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Compassion Arts Festival was started in 2015 by animal advocate and music artist Ellie Sarty (founder of Compassion Arts). A 10 day ‘festival of the arts’, the festival began as a ‘live’ event project for presenting the work and ideas of artists, educators, and advocates dedicated to raising awareness about animals and cultivating peace for all. In its first 5 years, events were held in spaces like Worcester Art Museum (MA), The Leonard Nimoy Theater at Symphony Space (NYC), Amazing Things Arts Center (MA), PACE University (NY) and Unity of Central Mass. Last year, due to the pandemic, programs were changed to an online format, which will continue thru 2022.

The festival has presented numerous programs, sometimes partnering with other organizations such as Culture and Animals Foundation, In Defense of Animals, Earthlands, Catskill Animal Sanctuary, Maple Farm Sanctuary, Woodstock Sanctuary, Unity Sanctuary and others, as well as working with vegan community in events such as CompassionFest, Boston Veg Fest, New England Veg Fest and more. Past events include true storytelling workshops, compassion fatigue programs, poetry readings, art exhibits, concerts, theater performances, film screenings, community art projects, speakers, sanctuary tours, vegan pot lucks, healing arts, and reading circles.

Some of our past programs and presentations (in alphabetical order) have included:

  • Allison Argo: Filmmaker, The Last Pig film screening, CAF Artists for Ahimsa Award (CAF 2018)
  • Marla Andrews: animal advocate, humane Educator, compassion fatigue program (CAF 2020)
  • A Prayer for Compassion: A Prayer for Compassion - documentary film screening
  • Kevin Archer: Peace Meal Supper Club (CAF 2015)
  • Joy Askew: recording artist, composer, performing singer-songwriter (CAF 2017, 2020)
  • Gene Baur: Farm Sanctuary founder, author of Forks Over Knives (CAF 2015)
  • Culture and Animals Foundation: Compassion Arts & Culture and Animals Festival at Symphony Space NYC (CAF 2017)
  • Danny Hamilton: musician, performing singer-songwriter, recording artist (2020)
  • Michael Harren: composer, musician, multi-media performing artist (CAF 2017, 2018, 2020)
  • Kedi: documentary film screening (CAF 2017)
  • Joanne Kong: animal advocate, educator, concert pianist, speaker (CAF 2020)
  • April Lang: animal advocate, therapist, author of Animal Persuasion (CAF 2019, 2020)
  • Isa Leshko: Photographer, author of Allowed to Grow Old (CAF 2019)
  • Lisa Levinson: animal advocate, In Defense of Animals sustainable activism campaign director, Vegan Spirituality creator, co-founder of Public Eye: Artists for Animals (CAF 2019, 2020)
  • Jasmine Leyva: filmmaker, The Invisible Vegan film screening ( CAF 2020)
  • Dawn Casteel-Lorick: The Listening Project, One Kindred Paw (2020)
  • Jo-Anne McArthur: Photojournalist, author, founder of We Animals Media and Unbound Project, CAF Artists for Ahimsa Award and CAF Women Artists for Animals presenter ( CAF 2017, 2020)
  • Cyrus Mejia: visual artist, co-founder of Best Friends Animal Society and Ravens Heart Gallery, CAF Artists for Ahimsa Award ( CAF 2020)
  • Cheryl Miller: Forty-nine Million Turkeys Community Art Project (CAF 2019)
  • Carolyn Merino-Mullin: The Animal Museum founder, gallery & exhibit curator (2020)
  • Victoria Moran: Main Street Vegan radio, A Prayer for Compassion film screening (CAF 2019)
  • Marlene Narrow: Vegan Nation radio program, World Peace Diet presenter ( CAF 2016, 2019, 2020)
  • Jane O’Hara: visual artist, Beasts of Burden curator, Forget Me Not virtual exhibit, CAF Women Artists for Animals presenter (CAF 2015-2020)
  • Gretchen Primack: poet, educator, author of KIND (CAF 2017, 2020)
  • Janell O’Rourke: visual artist, ArtAnimalAffect co-founder, CAF Women Artists for Animals (CAF 2020)
  • Lewis Randa: Peace Abbey Foundation (CAF 2016)
  • Sailesh Rao: Climate Healers (CAF 2020)
  • Martin Rowe: founder of Lantern Publishing & Media, author, creator of Vegan America (CAF 2015, 2017)
  • Kathy Stevens: Catskill Animal Sanctuary founder, creator of Compassionate Cuisine, author of Where the Blind Horse Sings and Animal Camp (CAF 2020)
  • Mihoko Suzuki: musician, composer of song-cycle “And the Hummingbird Says” ( CAF 2017)
  • The Invisible Vegan: documentary film screening
  • The Last Pig: documentary film screening
  • TMI Project: True Storytelling writing workshops (CAF 2019, 2020) True Story Playback Theater (CAF 2019)
  • Will Tuttle: speaker, educator, workshop facilitator, author of World Peace Diet (CAF 2016, 2020)
  • Nina Vecchi: musician, singer-songwriter, healing arts / Sound Alchemy (CAF 2019)
  • Donald Vincent ( aka Mr. Hip): poet and writer, spoken word artist, Vegan Paradise album creator and performer, That’s So Vegan creator ( CAF 2016 - 2020)
  • Alfee West: Documentarian, Rattle & the Thunder, Compassion Chorus ( CAF 2017-2020)
  • John Yunker: Radio play “Sanctuary” presented by Our Hen House (CAF 2017)

Other contributing performers, artists, and advocates over the years have included (in alphabetical order):

ArtAnimalAffect artists Kathryn Eddy, Janell O’Rourke, LA Watson (2020); author and educator Carol Adams (video 2020) animal advocate and scholar Aytan Alkan (2017); Bella and the Eclipse theater performance lab (2019); artist Ariel Bordeaux (2016); Earthlands (2015); Kala Farnham (2018-2020); artist Linda G Fisher; artist Luiso Garcia (2020); artist Suzy Gonzalez (video 2020); Infinite Trees Project (2015); educator Dale Jamieson (2017); EC Lorrick (music 2020); filmmaker Marissa Wolfson Miller (2017); Moby (video 2020); Our Hen House (radio play) (2017) ; Rattle and The Thunder music performance lab with Sunta Africa, the Balboans band, Lucas Bickford, Cynthia Sarty, Ellie Sarty (2017, 2018, 2019); artist Kim Salinas (2016), educator Radhika Subramaniam (2017); Cheri Vandersluis (2016); as well as others on past rosters with programs in the works or postponed in the wings for rescheduling including Feral Arts of New England Exotic Animal Sanctuary, Dr. Aimee Breeze Harper, Most Good Least Harm workshop, Medicine Mammals, Vegan Nest Café.

Deepest gratitude over the years to Laurie Johnston of Two Trick Pony, Jane O’Hara, Tabitha Logan, Nicole Melone, Marlene Narrow, Martin Rowe, Cynthia Sarty, Pat Sarty, Donald Vincent, Alfee Westgroves and Jen Wyglinski for contributions of time, talent, ideas, services that have helped make the festival possible, and for the support and encouragement of Unity of Central Mass. Ahimsa Peace!