Mosaic Arts Collective
Mosaic Arts Collective is bringing powerful shows like The Color Purple, Moana and In the Heights to Springfield. We talked to one of its founders, Keegan Winfield, about its mission, history and vision.
Last February, Springfield's theater lovers found a new reason to applaud when Mosaic Arts Collective unveiled its first production, The Color Purple. Enthusiastic crowds turned out for the show, which was produced at the historic Fox Theatre in conjunction with Springfield Contemporary Theatre.
For some, it felt like this powerful, new force in Springfield’s cultural scene had emerged overnight, but in reality, Mosaic’s co-founders, Nki Calloway, Amanda Snead and Keegan Winfield, have deep connections. They all came up as theater kids in the Midwest. In 2022, they were all part of Small Umbrella Theatre Company’s production of Once on this Island, and they began talking about how they’d felt growing up in predominantly white environments.
“In theater specifically, it felt like you were either being pushed aside or pushed into a specific box,” Winfield says. “You could only go after certain kinds of roles or you were being denied access to certain shows based solely on the color of your skin.”
And the thought of putting up The Color Purple, which calls for a sizable cast of Black performers? “There was this idea that we’d never be able to put on a show like this,” Winfield says. “That there wasn’t the talent available, that there wouldn’t be people to come out and audition for it so that we could do the show properly.” But Mosaic had no trouble casting the show. “We’ve found that there are a lot of artists out there who want to be involved, and they’ve felt like they didn’t have a place to do it,” Winfield says. “They’re there, they’re hungry, and they’re ready to come out for it.”
Following the success of The Color Purple, Mosaic put up another hit: Moana, in collaboration with Springfield Little Theatre’s (SLT) education department. It’s poised to achieve yet another milestone this winter when it produces In the Heights, its first mainstage SLT production at the Landers Theatre. To accompany the performance, Mosaic is planning an art exhibit featuring the work of Latino artists, which will be on display during the run of In the Heights.
It’s an ambitious plan, and that’s become part of Mosaic’s brand. “The way I’ve gotten anything done in my life ever, is to just do it—have the idea, take a baby step forward, try to find people who have a similar vision and are willing to collaborate,” Winfield says. “What’s been so wonderful with Mosaic is that the arts community in Springfield is so collaborative. They’re willing to lift you up.”