Home News & Events Webinar: Art to Bridge Divides

Webinar: Art to Bridge Divides

Curious how to address our growing divisions? Tune into a hopeful conversation about how the arts can be a tool for connection.

Webinar: Art to Bridge Divides

Tuesday, June 15 from 11:30am – 12:30pm CDT

Arts Midwest and Welcoming America convene a discussion about arts’ role in bridging our cultural divisions as part of America Talks & The National Week of Conversation. Hear from a panel of arts leaders about how they’ve been able to deploy creativity as a healing tool and learn tangible ways that you can connect across the divisions present in your own families and communities.

The first 100 people to sign-up will receive a code for a free screening of the film, The Reunited States, a powerful and urgent documentary that follows four everyday heroes on the difficult journey of bridging our political and racial divides. Codes will be valid from June 13 through June 16.

After the webinar, we’ll also send all attendees a toolkit of resources to dig in deeper.


Sign Up for the Webinar



Closed captioning will be available for this webinar. A recording of the webinar will be posted within 48 hours.


Meet the Panel

Rachel Perić Headshot

Rachel Perić (Moderator)

Executive Director of Welcoming America

Rachel Perić is Executive Director of Welcoming America, an NGO that works globally to build communities where everyone – including immigrants – can thrive and belong. The granddaughter of Holocaust survivors, Rachel has worked throughout her career with local leaders whose innovative solutions to pluralism, governance and community building in an era of migration are the inspiration for her work and advocacy, and the subject of her published writing in USA Today, CNN, and numerous media outlets across the country. Rachel also serves on the board of Art and Remembrance, a nonprofit devoted to using art and personal narrative to recognize individual courage and resilience. Ms. Peric holds a BA in International Studies from Johns Hopkins University and a Masters in Public Management from the University of Maryland.

Annabel Soutar Headshot

Annabel Soutar

Playwright & Theatre Producer

Annabel Soutar is a Montreal-based playwright and theatre producer. In 2000 she co-founded Porte Parole Productions with actor Alex Ivanovici. The Company’s mission is to produce entertaining documentary plays that create a transformational sense of civic engagement in its audiences. Annabel studied Theatre at Princeton University. Since 1998 she has written 8 documentary plays including Seeds, Sexy béton, The Watershed, and Fredy. Since 2016 Soutar has been working with co-authors and actors Alex Ivanovici and Brett Watson on The Assembly – a devised series of documentary plays exploring the phenomenon of political polarization. Episodes have been produced in Montreal, at the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center at the University of Maryland, and in Germany at the Munich Kammerspiele. Future episodes are currently being developed in the US, Lithuania, Brazil, and France.

Ben Rekhi Headshot

Ben Rekhi

Narrative & Documentary Filmmaker

Ben Rekhi is an award-winning narrative and documentary filmmaker. After working with the Coen Brothers on O Brother, Where Art Thou? Rekhi was hired by George Clooney to shoot the behind-the-scenes for Confessions of a Dangerous Mind. Rekhi’s debut feature film was SXSW Audience Award Winner Waterborne, about a fictional biological attack on LA’s water supply, which was released by the Sundance Channel. His follow-up, The Ashram, starred Academy Award Winner Melissa Leo and Kal Penn. Rekhi then shifted gears and co-directed a documentary series for PBS called The Hidden Vote which profiled minorities who support Trump. His third film Watch List, set against the drug wars in the Philippines, was co-financed by Bron Studios (Joker), executive produced by XYZ Films (The Raid). The Reunited States, his documentary debut, is executive produced by Van Jones and Meghan McCain and released February 2021.

Donna Neuwirth

Donna Neuwirth

Executive Director of Wormfarm Institute

Donna Neuwirth is co-founder and Executive Director of Wormfarm Institute whose mission is to integrate culture and agriculture across the rural/urban continuum. After many years in art and theater in Chicago, Neuwirth and co-founder Jay Salinas moved to a small farm in Wisconsin. Seduced by the life in the soil and struck by the parallels in the process between farming and art-making, they formed the Wormfarm in 2000 and began an Artist Residency program. A self-described impresario with a BFA from The School of Art Institute of Chicago, Donna has led numerous projects inspired by and centered at the fertile intersection of culture and agriculture including Wormfarm’s biennial Farm/Art DTour.

Joe Davis Headshot

Joe Davis

Multidisciplinary Artist & Founder of The New Renaissance

Joe Davis is a nationally-touring artist, educator, and speaker based in Minneapolis, MN. He employs poetry, music, theater, and dance to shape culture. His work has been featured on BET, CNN, and VH1. He is the Founder and Director of multimedia production company, The New Renaissance, the frontman of emerging soul funk band, The Poetic Diaspora, and co-creator of JUSTmove, racial justice education through art. He has keynoted, facilitated conversation, and served as teaching artist at hundreds of high schools and universities including programs in New York, Boston, and most recently as the Artist-in-Residence at Luther Seminary where he earned a Masters in Theology of the Arts.

John Noltner Headshot

John Noltner

Photographer & Founder of A Peace of My Mind

John Noltner uses portraits and personal stories to bridge divides and encourage dialogue around important issues. He has worked on four continents, producing projects for national magazines, Fortune 500 companies, and non-profit organizations. John created the multimedia art project A Peace of My Mind which reflects his belief that art and storytelling can help individuals, organizations and communities articulate their deepest values and encourage action toward building social capital and community connections. Through exhibits, workshops, lectures, on-site studios, and distance learning, A Peace of My Mind leads transformative experiences that help a polarized world rediscover the common humanity that connects us.