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 UofT Arts Council Speakers in the Arts 2011 Series: David Henry Hwang, Joe Sacco and Ken Jacobs

The University of Toronto Arts Council launches its new Speakers in the Arts Series this year. The Series – scheduled to run as a pilot project for the next three years – will bring leaders in the arts to our campuses, including outstanding writers, performers and visual artists. On the roster for the inaugural 2011 Series are David Henry Hwang, Joe Sacco and Ken Jacobs.

The Speakers in the Arts Series aims to highlight the University of Toronto’s deep engagement with the arts, and the role that UofT plays in downtown Toronto, Scarborough and Mississauga with its impressive community of artistically-engaged students. The Series also aims to extend these opportunities to the community beyond the University and to deepen the ties between the University and the larger arts community.

“The University of Toronto has a vibrant community of arts-oriented students,” said Jill Matus, Vice-Provost, Students and Chair of the Arts Council. “The Speakers in the Arts Series is a way of exposing our students to the work of world-class practitioners in the arts and enhancing their university experience by encouraging engagement with the arts on campus, regardless of their field of study.” Each speaker will visit at least two campuses of the University of Toronto, conduct a seminar or master class for students and hold a large public lecture.

The first speaker, David Henry Hwang, is a Tony Award winning playwright, screenwriter and librettist, best known as the author of M. Butterfly and Yellow Face. One of the most influential Asian-American artists currently working in North America, his work frequently addresses notions of identity, race and modern multiculturalism. Hwang will be on the St. George campus at the same time that Hart House Theatre presents Yellow Face (engagement runs March 4-12). On Tuesday, March 8th at 7pm at Hart House Theatre the University of Toronto Arts Council will present a Conversation with David Henry Hwang. David Yee, Artistic Director of Fu-gen Theatre Company will engage Hwang in a lively dialogue exploring his work, life and philosophies. The following night Hwang will join the cast and director of Yellow Face for a post-performance Q & A session with the audience. His appearance at U of T is presented in partnership with the Arts Council, Hart House and Fu-gen Theatre Company.

Joe Sacco, the second speaker in the series, is one of the world’s premier comic book artists and is widely recognized as a central figure in bringing graphic novels and sequential art into the cultural mainstream. Sacco’s work is frequently featured on university syllabi, in programs ranging from English to Political Science to Peace and Conflict Studies. A Guggenheim fellow, Sacco’s work has been profiled by the BBC, Time Magazine and the New York Times. Trained as a journalist, his storytelling takes the form of “comics journalism” and includes such lauded works as Palestine and Safe Area. Sacco will be speaking on March 17th at Innis Town Hall.

Ken Jacobs is one of the most influential visual artists of the past fifty years, whose work has been the subject of major retrospectives at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Museum of the Moving Image and the Getty Museum. Jacobs is largely known as an avant-garde filmmaker, though he now produces digital, three dimensional abstract works. Jacobs is also a passionate lecturer and teacher who believes in the social necessity of abstraction and the potential of human artistic vision. He will be performing and speaking at the University of Toronto Mississauga in the fall.

For tickets to the Speakers in the Arts Series, please contact UofTtix at, and for more information on the Series, as well as other initiatives of the UofT Arts Council, please visit