The Bay Area is home to one of the world’s largest and most dynamic transgender communities. 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 transgender artists developing their work – but without any organizational support.
Driven by the rapidly-growing transgender community, the inspiring emergence of transgender artists, and the multiple barriers that made it difficult or impossible for transgender artists to create and stage original work, transgender choreographer Sean Dorsey founded Fresh Meat Productions in 2002.
Fresh Meat Productions was founded to provide a professional venue for transgender artists, empower transgender artists and audiences, expand the repertoire of original work authentically exploring transgender experiences, bring visibility to trans communities, connect transgender artists with diverse audiences, promote the artistic development of emerging and established transgender artists, and create new dialogue and build community.
Fresh Meat worked to overcome the many barriers facing transgender artists: limited organizational infrastructure serving the transgender community; the lack of professional performing opportunities; censorship by public arts funding agencies and foundations; and the absence of affordable professional venues and of individual and community donors.
Our first event — the 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 LGBTQ audiences, who made clear the community’s hunger for authentic and positive transgender artistic expression. 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 into a year-round arts organization that could nurture the burgeoning transgender arts community, provide mentorship and leadership and build a transgender artist movement.
Fresh Meat Productions was born and grew to include: the annual Fresh Meat Festival; resident dance company (Sean Dorsey Dance) that stages the Artistic Director Sean Dorsey’s award-winning choreography locally and on tour; statewide and national LGBT Community Engagement Residencies; an Arts Services Program and other community events.
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.