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Kamarck, Edward (ed.) / Arts in society: the arts and the black revolution II

Siegel, Marcia B.
Notes and discussions: starting with dance,   pp. [504]-508 PDF (5.4 MB)

Page 508

508      they're isolated and locked in. The
universal quality of the arts speaks better
to many of them than the structured
experience of the classroom, where, if he
can't respond, a kid will drop out or just
sit there in apathy and anger. The
non-verbal expression of the arts
communicates like nothing else does. We
had a tremendous success with our
film-making program last year - kids
really worked hard and produced their own
films, which were later shown in other
parts of the city on the movie bus.
Every kid has a need for expression and the
arts often make it possible. If you can
make something, you have a feeling of
accomplishment, you can say 'I am
by the proceeds - $25,000 - from a
special benefit performance given last fall
by the Harkness Ballet and run by our
office. We'd love to encourage more
participation of this kind from private
It may be years before anyone can tell
what impact programs like this are having
on the ghetto, before audiences are built,
identity is discovered, talent is revealed.
But one response was immediate and
gratifying that afternoon last spring, as the
children in the Brownsville Head Start
Center filed out past the dancers, staring up
with eyes round in awe and shyly saying
"Thank you."
"We're not a social agency," Mrs. Freedman
continued, "but the arts as a social tool
haven't been explored enough. We take
the long-rarige view that people who are
involved don't get in trouble. It's not our
purpose to keep the city cool - there are
other agencies that do that. But we can be
a preventive agent if we're in there all along,
getting people to participate in rich
activity. In summer the city outdoors is a
great place. There's a neutrality in the
streets, people don't feel uncomfortable
attending a concert or an opera in the park,
as they might in an auditorium. This
city is driving with the greatest creativity
in the world, and fifty blocks away people
are unaware of it!
"A great thing is that the artists are
coming to us offering to help. Last summer
a priest, Monsignor Fox, started a
Summer in the City program, where he just
turned artists loose in different
neighborhoods and let them make contact
and do their thing. There were block
parties, mural painting projects, shows -
people became involved in a most
positive way.
"Of course, in a city like this, the arts
aren't given a very high priority in the
budget, but our office is able to supplement
some of its programs with contributions
from private funds. Rod Rodgers' dance
performances for the Head Start children
are part of what we call the Youth
Opportunity Creative Workshop program.
Along with the Dance Mobile, some school
appearances by Merce Cunningham, and
other dance events, it was partly financed

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