Sunday, January 4, 2009

Building an Arts Activism Curriculum

I've been working for the past several months to build a core curriculum for youth about the concept of arts activism. It's been trickier than I thought. 

The first question: What is arts activism? The simplest way I can begin to define it is the communication/expression of a message through an artistic medium to create or inspire change. How can we engage students in this concept--I am hesitant to simply provide a definition. Shouldn't this come from the participants themselves? If so, how?

Defining or introducing artistic mediums is even more difficult. In one lesson, is it possible to both introduce the concept of theatre/drama and also frame it from an arts activism perspective (doing the same for dance and music as well?)

What is Theatre? 
Augusto Boal defines theatre as "the art of looking at ourselves." But this isn't how theatre or drama is typically perceived or defined. Drama is rooted in the Greek "to do" or "to act." Drama utilizes body and voice to express. Theatre (performative--or not) can also focus on the realm of storytelling or voice. Whose stories are told? Whose are left out? It should also be important to stress that drama can be performative or non-performative (Perhaps this is important and true for all of the arts?)

Dance and music are even more difficult (because I focus on Educational Theatre).

What is Dance?
Dance is words, poetry, and emotion in action. It is communication, imitation, or expression through physical movement, using space and time.

What is Music?
Jean-Jacques Nattiez defines music as "sound through time."

I have also been gathering examples to introduce arts activism via the mediums of theatre/drama, music, and dance.

Currently, focusing on: