[Cross-posted at Rocking the Cradle, my blog for the Center for Rural Arts development and leadership Education]
"I knew that there must be plays of the people filled with the spirit of places... I felt the convistion then that I have maintained since -- that the knowledge and love of place is a large part of the joy in people's lives. There must be plays that grow from all the countrysides of America, fabricated by the people themselves, born of toiling hands and free minds, born of music and love and reason."
Robert Gard, Grassroots Theatre
I received an email over the weekend from Robert Gard's daughter, Maryo Gard Ewell, a prominant community arts promoter in her own right, who told me:
I'm working on a conference to take place later this month in Wisconsin, the Gard Symposium. We are trying to look at community arts by looking across disciplines - we always say that the "arts build healthy communities" but often we mean "I think that more arts build healthy communities, I help create more arts, therefore I help build healthy communities" which is kind of circular. Lew Feldstein, co-author of "Better Together," is the conference keynote speaker, and then we'll hear from a political leader, a technology specialist, a religious leader, an economist, and a medical social worker, and finding out what THEY think a "healthy community" is; then artists will respond. We hope that we can help elicit thoughts on what the "local arts agency" of the next decade could believe, look like, and do.
To this end, we have a conference blog site, and each of the "healthy community specialists" mentioned above has written a very short essay on what they think a "healthy community" is. We'd love for you to respond. That's http://gardfoundation.blogspot.com
Please forward the address to people you think will be interested. We don't want just artists to be involved. Perhaps your students? You? Your colleagues?An artists' "zine" picked up information on the conference/conference papers, so you may want to see what they think - really cool! - here's the link - before you go to the blog.
Let's get into a good discussion!
If you are able to attend this conference in Madison WI, I think your time will be well-spent. I would like to go myself, but it is difficult in the midst of the semester, and I doubt I'll be able to manage. But if you go, please send me a report, and I will post it here on the blog.