UMS Provides “No Safety Net” For Tough Discussions

No Safety Net tackles race, gender, sex, violence, class.

University Musical Society FKPH

Beginning January 17th, the University Musical Society (UMS) of the University of Michigan is presenting “No Safety Net,” a series of performances centered on “conversations about race, power, sex, slavery, terrorism, transgender identity and radical wellness and healing.” The production aims to foster open conversation and serve as a call to action. 

“It’s been fascinating to see the dialogue that continues around these works,” says Matthew VanBesien, the president of the UMS, who joins Stephen Henderson on Detroit Today to discuss the motivation behind the festival and its goals.

“The reality is that in this day and age one person’s provocation is often another person’s reality,” VanBesien says. “No Safety Net is about pushing these things into a space where people can really have a discussion about it.”

“The arts can sometimes be very very risk-averse. I think that time is over now… We hope the arts can be a catalyst for exploring viewpoints.”

Click on the audio player above to hear the full conversation.


  • Detroit Today
    Dynamic and diverse voices. News, politics, community and the issues that define our region. Hosted by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Stephen Henderson, Detroit Today brings you fresh and perceptive views weekdays at 9 am and 7 pm.