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Sunday, June 9, 2019

Video Playlist: Building Community Through the Arts

last updated September 22, 2020

posted by Catharine Hannay

Here's the latest in the popular series of video playlists for teachers and teacher trainers. This time, the focus is on how the visual and performing arts can be used to help us empathize with other people and join together to serve our communities. 

As always, I've included a variety of perspectives; use your own best judgment about what's appropriate for your students and context. And scroll to the end of the post for suggested questions you could use as prompts for discussion or reflective writing.

"The mantra of the Dallas Street Choir is “homeless, not voiceless.” Some 2,000 singers have passed through the group in the last five years, seeking support, artistic expression and community as they contend with life on the streets. The organization also aims to raise awareness of Dallas’ growing homelessness problem, even as the city’s economy booms.

Through explaining about her own work, Hilary Cox Codron shows how an artist can benefit her community.

Marquese McFerguson (who's taught middle school, high school, and university students) explains how poetry and storytelling can help us to see through each other's "sunglasses". He worked with a group of young Asian American men to tell their stories through poetry and film.

Black Forest, an indie band from Singapore, performs with percussionists from the organization ExtraOrdinary Horizons to challenge perceptions of d/Deaf youth.

The Raw Beauty Project

The Raw Beauty Project uses photography to change the perception of women with disabilities.

[No Longer Available]

These dance projects involve students with disabilities collaborating with students from the general education program.

The Trans Chorus of Los Angeles empowers trans, gender non-conforming and intersex people to discover, develop and use their voices.

Donald Davis' father taught him that how we tell the story of our challenges can change how we think about ourselves.

Artists For Humanity's mission is to bridge economic, racial, and social divisions by providing under-resourced urban youth with the keys to self-sufficiency through paid employment in art and design.

Dancing Grounds teaches youth through movement, creative writing, social policy analysis, and leadership development.

Artist/Activists, or 'Artivists,' raise awareness of social issues in their communities. (You may also be interested in a brief video about Ugandan artist Arthur 'Mr. Art' Mugume, who uses his paintings to promote social change, and gives back to the community by teaching at a local kindergarten.)

A thought-provoking encounter with an audience member helped spoken-word artist Marcus Ellsworth  understand that telling his truth is a powerful act. (Here's the link to the 'City without Tears' music video he mentions.)

Kids living in a slum built on a landfill in Paraguay create an orchestra made of trash, The Recycled Orchestra, and tour the world.

Questions for Reflection and Discussion

Here are some suggested questions for discussion or reflective writing. As always when leading a class or group, please respect participants' wishes about how much they choose to share publicly about their opinions and experiences.

  • Which of these groups or individuals (if any) did you identify with? Why?
  • Which of these groups or individuals (if any) did you find it hard to understand? Why?
  • Do you agree that the arts can help us empathize with others? Why or why not?
  • Do you believe that visual and performing artists can play a positive role in their communities? Why or why not?
  • Have you ever participated in a group or project similar to what you saw in these videos? How was it similar or different?
  • Is there an arts-related project that you would like to begin, or get involved with? What type of support would you need for that to happen?


related posts: 

Mindful Moments in Nature (includes a mindful art project)

Activities for Exploring the Five Senses

Thought-Provoking Videos about Empathy, Compassion, and Service

Video Playlist: Using the Arts to Teach Mindfulness

Sign Language (ASL) Song Playlist on Mindfulness, Compassion, and SEL