Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Up To Us

The Emerging Issues Forum on Creativity was probably the most interesting conference I’ve ever attended. The speakers were fabulous (really fabulous), but I’ve seen fabulous. The company was great, but it always is. What was so amazing was that we (the few arts people in attendance) were able to watch as OUR argument was made FOR us, to and by the exact people we are always fighting to reach. To hear Daniel Pink, Bill Strickland, Arne Duncan and others telling the business community and legislature about the importance of Arts Education was extraordinary! I left inspired by their words and energized by the possibilities that lie ahead. This gathering has laid the ground work for us. It’s up to us to keep the ball rolling, but for once and FINALLY, we won’t be the only ones playing the game.

Angie Hays
Executive Director
North Carolina Theatre Conference

Friday, February 5, 2010

Turn The Tide

Over 1500 people will gather in Raleigh on Monday and Tuesday for the Institute for Emerging Issues Forum on Creativity.  ARTS North Carolina, the North Carolina Arts Council, and the Department of Cultural Resources have all had a hand in the outcome.
It's your turn now.  On Tuesday, there will be a powerhouse session led by Governor Jim Hunt entitled Graduating Creativity.  Right this minute, go to this website, , and under the header click on "weigh in".  Be heard.  Let your passions, thoughts, questions, data, research, and keen knowledge help shape the course of this session.
You can also live stream the conference next week by logging on to  Be awed by the convening of thought and creativity that is North Carolina's future.  Arts = Education = Creative Economy is our mantra, and you can be assured it will be uttered frequently next week.
Take action now.

Haiti's Hope

New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof recently wrote, “To visit Haiti is to know that its problem isn’t its people. They are its treasure – smart, industrious and hospitable…” and I would add “creative.”

Before January 12, to visit Haiti was to witness art at every turn. Paintings for sale hung on concrete walls in every neighborhood, turning pot-holed, dusty streets into outdoor galleries. And fruit and vegetable vendors arranged their fare in artful ways, whether lemons, tomatoes, bananas or soursops. Market women walked with their entire inventory perched on their heads – flip-flops or candies or scrub brushes displayed in perfect symmetry. In fact you would be tempted to say they danced down the street, full of grace.

The public transportation, trucks and buses called “tap-taps,” were a riot of color, with everything from Jesus to favorite soccer players to pop stars airbrushed alongside scripture and wild geometric patterns. And you couldn’t sit outside long without the sound of live singing rising from somewhere in earshot.

Perhaps the best example of Haitian art that exemplifies the inspiring industriousness and ingenuity of the people is the metal art that was not only all over Haiti, but is now all over the world, as the artists turned their original idea of reusing oil drum tops into a world-wide phenomenon, hammering them into intricate, delicate, sometimes whimsical, sometimes literal depictions of Bible stories or Haitian vodou traditions.

All of these elements of Haitian society, I suspect, are slowly coming back to life.

I have shot video in Haiti many times for documentary work and have filmed young dancers and painters and singers who live together in a home for street children in Port-au-Prince. The dancers have toured all over Canada and the US. The painters have their work hanging in homes and offices in both countries as well, and the singers made a CD that has sold far and wide. These children weren’t “auditioned” to be brought off the streets to join this particular home.

Every child I have met has simply not skipped a beat when asked to join in these activities upon arriving at the home. Art appears to be central to their beings – it is not some detached subject they might or might not be taught in school. You need only scratch the surface and it is already there.

I am not trying to romanticize Haitians or suggest there is some noble savage element to their art. But I am suggesting survival in such a culture takes real ingenuity and resourcefulness and resilience, and that is not so different from the creativity central to making art.

The home for street boys where I’ve worked collapsed during the recent earthquake. Luckily none of the boys were killed. Through e-mail and Facebook, I have heard they are already scrambling to recreate their dance costumes that were shredded and replace their drums that were destroyed. They will prevail.

And the Haitian people will prevail. Sure, it will take enormous amounts of outside money. But their insistence on hope and beauty is alive. The raw ingredients necessary for regeneration are there. Just scratch the surface of any Haitian and you will find it.

– Miriam Sauls

A poem sent to me since the quake:

For the Poorest Country in the Western Hemisphere

Oh poorest country, this is not your name.
You should be called beacon, and flame,

almond and bougainvillea, garden
and green mountain, villa and hut,

little girl with red ribbons in her hair,
books-under-arm, charmed by the light

of morning, charcoal seller in black skirt,
encircled by dead trees.

You, country, are the businessman
and the eager young man, the grandfather

at the gate, at the crossroads
with the flashlight, with the light,

with the light.

– Danielle Legros Georges