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We the Many

Seeking to expand the understanding of what it means to be a Midwesterner through the creative exchange of voices, cultures, and ideas.

How do we do this?

We the Many works with communities to create performing arts residencies. In its pilot phase in 2020, the program will connect immigrant, refugee, Indigenous, or African-American artists to three rural Midwestern communities. All residency activities are created in partnership with community members, seek to leverage existing assets, and emphasize connecting to neighboring communities.

The design of each residency is unique to the community and will be guided in part by a cultural advisor identified by Arts Midwest and the participating communities. Activities may include in-person or virtual visits by the artists that invite and share personal stories.

Community Partners

Three organizations were selected by Arts Midwest, in partnership with the Indiana Arts Commission, Iowa Arts Council, and South Dakota Arts Council, to participate in the pilot phase.

Art on the Prairie in Perry, IA (population 7,700)
Art on the Prairie is a nonprofit organization that brings together artists, entrepreneurs, and community members through arts programming. After a population decline in the 1990s, Perry, IA has experienced a population resurgence due in part to an influx of Latinx residents, who now make up over forty percent of the town’s population.

Sisseton Arts Council in Sisseton, SD (population 2,500)
Sisseton Art Council’s mission is to build an appreciation and awareness of the arts by recognizing resources and promoting cultural enrichment. The town of Sisseton, SD is located on the Lake Traverse Indian Reservation, which is home to the Sisseton Wahpeton Dakota Indian tribe. Today, approximately half of the population of Sisseton is Native American. The small but diverse community has city, county, and tribal governments with a tribal college.

The Honeywell Foundation in Wabash, IN (population 10,600)
The Honeywell Foundation is an organization dedicated to enhancing the livability of the region through world-class performing arts programming across multiple communities. The area was first home to the Miami Nation of Indians. Today, Native American residents and people of color comprise approximately five percent of the population of Wabash County.

Community Promise

Arts Midwest provides significant financial and programmatic support to our community partners, including:

  • A $45,000 grant for residency planning and implementation.
  • Performing artist fees and related travel, lodging, and per diem paid by Arts Midwest.
  • An advisor for curatorial and cultural guidance in the selection of the artists.
  • Attendance at the Arts Midwest Conference in Minneapolis (September 4-7, 2019) for partners, artists, and advisors, including a special We the Many pre-conference workshop on September 4.
  • Site visits from Arts Midwest staff to assist with onboarding, artist selection, residency planning, and final reflection.
  • Training and technical assistance from Arts Midwest’s Creating Connection team and other partners.

Selected Artists

Alex Barreto Hathaway will be working with the Sisseton Arts Council in Sisseton, South Dakota (Population 2,500), along with the communities of Veblen (population 558) and Agency Village (population 181). Alex is a process-based artist and educator that leans into playfulness, clown, mask and physical theatre, clown again, stories that celebrate the Latinx experience, and projects that partner with non-theatre groups. He earned his BA in Theatre Arts at the University of Minnesota with a thesis project exhibiting Mask, Puppetry, and Street Theatre practices studied in Pernambuco, Brazil. Beyond theatre, Barreto Hathaway makes illustrations, writes tri-lingual folk songs, hosts artist “salons” for new work, and sustains an ongoing project that serves artists, farmers and grass-roots organizers in Puerto Rico, where he is originally from.

Erik Dominguez will be working with Art on the Prairie in Perry, Iowa (Population 7,700). Erik is an immigrant who grew up between two cultures and mixed messages, which fueled him to learn and share the tools to overcome those obstacles. For nearly 25 years, his team-oriented teaching style has centered around shared experiences, a philosophy that everyone has a unique story, and a belief that everyone can share their minds and hearts through powerful presentations.

Ana Velazquez will be working with The Honeywell Foundation in Wabash, Indiana (Population 10,600). Ana is a Mexican American director and teaching artist in her native Chicago. Her directing experience is deeply tied to new play development and is often in collaboration with playwrights exploring underrepresented stories. Ana received her BA in Theatre from the University of Illinois at Chicago. She is a Playmakers Laboratory company member. Her teaching artist experience includes Disney Musicals in Schools and Playbuild Youth Intensive Program with Goodman Theatre; Timeline South Living History Program with Timeline Theatre and Young Playwrights Festival with Pegasus Theatre. She proudly served as the Associate Director for the Chicago August Wilson Monologue Competition.


Christy Dickinson, senior program director, 612.238.8019
Michael Johnson, community engagement manager, 612.238.8063


We the Many is a project of Arts Midwest with generous support from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and in partnership with the Indiana Arts Commission, Iowa Arts Council, and South Dakota Arts Council.