Last month, VOU Director Sachiko Soro embarked on a week long journey to New York to participate in the International Society for the Performing arts conference. Have a read of the interesting things she discovered while in the Big Apple.
As we head into this period of political unknown, where people and nations seem more polarized than ever – this is when the arts matter most….. or is it? This is one of the questions that almost 500 arts leaders from around the world were asking at the International Society for the Performing Arts conference in New York this January. Performing artists have been traditionally been seen as more open, liberal and tend towards the left wing political spectrum. Are we communicating important ideas to our society or are we just creating art in an echo chamber that is performed and appreciated only by other like-minded people. If any thing recent politics has shown us how separate ideologies can occupy the same geography and really not ever come into meaningful dialogue with one another.
The idea “the arts brings people together”, has been reiterated countless times, we all write it on our funding proposals, our websites and bio’s but is it true? Or are artists performing for each other in an isolated bubble, on a cyclical conveyor belt that confirms our own premises.
The past year has shaken the status quo so much so that it leaves me more motivated than ever to engage with people who share different view points from my own. Lets talk, exchange, collaborate. I want to reach out to new audiences who have not seen contemporary dance and establish a new shared experience and more importantly to debate, to challenge to explain.
More than anything else the arts and move and inspire the human experience.
Via the means of the 5 bodily senses, artists have the ability to tell the human story, and thus the ability to evoke empathy. From empathy can come understanding and form understanding we can then start to chip away at the fear-based rhetoric that divides and polarizes populations.
For me as an artist and director of VOU, being selected as a Global Fellow to attending the International Society of the Performing Arts congress in New York could not have come at a better time. It provided the opportunity to turn to others professionals in the arts field who are grappling with the same questions, yet operating in vastly different contexts. It was fascinating to see perspectives on arts issues from artists from Zimbabwe to Ecuador, from Egypt to down town Broadway New York. It was the best in the world, the most ‘hungry’, intelligent and aspiring artists all in a space that was open and safe to communicate our global concerns. This experience made me realise that the world is small, we all have our own versions of the same problems, so it was comforting in that regard. I left New York feeling like I had gained an extended family with a wealth of knowledge that would be there for advice and support.
And most of all I feel international meetings such as ISPA are so important for those of with the ongoing pressure of leadership in the arts field because it is a check and balance too feel reassured if we are on the right track or to motivate us to continue learning. The whole experience was so inspiring and I realise that I take my obligation very seriously as an artist because it is vital to our survival. I hope our work at VOU leaves this world a better place by shaking up and enhancing peoples mind, thoughts and perspectives.
Sachiko with other members from across the globe who attended the ISPA Conference