Oct
01

Culture, Crisis and Recovery

Anyone who has worked with the arts in non-traditional settings, that is, outside the more familiar spaces of our studios, galleries, theaters and concert halls, knows that there is a bit of healing magic tucked into the essence of our art forms that routinely takes people by surprise.  What’s more, no matter how many times we witness it or enter into the experience ourselves, that moment of newness, refreshment, transformation — call it what you like — is there to surprise us.   It takes many forms, to be sure.  But everyone one of them gives us a kind of lift, a deepening, an opening, a sense of something more that feels good, pretty remarkable, in fact. 

I’m heading to a conference this afternoon in New Orleans, the 10th Annual Conference of Imagining America (Artists and Scholars in Public Life) and this year it’s entitled “Culture, Crisis and Recovery”.  Representatives of a hundred universities will be on hand to join in a conversation about the sort of partnerships between unversities and organizations in their surrounding communities that can uplift both parties, even in a climate of crisis.  My own presentation will be reporting on a project we undertook in partnership with George Washington University’s Center for Crisis, Disaster and Risk Management on behalf of the American Red Cross in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.  What do you do for the heroes and caregivers — the first responders, as they are called — when they themselves have become the victims of overwhelming disaster?  Our team from Creative Leaps International was able to provide an experience (a resilience retreat) steeped in the healing powers of the arts that made a remarkable difference for them.  From the depths of dispair and dysfunction, they emerged triumphant and renewed.  If you’d like to read about it, check out this link: http://www.creativeleaps.org/news/200804/NewOrleans.htm

But here’s my question for you, my colleagues in the arts, “How tuned in are you to the transformative powers of your art?   Have you explored the deeper potencies of your art form, its powers to catalyze new thinking, learning, healing and personal growth in others?   Are you actively engaged in putting that power to work in hospitals, schools, community centers, rehab centers, senior centers, centers for wellness, resilience and leadership?”  To learn more about how this is done, visit the ETA web site   (http://www.entrepreneurthearts.com/   or that of Creative Leaps International (www.creativeleaps.org) or The Learning Arts (www.learningarts.org) .   It’s time to bring your gifts more fully into the world.

I’d love to hear your stories, how you do it, what you do and what you aspire to do.  Together, we can empower one another in this important work.    The world really does need your gifts.  I cheer you in your every enedavor!

John

John Cimino, Creative Leaps International

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