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Atlantic Fellows for Social and Economic Equity
Katy Rubin AFSEE

Katy Rubin

Legislative Theatre Practitioner & Creative Civic Strategist

Katy is a practitioner and designer of Legislative Theatre, an innovative, inclusive, and joyful participatory democracy methodology that directly challenges injustices in governments and institutions, bringing residents, policymakers, and advocates together into creative dialogue and offering a rigorous testing space for equitable, human-centred policy and practice.

Over the past decade, Katy has been developing, implementing, and amplifying this methodology across the US and the UK; she currently works in partnership with city councils from London to Glasgow, national government, and community groups on issues including housing and homelessness, food poverty and social welfare, healthcare, migration, the climate crisis, and cultural equity. Her collaboration with Greater Manchester Combined Authority to co-create England’s first regional Homelessness Prevention Strategy was awarded the International Observatory of Participatory Democracy 2022 Award for Best Practice in Citizen Participation.

Katy serves as a Senior Fellow with People Powered: Global Hub for Participatory Democracy, where she is the lead editor for the Legislative Theatre content of the new Participation Playbook and mentors emerging practitioners worldwide. She is also an Associate with Shared Future CIC, where she is part of a team of facilitators leading democratic participation projects around the UK. Her previous and current teaching roles include Yale School of Drama, Columbia University, and The New School, as well as international training for activists and civic leaders. She serves as a mentor for Arts Emergency, which helps young people get a fair start in the arts and humanities.

Katy was formerly the founding executive director of Theatre of the Oppressed NYC (TONYC), which creates theatre troupes with communities impacted by systemic oppression; since 2011, the organisation has engaged thousands of New Yorkers each year in free, interactive public performances and dialogues. TONYC also developed and popularised the practice of Legislative Theatre in the US, changing NYC policy and practice. With TONYC, Katy co-authored 'The Wildcard Workbook: A Practical Guide to Jokering Forum Theatre', published in 2022. Her writing has also been published in Routledge Companion to Theatre of the Oppressed and The Forge: Organizing Strategy and Practice, among others.

Katy studied with the creator of Theatre of the Oppressed, Augusto Boal, in Brazil, and Jana Sanskriti in India; she holds a BFA and Distinguished Alumna Award from Boston University College of Fine Arts and is an alum of Coro Leadership New York.

When open democratic processes and community arts come together to tackle unjust policies and practices, three key ingredients are present: fun, creativity, and hands-on participation. Democracy can be fun - sneakily disarming traditional power structures; creative - opening up new possibilities to address entrenched economic, racial and gender inequities; and practical - integrating real-world experimentation towards concrete policy wins.

Katy Rubin


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