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Sunday, August 2, 2009

Power of the arts toward social change

So we all know what a big fan I am of using creativity and the arts for social change efforts. Creative endeavors help people to think through ideas, be honest with themselves, grow, and open up to each other. And this isn't made-up malarkey.

On Wed. night, I was lucky enough to attend HBO's Latino Film Festival for the premiere of "Stages," a documentary about a theater program for senior citizens and at-risk youth. This amazing piece details the true story of how people of all ages and backgrounds are brought together and transformed through performing and speaking out.

Beautifully shot and beautifully told, the film was made by the Meerkat Media Arts Collective, a very talented group of artists who produce films collaboratively--and in this case, who meaningfully mirrored the collective theater process they were documenting.

In the film, the seniors and youth were equally surprised at how much the other group had to offer and how much they learned from each other, and together they created a community based on trust and discovery. Doesn't that sound like a great basis for the kind of thoughtful, peaceful, vibrant world we'd all like to live in?

Post Script: Just tonight, "Stages" took home the Audience Favorite and Best Documentary awards at the HBO Latino Film Festival awards ceremony! Hopefully this will just be the first stop as wider and wider audiences are moved and changed by "Stages."

My even greater hope is that our culture as a whole will value the power of the arts, and put more of our nation's wealth and respect into its support. The MetLife Foundation only gave money for one year of the Evolve Theater Project that "Stages" followed. What progress could be happening right now if they or someone else would renew this funding?

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