The Encampment is proud to announce that Jane Sapp, internationally-known singer, songwriter, cultural worker and educator, has been hired as the 2014 Summer Program Director. Her work focuses on the cultural dimensions of community organizing and social justice work.  Jane has worked at the Highlander Center and she was a Mel King Fellow at the Center for Reflective Community Practice at MIT.

Cultural work uses insights and practices from the arts. Because the arts can move within our spirit and our soul, transformative experiences are more possible…and transformation is at the root of social change. A story, a song, for example, can deepen our understanding and move us to action in ways that words cannot.
—Jane Sapp

Photo by Ellen Augarten 

Jane Sapp is a cultural worker who engages with disenfranchised urban and rural communities in the United States. She is a powerful, highly-regarded performer, song-writer, recording artist, and educator. Her music reflects the blues and gospel sounds of her Georgia youth and is deeply rooted in the spiritual, religious and historical experiences of the African-American world.

She has recorded four albums, and her performances have been featured in concert halls (including Carnegie Hall with Pete Seeger), colleges, and community centers throughout the U.S. and in Sweden, Canada, Senegal, and Mali, West Africa. She was a Senior Fellow at MIT’s Center for Reflective Community Practice. As an educator, Jane Sapp has developed techniques to help the silenced find their voices through the arts. Her community-based cultural development programs have been the subject of an hour-long documentary “Someone Sang for Me” by Julie Akeret (Filmmakers Library 2002) and three scholarly studies. She has lectured and performed extensively at colleges, conferences, and community gatherings.

At the Encampment summer program, Jane will oversee the integration of arts into the curriculum and lead a song writing workshop focusing on articulating the concerns the young people bring to the program. Jane’s popular songwriting workshop in 2013 produced the group song “Looking”. Click here for film clip about the process of creating that song. Together, Jane and the other staff, will integrate the arts into the overall program and help Encampers to develop a social and individual consciousness through the artistic pathway that is most organic to them.

Encampers will choose a social justice project related to the social issue that resonates most with them and the community they come from. They will all leave the summer program with finished creative projects- a song, a book of poetry, etc., that will aid them in the implementation of their projects and as a way to share their Encampment experience.

Core staff will follow up with the Encampers to help with the implementation of their projects and to help them to connect with local arts and organizations that have a social justice focus. Through the Encampment regional alumni groups there will be opportunities for youth to share their Encampment experience and garner additional support for implementing their projects.

Another critical function of the tools of art and culture is the ability to connect. Through our culture and creative expressions, we are connected to our own humanity and reminded of the humanity of others. By infusing our work with the practices of cultural work, (stories, song, dance, ritual, spoken word…we create movements, institutions and communities where our knowledge, strategies, values, spirit and humanity can thrive.
—Jane Sapp