Instruments of Change (http://instrumentsofchange.org) is happy to highlight some of the community arts engagement that we’ve been able to deliver, online, during the pandemic. Most notable has been the continuation of our Lullaby Project, as a branch of a larger global initiative founded by NY’s Carnegie Hall (https://www.carnegiehall.org/Education/Programs/Lullaby-Project).
Since last April, our program, now in its 5th year, has successfully collaborated with 15 mothers (mostly single and escaping violence), thru a partnership with Vancouver’s YWCA, to help them write original songs for their children. So far, 8 beautiful lullabies have been completed, through 1-on-1 online engagements between our songwriters and mothers. And links to these song files can be found here: https://soundcloud.com/user-844338176/sets/lullaby-project-the-remote-edition
Additionally, we have found ways to sustain our long running Women Rock program, online. This is an empowering music program which provides a safe and inclusive, women-only space where participants learn to play rock instruments, form bands, manage gear and write songs. Consequently, they build their confidence, creativity, collaboration and communication skills. Our participants have expressed particular gratitude for the opportunity to connect and co-create during this isolating time. And, as many of them are of Asian descent, they have also shared that they have very unfortunately experienced increased violence and hate during this time. So, our program has provided them a critical outlet for expression, sharing, venting, and processing. While simultaneous musical ‘jamming’ is not possible in digital spaces like Zoom or other platforms, our participants have co-written song lyrics focused on a group-selected theme of “Kindness as an Antidote to Violence”. They have also been able to greatly improve their musical literacy, with our extensive music theory workshops. And we have had the chance to offer more private instrument instruction using digital platforms.
Some new initiatives
- In remixed messages, we engaged with high school youth from the Surrey Learning Centre in an online project, facilitated by myself and media artist, Flick Harrison. Here, students explore themes of presence and non-presence, while hacking the modes of Zoom, etc. to reveal hidden meanings, dangers, and opportunities. Activities included the creation of original memes, avatars, fake news reels, raps and more.
- With our heARTful solutions initiative, we asked for generous, empathetic, creative ideas from emerging community artists who were interested in creating artful engagements that could address some of the pain points and challenges of this time. And now, we are very fortunate to have theatre artist, Hila Graf, as our first grant recipient. Experienced in devised theatre, (a methodology where improvisation and storytelling result in collaboratively created scripts), Hila is working with multi-generational newcomer families in Vancouver, exploring questions around human connection. This co-creative process will culminate in a live-streamed theatre piece, (potentially including distant friends and family through "phone screen" appearances), in late summer or early fall.
- And finally, this summer, in Infectious Gratitude, in an effort to transform fear into gratitude, we will invite community to appreciate and advocate for their local assets (businesses, services, green spaces) in creative ways by asking “ what would you like to see thrive in your community?” Then, we will facilitate a creative process, in safe, socially-distanced Peanuts Lucy-style pop-up booths. set up at various Vancouver parks, where community members can write and then "translate" their responses (“urban love letters”) into haiku poetry and visual art, displayed on hand-painted plexiglass ornaments that will ultimately be hung throughout the city, by each object, as a way to advocate and spread gratitude for these local assets