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Raising Awareness of Human Trafficking in WNY

Updated: Aug 1, 2020

The Rockefeller Institute of Government/Buffalo Project collaborate with Community Leaders and Artists in Live Production to raise Awareness on Human Trafficking

“Typography of Women: I am not invisible” will feature artistic contributions from real-life human trafficking victims, WNY visual and performance artists and a public discussion with panel experts, culminating at the Burchfield Penney Art Center.

By: Nay Farber; February 13, 2020

Buffalo, N.Y. Human trafficking, also known as “trafficking of persons” and “modern slavery”, involves forcefully transporting and exploiting women, men, and children. Although many cases of this heinous crime go undetected, it is estimated that there are about 20 to 40 million people being exploited in the world today, out of which, about 71% are women and girls.

In Western New York, the number of trafficked women and girls are on the rise and although there are efforts being made from local authorities to prevent this crime from occurring, community leaders and human rights advocates are coming together as well to inform the population and facilitate healing for the victims.

Local artist Ms. Celeste Lawson, has been involved in the cultural arts and service community in many creative and leadership capacities for over 40 years. She has recently created, produced, written and co-directed “Typography of Women: I am Not Invisible”, a four-part project that includes a live stage performance of music, dance and poetry, a public discussion, and forum facilitated by a panel of subject matter experts and two art exhibits depicting the journey from trafficking to freedom, for which she was awarded a grant from the MAP Fund (Multi-Arts Arts Performance Fund based in NYC).

The stage performance takes place on Saturday, March 21, 2020, in Rockwell Hall Performing Arts Center, the public forum on Sunday, March 22, 2020, in the Burchfield Penny Museum and the art exhibits are being hosted by WNED TV in their Horizons Community Art Gallery located in their Horizons Plaza location; and CEPA Gallery in their market arcade Underground Gallery. The WNED exhibit opens on Thursday, March 5 and run until March 27th and WNED is hosting the opening reception, and CEPA opens on Friday, March 6, and runs through April 4th.

Update: General admission to the live musical theater is $40 and tickets are available at the Rockwell Hall Box Office, 1300 Elmwood Avenue, Buffalo, NY, by phone at 716. 878-3005 and online HERE.

“‘Typography’ presents the courage of the victims as they overcome a cruel and demeaning past and their quest to heal and feel valued as ‘human’ once again” -said, Ms. Lawson, whose creative efforts with “Typography” will benefit Project Mona’s House, a Buffalo-based transitional residence for women who have escaped trafficking and and the only one of such facilities in Western New York. Project Mona’s House is designed to help women 18 and older who have been victims of any type of human trafficking through a 12-month program. They are currently working to raise funding for more beds to help more women.

The Rockefeller Institute of Government-Center for Law and Policy Solutions/Buffalo Project team, led by Dr. Rhianna C. Rogers is proud to support and join the group of artists, activists, community leaders, scholars and supporting organizations that have come together in this event to stand against modern slavery. Dr. Rogers stated "engaging with the WNY community is a crucial part of the Buffalo Project’s mission. Joining forces with important community leaders and NGOs around the topic of human trafficking is a great way to help bring awareness to this issue in our community."

“Typography” will convey the experiences of trafficking survivors by presenting original works written or visually created by survivor/overcomers and interpreted by local professional artists through music, poetry, and dance who have also survived/overcome significant life challenges, powerful enough to give them empathy and deep compassion for Mona’s House clients.

All involved in this production aim to make a call-to-action and a wake-up call to citizens of the Western New York region on the reality, effects, and battle against human trafficking.

Are you being trafficked? Call 911

Know someone being trafficked? Call National Human Trafficking Hotline 1 (888) 373-7888

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