Thursday, Feb. 17, 2022 at 3:30 p.m.
In-person at the Blacksburg Public Library or via Zoom

The School of Performing Arts at Virginia Tech presents “Art, Community, and Social Health,” a series of talks by nationally recognized artists and thought leaders on the power and practice of art and culture as essential elements of healthy communities.

These public presentations are meant to lead to open dialogue on the practical values of art as a core element for building strong communities.  These will be hybrid events. Guest speakers will be on Zoom. Audiences can gather either on Zoom or in person at the Blacksburg Public Library.

Mark Valdez is a director, writer, and cultural organizer who partners with communities, organizations, civic institutions, and others, using theater and creative tools to address community needs and to lift up community voices and stories.

His work has been seen at community venues and professional theaters across California, from a tomato field in Grayson to a de-commissioned Catholic cathedral in downtown LA; from the stages in La Pena Cultural Center in Berkeley to the stages of the Ricardo Montalban Theater/CTG in Hollywood. Nationally, Mark has worked at theaters such as the Alliance Theater in Atlanta where he created A Road to a Dream, a community collaboration along a 10-mile stretch of the Buford Highway, to shed light on the toll our nation’s broken immigration policies have on families and communities; Arizona’s Childsplay Theater where he adapted and directed Gary Soto’s book, Chapto’s Kitchen, about a low-rider gato from East LA; and Trinity Rep in Providence, where he directed A Christmas Carol to include 85 community choirs. His play Highland Park is Here won the Audience Award at the Highland Park Film Festival and will be featured in the Re:Encuentro, the national Latina/o/x Theater Festival.

Valdez is the recipient of various grants and awards, including a Legacy Artist Fellowship from the California Arts Council, a Princess Grace Award, and the 2019 Johnson Fellowship for the Artists Transforming Communities. He is a current board member of Double Edge Theatre and Cornerstone Theater Company, and a former board member of TCG.

Presently, Valdez is working on The Most Beautiful Home… Maybe, a multi-city project that aims to influence housing policy utilizing performance, cultural organizing, and creative community development strategies.