolution now heads to the Republican-controlled state assembly.

Related