Exploring income inequality and the wage gap through community conversations

by | Sep 13, 2022

Story and photos by Kiley Schwehr Riffell

Neighbors gathered in community this weekend to explore the topics of income inequality and the wage gap through free interactive events at the Phinney Neighborhood Center. It was a weekend packed with art making and connection and there are still plenty of opportunities to take part. 

Last Friday, Mirror Stage hosted an art making party where people of all ages created works inspired by prompts about the impacts of income inequality, then hung them on the gallery walls for the community to enjoy. You still have a chance to add your art to the PNA gallery. There is a table full of art supplies on the top floor of the PNA Blue Building. Art will be displayed through September 23.

Friday night ended with an all-access yoga class taught by Mirror Stage Associate Artistic Director Marquicia (QuiQui) Dominguez. The class was filled with moments of self-reflection on the topics of gratitude and the true meanings of wealth and abundance.

The weekend wrapped up with the annual Mirror Stage Activism Brunch featuring an eye-opening discussion with University of Washington professor and economics expert, S. Charusheela. The complete discussion is available to watch on the Mirror Stage YouTube channel.

Two New Plays

The brunch also included a sneak peek of October’s Expand Upon: Income Inequality and the Wage Gap, featuring two newly-commissioned plays by Nelle Tankus and Mary Fields. Mirror Stage Managing Artistic Director Suzanne M. Cohen says the new plays explore, “the wide-ranging impact, and offer a glimpse into what role we each play in supporting and maintaining the status quo, and the detrimental effects on us all.” The plays will be performed live online on October 15, 16, 22, and 23. Each showing will be followed by an online group discussion. It will be a unique experience for the playwrights and actors to hear directly from the audience. 

A Top Concern

According the to the PNA, income inequality is one of the top concerns of people living in Northwest Seattle. Over the summer, the PNA wrapped up a community survey done in partnership with local architectural design firm Mithun. Of the top five concerns listed by those surveyed, four were related to financial problems. They included housing stability, improving food access and cost, access to affordable healthcare, and increasing employment and living wages.

A New Collaboration

The growing partnership between Mirror Stage and the Phinney Neighborhood Center has allowed the non-profit theater company to expand its definition of storytelling. Cohen says exploring new and different ways that storytelling can engage and inform through the arts- whether visual, performing or participatory- is in an important part of fulfilling the company’s mission of encouraging more thoughtful reflection on today’s issues. 

Mirror Stage is a nonprofit arts organization that uses the power of storytelling to challenge assumptions, bias, and prejudice, increasing equity and inclusion while encouraging more thoughtful reflection on today’s issues. With the goal of increasing empathy and social justice, Mirror Stage connects people more deeply to perspectives and experiences other than their own while amplifying historically excluded stories, voices, and faces- bringing us to a place of common understanding. Mirror Stage is theatre that gets people talking, as well as thinking.

To learn more about the upcoming events, sign up for the Mirror Stage E-News.

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