Fresh Meat Productions was founded by artists and activists who understand the power of the arts to transform culture, heal trauma, build community, forge solidarity and create trans/gender, racial, disability, immigrant, economic and social justice.
The Bay Area is home to one of the world’s largest and most dynamic transgender and gender-nonconforming (GNC) communities. Our founding members recall that as our community grew significantly in size in the 1990’s, so too did our community’s hunger to see ourselves reflected in art and culture. We began to see more out trans and GNC artists developing their work – but without any organizational or institutional support.
Driven by the rapidly-growing trans and gender-nonconforming community, the inspiring emergence of transgender artists, and the multiple barriers that made it difficult or impossible for trans and gender-nonconforming artists to create and stage original work, transgender choreographer Sean Dorsey founded Fresh Meat Productions in 2002.
Fresh Meat Productions was founded to invest in the creative expression and cultural leadership of trans and gender-nonconforming communities. We came together to provide well-paid and professional performing opportunities for transgender artists, empower trans/gender-nonconforming/queer artists and audiences, expand the repertoire of original work authentically exploring trans experience, bring visibility to trans communities, connect transgender artists with diverse audiences, promote the artistic development of emerging and established transgender artists, create new dialogue and build community.
Fresh Meat worked to overcome the many barriers facing transgender and gender-nonconforming artists: limited organizational infrastructure serving the transgender community; lack of professional performing opportunities; lack of access to supportive and trans-positive professional arts training and education; censorship by media, public arts funding agencies and foundations; and the absence of affordable professional venues and of individual and community donors.
Our first event — the 2002 FRESH MEAT FESTIVAL of transgender and queer performance at ODC Theater in June 2002 — was praised as “outstanding, joyful, irreverent” (Critical Dance) and “history in the making” (Bay Area Reporter). Even more important than the positive critical reception was the overwhelming enthusiasm of our sold-to-capacity trans, gender-nonconforming and LGBTQ audiences, who made clear our community’s hunger for authentic and positive transgender artistic expression and leadership. Never before had audiences had the opportunity to see transgender lives reflected onstage so powerfully and at such a scale – the event was heralded as inspiring, transformative and healing.
This tremendous community response led us to expand Fresh Meat Productions into a year-round arts organization that could invest in and nurture the burgeoning transgender arts community, provide mentorship, training and leadership, and build a transgender artist movement.
Fresh Meat Productions was born and grew to include our award-winning year-round programs:
THE CREATION AND PERFORMANCE OF NEW WORK:
– SEAN DORSEY DANCE: our resident dance company SDD creates, performs and tours original works by Artistic Director Sean Dorsey, and leads trans/LGBTQ community engagement residencies.
– FRESH WORKS! awards commissions to support the creation of new work by transgender, gender-nonconforming and queer artists of color; we present these new works at our FRESH MEAT FESTIVAL.
PERFORMING ARTS PROGRAMS & EVENTS:
– FRESH MEAT FESTIVAL: our FRESH MEAT FESTIVAL of trans and queer performance is an annual 3-day festival that centers transgender, gender-nonconforming and queer artists of color.
– COMMUNITY TRANS ARTS EVENTS: we co-sponsor and support transgender and gender-nonconforming community-based arts events.
COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT AND EDUCATION:
Our Community Engagement and Education Program is the only program of its kind in the nation. To date, we have conducted this program throughout the Bay Area and in 35 cities across the US. We offer trans-supportive dance classes; “Dance Your Story” workshops that give trans and LGBTQ people creative tools to tell their OWN story; conduct Sean Dorsey Dance master classes, guest teaching and in-school residencies; lead LGBTQ community forums; and engage in national and international speaking engagements, panels, lec-dems and keynotes.
Our national advocacy program TRANSform Dance provides resources, education and leadership development in order to identify and remove systemic barriers, increase transgender and gender-nonconforming participation and leadership, and advance trans equity in Dance.
Since 2002, Fresh Meat Productions has rapidly grown from a single event into the largest transgender arts organization in the US — a multi-disciplinary arts organization presenting year-round programs. We are the first and only organization of our kind in the nation. This year our programs will reach over 15,000 people.