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Todd Lester

Todd Lester

Lanchonete is a time and site-specific artist residency & human mobility project, with an underlying focus on alternative economies, currencies and exchange. It is a constructive critique of the growing /vague-ing residency sector; a contemplation on gentrification as a way of life, one that is related to globalization, commodification, and the idea of brazilianification, a term used to describe process in which the middle class disappears, and the gulf between the upper and lower classes widens; an observatory on artist mobility’s relation to human mobility (and vice versa); station of witness and workplace … the panopticon remixed.  Lanchonete is a five-year project with the second half of that period being a site-specific inhabitation of a typical lanchonete in Sao Paulo, Brazil. In the mean time, the evolving concept will take the form of itinerant Feijoada (or Saturday lunch) and manifest as a discussion on the economy periodically at various art events, cultural gatherings and key moments, on average one Saturday a quarter for the next three years.  (http://www.lanchonete.org/)

Todd Lester is currently the Executive Director of Global Arts Corps, an organization that creates theatre to advance reconciliation in societies emerging from violent conflict. Previously, he founded freeDimensional, an organization that supports activists and artists-in-distress by providing safe haven in artist residencies. Todd has worked in advocacy and strategic communications positions with Reporters sans frontiers and the Astraea Lesbian Justice Foundation, both in New York, and the International Rescue Committee in Sudan during the height of the Darfur crisis and signing of the country’s North-South Peace Accords. He has dedicated periods of his career to work on microfinance in Cameroon, refugee rights in Egypt, post-genocide reconciliation in Rwanda, cross- border municipal leadership in the Southern Caucasus, and prevention of youth violence in Brazil, working with grassroots organizations and a range of agencies, including CARE, Carter Center, Peace Corps, Population Services International, Dutch Refugee Council, and the United Nations. Todd holds a Masters of Public Administration from Rutgers University and is a graduate of the Summer School in Forced Migration at Oxford University and Media Studies in Film Production at the New School. Todd received the Peace Corps Fund Award for his work starting freeDimensional; was named Architect of the Future by the Waldzell Institute; and serves as a Senior Fellow at the World Policy Institute focused on the role of arts in public policy-setting and freedom of expression.

(update 2013-01-29)