The essential integration of arts, advocacy, and community life, with Rebecca Kelly-Golfman

“The idea that the arts need to be something separate from your socially engaged life, or your community-based life, its really been created by institutions and it isn’t true. Every community… has been using the arts and creativity to thrive, since forever.”

Rebecca Kelly-Golfman is a facilitator, entrepreneur, theatre artist, and activist. She has spent her entire career figuring out how to integrate the arts and advocacy/activism work, and helping others to learn how to do this too. Rebecca is a true Renaissance Soul/Multi-potentialite, cobbling together a variety of different activities to build a life and career that really feeds her soul.

Amongst her various activities, Rebecca is the Founder of Black Abundance BK, a platform celebrating Black life in Brooklyn through uplifting Black businesses, creators, activists, and community members. As an Adjunct Professor at Wagner College, she was awarded The Diversity and International Action Council Award for Diversity and Inclusion for her course Race, the Arts, and Activism.  She also devises plays with anti-gun violence youth organizers in Crown Heights through Theatre of the Oppressed NYC. Additionally, Rebecca is a former civil rights attorney where she focused on dismantling the school-to-prison pipeline as Associate Counsel with The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law in Washington DC. She was recently selected as part of the 2018 Create Change Fellow cohort with The Laundromat Project, and is co-creating a socially engaged art project in Brooklyn with STooPS Bed-Stuy.


You can learn more about Rebecca’s work at and and follow her on Instagram at @rebeccakelly_g and @blackabundancebk.


Some themes from our conversation:

  • Learning to accept various artist identities outside of a formalized/externally recognized space
  • Getting self judgement out of the way
  • The natural synergy of arts and activism
  • A (very) brief history of the arts being used as a form of rebellion/resistance by African people enslaved in the US

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