Kamarck, Edward (ed.) / Arts in society: the arts and the black revolution II
Siegel, Marcia B.
Notes and discussions: starting with dance, pp. -508 PDF (5.4 MB)
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 someone.' 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 sources." 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