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A Seat At The Table

A Conversation About Cultural Equity In The Arts

In an intentional effort to elevate cultural equity, diversity, and inclusion in our arts and culture community, the Des Moines Arts Festival® hosts a quarterly online opportunity to showcase how you can find your “Seat at the Table". Each conversation will include a panel of community partners sharing how they've been working towards cultural equity and how we, as a community, can collaborate to elevate the arts. Facilitated by Kate Hightshoe.

In celebration of Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, our May conversation included topics of positive/negative stereotypes, the "model minority" and breaking the "bamboo ceiling." Thank you for all who participated. Click here to view the recording on our You Tube channel.

Next conversation will be August, 2021, date TBD!

Questions? Please reach out to Daphne at ddickens@desmoinesartsfestival.org

Clarence Padilla is a Professor of Music (clarinet) at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa, and served as Music Department Chair from 2004 to 2018. Professor Padilla has concertized, conducted and presented master classes across the United States in Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, California, Tennessee, Illinois, Wisconsin, Nevada, Michigan, Ohio, Kansas, Arizona and the District of Columbia. International performances and teaching presentations have been given in Italy (2018/2019), Ecuador (2017), Brazil (2014), France (2011/2017/2019), China (2009/2013/2016), Mexico (2005/2007), and Germany and Austria (1993/2019).

Clarence has been a regular member of the Des Moines Symphony since 2000, appeared as a clarinet soloist with the orchestra in 2013, and served as the Acting Principal Clarinet for the 2010-11 Concert Season. Mr. Padilla has performed with a highly varied group of artists, including Yo-Yo Ma, Itzhak Perlman, Joshua Bell, Sarah Chang, Midori, Ray Charles, Leslie Odom, Jr., Kristin Chenoweth, Marilyn McCoo, Amy Grant, Celtic Thunder, Sutton Foster, Simon Estes, The Manhattan Transfer, Roger Williams, Patrick Stewart, Lee Greenwood, and conductors Michael Tilson Thomas, Gerard Schwarz, JoAnn Falletta, Bright Sheng and Lukas Foss. He has also recorded for the Disney Company Entertainment Division and Touchstone Pictures.

He holds a Bachelor of Music Degree from California State University, Long Beach, a Master of Music Degree in clarinet performance from the University of Southern California and has pursued doctoral studies in clarinet performance at USC where he was a student of Mitchell Lurie and David Shifrin.Mr. Padilla has also studied with Robert Marcellus, David Atkins, Thomas Hill, James Kanter and Virginia Wright. He holds professional memberships in Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia, Pi Kappa Lambda, and an honorary membership to Mu Phi Epsilon.

Christine Her is the Executive Director of Art Force Iowa. She is the daughter of Hmong refugee parents from Laos. She graduated from East High School and pursued her B.A. at Drake University majoring in Creative Writing, Philosophy and Political Science. She is highly motivated to interrupt social and systemic injustices with hope and opportunity while helping others rise in their own power and lean into their purpose.
Pragnya Yogesh was born and raised in India. She moved to Iowa in 2006 with her husband for his job. She has a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science and an MBA. In addition to working as a Cultural Ambassador for CultureALL, she has an Indian dance academy. Ms. Yogesh, a rank holder in dance for the state of Karnataka, South India, has many passions and hobbies like painting and traveling to different countries. She lives in Johnston with her husband and two boys and loves dogs and elephants. She also travels to various places spreading the divine art of dance. Her workshops portray various forms of dances from across India, which gives an experience and knowledge about the cultural aspect of the traditional dances like Bharatanatyam and Kuchipudi and folk dances such as Garba, Dhandiya Raas. and Bollywood dances.

Kate Hightshoe has a proven track record in implementing cultural change management strategies at all organization levels – organizational compliance and enterprise risk management and mitigation - and community building, development, and engagement. Her areas of expertise include the strategic building of highly functioning teams and partnerships designed to support business objectives and sustainability - convening conversations and opportunities for innovation and creative business - and tying equity, inclusion, diversity and accessibility values and initiatives to corporate strategy that can further assist the organization in achieving key objectives. Kate has her BA in Oboe Performance and minor in Music Composition from the University of Missouri Kansas City Conservatory of Music and Interdisciplinary Masters: American Culture, American History, American Music. Kate is the immediate past Chair of the Inclusion Council for the Greater Des Moines Partnership, serves on The Des Moines Symphony EDI Committee, the Board of Directors for the Des Moines Art Center, and the Executive Board of Directors for BRAVO Des Moines.


(click on the date to view)

May 26, 2021 conversation
In celebration of Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, we have a group of diverse, local artists to share their experience in finding their seat at the table. Panelists includes Clarence Padilla, Christine Her, and Pragnya Yogesh – facilitated by Kate Hightshoe.

February 11, 2021 conversation
Expert panel included local community creative and educator Emmett Phillips , artist H.C. Porter, and Des Moines Symphony member, Jason Wells. This conversation will be facilitated by Kate Hightshoe.

December 17, 2020 conversation
Expert panel included Executive Director of the Des Moines Art Festival, Stephen King, Executive Director of BRAVO Greater Des Moines, Sally Dix, and Des Moines Artist INC facilitator Beau Kenyon and Dr. A'ndrea Wilson; facilitated by Kate Hightshoe.

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