Senator José M. Serrano and Oskar Eustis, in conversation with Pato Hebert

This discussion will explore how the arts can continue to serve as agents of recovery and change as we rebuild our society after a year of plague, political polarization, protests and public acknowledgements of racism and police violence.

In this profoundly challenging moment, what role will the arts play in dismantling structures of inequity and reinvigorating democratic values?

Artists have long helped us to create and sustain community, while pushing us to reimagine society. Artists critically and creatively engage with the socio-political developments of our time. As the pandemic stretches into its second year, how might the arts help us to rethink concepts of freedom, equality and social transformation?

Cultural institutions have the potential to be venues for public engagement. How do we think about the future of gathering, after the crucibles of pandemic and protest? How do we help our cultural institutions emerge from a year of closure, adaptation and financial crisis? What changes necessitated by the pandemic may become permanent features of our cultural horizon?

This event is part of APP’s Art & Its Publics program series, developed in partnership with NYU Skirball with generous support from Tisch’s Institute of Performing Arts and The 370J Project.



Oskar Eustis is the Artistic Director of The Public Theater and has worked as a director, dramaturg, and artistic director for theaters around the country. Throughout his career, Eustis has been dedicated to the development of new plays as both a director and a producer. His directing credits include world premieres of plays by Philip Kan Gotanda, David Henry Hwang, Emily Mann, Suzan-Lori Parks, Ellen McLaughlin, and Eduardo Machado. He commissioned Tony Kushner’s Angels in America at the Eureka Theatre Company in San Francisco and directed its world premiere at the Mark Taper Forum. Eustis was the lead producer on the Tony Award-winning revival of Hair as well as the acclaimed production of The Merchant of Venice. In addition to NYU, Mr. Eustis has taught at UCLA and Brown University.

New York State Senator José M. Serrano, a lifelong South Bronx resident, was elected to the New York State Senate in November of 2004. He serves as the Chair of the Senate Majority Conference and as Chair of the Committee on Cultural Affairs, Tourism, Parks and Recreation. His other committee assignments include: Aging, Education, Higher Education, and Environmental Conservation. In Albany, Senator Serrano has introduced a wide variety of bills championing the arts, keeping housing affordable, protecting public health, fostering economic development, defending immigrant rights, closing the income inequality gap and preserving the environment.

Pato Hebert is an artist, teacher and organizer. His work explores the aesthetics, ethics and poetics of interconnectedness. His creative projects have been presented at Beton7 in Athens, the Centro de Arte Contemporáneo in Quito, the Ballarat International Foto Biennale, the Songzhuang International Photo Biennale, and IHLIA LGBT Heritage in Amsterdam. He teaches as an Associate Arts Professor and serves as Chair in the Department of Art & Public Policy at Tisch School of the Arts, New York University. He has also worked in HIV prevention initiatives with queer communities of color since 1994. He is a COVID-19 long hauler, living with the impacts of the coronavirus and publicly addressing the pandemic since March of 2020.