Promoter Cecile Lipworth
“MY sense of responsibility leads to my workaholism. When your office is in your house, there’s never a door to shut,” Cecile Lipworth said. “I’m very committed. I don’t work in my pajamas. I get dressed and sit at my computer, and I don’t leave sometimes for many, many hours.”
Lipworth works in marketing and production of events and ideas that advance social change through creative means. She coordinates public readings and talks for Collected Works Bookstore in a freelance capacity, communicating with authors, publishers, and publicists on scheduling and promotion. If you’ve seen writers on Facebook Live reading their work from the bookstore stage, then Lipworth is likely the woman behind the smartphone. She has worked on local political campaigns and she co-hosts a weekly feminist radio show, “Brave Space,” with Patricia Trujillo on KTRC-AM 1260. She also owns the consulting company Ripple Catalyst Media, through which she has produced art exhibitions and theatrical performances.
Lipworth, who was in Johannesburg, South Africa, in the late 1990s before she moved to Santa Fe, got into marketing for social change while working for V-Day, playwright Eve Ensler’s international movement to end violence against women and girls. She worked with Ensler for 15 years and served as managing director of V-Day from 2006 to 2015. V-Day provides Ensler’s 1996 play, The Vagina Monologues, free of charge to groups who want to produce it. Ensler established One Billion Rising in 2012, a mass dance action designed to draw attention to the global problem of violence against women.
“At V-Day, I learned to be creative to promote the message that one in three women — which is one billion women — are sexually violated. So much about social justice is statistics. Some people get so bombarded by numbers that it’s hard to touch their hearts. When people saw The Vagina Monologues, they were able to have conversations they’d never had. At the beginning, theaters weren’t allowed to put the word ‘vagina’ on their marquee, or print it on the tickets. We had to train people. We said this is what the play is called, and you have to use the word. Not everyone loves The Vagina Monologues. We were always fine with that. We just wanted to talk about it. How can you say how you have been violated when you can’t say where?
“I don’t think we’d have the #MeToo movement without these pieces.” Ripple Catalyst Studio produced and promoted The Absolute Brightness of
Leonard Pelkey — James Lecesne’s one-man show about the murder of a gay teenage boy — at the Adobe Rose Theatre in 2016. The same year, Lipworth collaborated with the Maryland-based organization Art & Remembrance to bring Stitching Our Stories to the Santa Fe Community Convention Center. It was an exhibition and workshop series that focused on the story-cloth tapestries of Holocaust survivor Esther Nisenthal Krinitz and those made by immigrants living in Santa Fe. In 2017, she produced Sibylle Szaggars Redford’s performance art piece, The Way
of the Rain, at the World Summit on Art & Culture in Abu Dhabi.
The philosophy behind Lipworth’s company name is that each person creating change forms a ripple, and the ripples join each other as they extend into the local community — and eventually connect to national and international conversations. She tries to bring a similar sense of social justice activism to events and readings at Collected Works, branching out in the last few years from standard readings and signings to include conversations and panel discussions with writers, artists, educators, advocates, and local politicians.
The issue closest to her heart remains preventing violence against women and girls. “My education through the work I did with V-Day really changed my entire life. When women are able to thrive — when they are not struggling with issues in the workplace or economic injustice — then communities are strong,” she said. While certainly there are important issues that create discord among feminists with shared goals that need to be discussed — “white feminism and black feminism” among them, she said — there is a big-picture piece that Lipworth doesn’t want to forget.
“I traveled all over the world for V-Day. What I found was that when women from different countries are in a room together, their stories are so similar. We’ve had the same women’s experiences. I feel like if we could start the conversation at 30,000 feet, then, truly, change could happen. That’s what I work for every day — trying to get women to that point of being able to talk through the micro stuff, because together we have incredible power.” — Jennifer Levin
“When women are able to thrive — when they are not struggling with issues in the workplace or economic injustice — then communities are strong.”