The Ithaca Department of Arts and Futures: Strengthening the Ecological Narrative Onstage

How can theater fight against climate change? Such is the question that PMA artist-scholars Andy Colpitts and Kelly Richmond aim to address through their upcoming performance action, "The Ithaca Department of Arts and Futures: A Coalition and Celebration for the World to Come".

The Ithaca Department of Arts and Futures is inspired by's A Press Conference from the Future, which delivers a moving performance in which a fictional future coalition government recounts for the public the radical policy shifts that have led to effective environmental action. Similarly, Colpitts and Richmond aspire to tell an unimaginable yet sentimental ecological narrative: one that illustrates a world in which the creative mindset demonstrates its power in the face of environmental challenges.

“While we do want to emphasize the forward-looking nature of this event, it is also a moment for celebrating the work that is already being done in the community to create ecologically minded performance,” explained Colpitts. “In this sense, it's about looking backwards and forwards to understand what is needed to entwine those in the performing arts with those most intimately tied to environmental action.”

To achieve the two-way vision, the event is divided into two parts. In the morning, participants will gather at the Schwartz Center for the Performing Arts to tune in on presentations from guest speakers on how artistic projects and communities are already shifting our ecological culture – a warm up and a reminder that there is potential for a positive future.

Following the guest speaker presentations, participants will gather at the Soil Factory for an interactive performance action and celebratory dance party featuring a local band, Motherwort. During this half of the event, a Long Table will be hosted to fuel creative and collaborative thinking among the audience.

“The main message of The Ithaca Department of Arts and Futures is that in order to respond to environmental calls to shift our culture we need space and time to gather, imagine, rehearse, and play joyfully,” said Richmond. “We aim to create a day not of doom and gloom, but of fantastical dreaming and deep community connections.”

The event is free and open to the public, and will take place on Saturday, October 14, between 10:00 a.m and 8:30 p.m. Morning presentations will be delivered at the Film Forum of the Schwartz Center for the Performing Arts (430 College Ave), while afternoon arrangements will be directed at the Soil Factory (142 Ithaca Beer Dr.).

RSVP is recommended, but walk-in is also welcome. 

This event is co-sponsored by the Department of Performing and Media Arts, Media Studies, Rural Humanities, Cornell Council for the Art, Feminist, Gender, & Sexuality Studies and Einhorn Center for Community Engagement.

Listen to a PMA Podcast "Episode 47 - The Ithaca Department of Arts and Futures."

IDAF Event Schedule

10:00 a.m. - 11:00 a.m.: Keynote Address from Ian Garrett

11:00 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.: Presentations from Invited Guests 

12:30 p.m. - 1:00 p.m.: Refreshments

3:00 p.m. - 3:45 p.m.: Travel to the Soil Factory (Shuttle Available for those in need)

4:00 p.m. - 5:30 p.m.: Long Table Discussion

5:30 p.m. - 7:00 p.m.: Dinner

7:00 p.m. - 8:30 p.m.: Wild Dance Party with a live performance by Motherwort


Erin Yoon '26 is a communications assistant in the Department of Performing and Media Arts.

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Ithaca Department of Arts and Futures Poster