Fighting Elitism in the Arts
I am the Founder and Executive Director of Moving Stories, a company that works in partnership with community organizations to create performances integrating live storytelling with original music and dance. Our mission is to integrate high arts culture and everyday life: fighting elitism in the arts.
Our latest project is in collaboration with Moving Steps, a dance company comprised of previously incarcerated women, and women in recovery. Over the past six months, my team facilitated a series of storytelling, music, and dance workshops with the women of Moving Steps. These workshops resulted in a full-length script, in which the women told their stories live, and stories were interwoven with music and dance. This production seeks to address the epidemics of addiction and over-incarceration within our community: to raise awareness, create conversation, and diminish stigma.
Our work seeks to address relevant and pressing social issues, through the lens of personal experience. It is our belief that the arts are enhanced when grounded in real-life stories, and, similarly, individual stories are enhanced when complemented by music and dance.
We operate under the philosophy that the community benefits when individual members share their stories publicly. By addressing issues that plague our communities, cities, and society at large, we hope to use this template for live performance to empower individuals while also creating a dialogue within the community.
The performance is designed based fully on the content of stories told. Our team of professional choreographers, musicians, composers, storytellers, and directors knit together a structure in which all forms can come together, and exist side-by-side.
"If we could reopen the conversation between our best minds and the broader public, the result would not only transform society, but also artistic and intellectual life. Most American artists, intellectuals, and academics have lost their ability to converse with the rest of society. We have become wonderfully expert in talking to one another, but we have become almost invisible and inaudible in the general culture."
~Dana Gioia, former chairman, National Endowment for the Arts
As an arts model, and a business model, our hope is to fight elitism in the arts. On a purely aesthetic level, it is our belief that people--or any one person--have something to offer the rest of the community. Our team works to create a show that highlights whatever that particular message is. The fundamental philosophy here is that the everyday person has just as much to offer on stage as the concert pianist, opera singer, or jazz saxophonist.
As a business model, Moving Stories strives to create a partnership between highly successful arts institutions (museums, conservatories, etc.), and grassroots organizations. Moving Stories serves as the middleman, or intermediary between the two. Through sponsorships, grants, partnerships, and commissions, financial support from successful institutions is funneled directly into grassroots organizations; trickle-down economics, some would say. That is, money is funneled directly from highly successful institutions to the grassroots organization that is partnering with Moving Stories. By investing in the production and the performance, sponsors receive a high-quality performance, while also investing in the organization and individuals involved.
We aim to create high-quality arts performances that are also steeped in social justice issues. With our team of directors, we aim to create a show that appeals to all audiences: those within the arts community, and those outside of it. The show itself would serve to create a dialogue within the community, diminish stigma, and create a larger sense of community--across boundaries of class, race, gender, and culture.
It is our fundamental belief that the power of the everyday can, when presented honestly, be more striking than that which is highly cultivated.
Check out this great article from the Cambridge Scout: http://scoutcambridge.com/moving-stories/