Artist as Activist program offers venue for social change

Arts enthusiast Joi Sears grew up in Cincinnati, where, as a student, she was able to take advantage of offerings like ballet classes at the Cincinnati Ballet, in addition to musical theater and other dance classes at the University of Cincinnati’s College Conservatory of Music.
After graduating from Walnut Hills High School, however, Sears went away for college and landed in New York City, where she’s lived for the past 10 years. She’s also spent her fair share of time abroad in places like Amsterdam and Brazil—home to Theatre of the Oppressed.
Theatre of the Oppressed, a term used to describe interactive, participatory activities that audience members engage in to explore and analyze the realities in which they live, is what Sears is now introducing to the Cincinnati community through her nonprofit Theatre for the Free People.
The mission: Using the arts as a vehicle for social change.
“Last year, I moved back to Cincinnati, so now I’m here and have been really inspired by the startup community and all the creative things happening here,” Sears says.
To engage the creative community with Theatre for the Free People and the techniques of Theatre of the Oppressed, Sears is offering the Artist as Activist program, which is a 10-week project that takes place at the Clifton Cultural Arts Center, beginning Saturday, January 11 at 12 p.m.
“We’ll be doing a workshop which will include games that help us think about our impact—our art and our impact on our community and our world,” Sears says.
The second half of each session will include one-on-one time or collaborative opportunities for artists to think critically about their work and create some sort of project to showcase at the end of the 10 weeks.
Sears says she envisions everyone from poets, visual artists and even teachers who want to come up with more creative lesson plans—artists of all kinds—joining together to make an impact.
“Art is at the forefront of any social justice movement—it’s very central to creating change in the world,” Sears says. “So I really want to empower artists to think about what it is that they do and how they can use that—use their voice to make change.”

Do Good:

Read about the Artist as Activist program, and apply.

Contact Sears if you're an artist interested in collaborating, or if you're interested in attending a session or a couple sessions and would like to work something out. 

• Like Theatre for the Free People on Facebook.

By Brittany York
Brittany York is a professor of English composition at the University of Cincinnati and a project manager for Charitable Words. She also edits the For Good section of SoapboxMedia. 

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