jueves, 11 de julio de 2013

Entry # 10: RESEARCH PAPER: "Art: A Potential Bridge To Inclusion".

Graphic organizer:

Andrea Fares
Professor Saubidet
Language and Written Expression 4
July 10th

Art: A Potential Bridge to Inclusion
Firm Steps towards Inclusion through Art.

The conjecture that certain areas of expression, such as art, should be inclusive, has obtained international momentum these past years. During the last decade, we have experienced the so called “globalization of inclusion” and such inclusion, now seen as a priority matter, has placed itself in the agenda of most politicians and educators as a symbol of departure from normative thinking. As a matter of fact, inclusion was intended to produce the political change that integration could not. Promoting full diversity in certain areas of art has proved to be essential for the successful inclusion of the excluded population. Social inclusion, in particular, is being seen as a key to the vitality and dynamism of certain art-related institutions such as theatres, cinemas, TV channels and the film industry itself, as they promote authentic dialogue about race, culture and disability that embraces the complexity of underlying social and historical issues. However, as evidenced by the everyday experience, those areas of art aimed to promote inclusion have a negative impact and reach the unexpected target of segregation, which was the departure point. Further integration policies should be considered and put into practice in Argentina to make both art and integration arrive successfully to the intended aim.
There exist certain measures already taken internationally that could be considered in order to increase physical and programmatic accessibility. A good example of this is the case of the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts In the USA (LCPA), where a new position has been created to control and be responsible for the Accessibility and Visitor Services. This position is responsible for overseeing physical and programmatic accessibility for people with disabilities, including visitors, artists and employees at the various venues and offices. Deeply knowledgeable about issued related to disabilities, the successful candidate will coordinate and collaborate with colleagues across departments to create an inclusive environment for all visitors. With experience in not only physical accessibility but also a strong familiarity with programmatic access in cultural spaces, the successful candidate will seamlessly integrate access precepts into programs and services LCPA offers.  Furthermore, said candidate will enhance community outreach and marketing efforts by partnering with individuals as well as social service, cultural, and other relevant organizations to raise awareness about and seek input on LCPA’s existing and future accessibility programs.  This includes overseeing internal and external advisory councils. As a key contributor to the larger Visitor Services (VS) team, the individual will have a superior guest care ethic and be able to seamlessly a commitment to seeing people as individuals and not as stereotypes integrate accessibility efforts into the larger guest care initiatives.  Adaptability, determination and follow-through are important characteristics of the successful applicant as well as a demonstrated ability to successfully lead cross-team collaborations.
Another important key issue is related to the things actors should know about race on stage. It is almost impossible not to “see race” in the performing arts. The centrality of vision in theatre structures almost every aspect of the production process. For example, headshots exist to enable a good, long look at a person before any hiring commitments are made. Here are three things that everyone should know about theatre and race. In the firs place, Theatre has engaged the topic of race relations since the very beginning. Throughout history, concerns and anxieties about race and cultural difference have been expressed on the stage. In ancient Athens, audiences sat in theatres and delighted in stories about the unchecked passions and seeming inferiority of foreigners. Look at that Cretan woman trying to seduce her half-Amazonian stepson! Shakespeare capitalized on anxieties stemming from the increased presence of Moors in England by imagining “black” characters—Aaron and Othello—who sleep with white women. Fifty years ago, Lorraine Hansberry famously staged the emotional toll that racism can have on a family in “A Raisin in the Sun.” David Henry Hwang, for much of his playwriting career, has used the theatre to challenge racial assumptions and stereotypes. More recently, race looms large in the Pulitzer Prize-winning writings of Bruce Norris (“Clybourne Park”) and Ayad Akhtar (“Disgraced”). In the second place, It’s okay to “see” race on stage. When we encounter someone or something for the very first time, we pay close, close attention to just about everything. We take in all of the details. It’s natural. However, as that person or thing becomes more familiar to us, we begin to overlook and even forget many of the attributes that we could not help but notice in our initial encounter. Similarly, spectators pay close, close attention to the opening moments of a play with the aim of making sense of this new world being unveiled to them. To see that Tony Award-winning actors Cicely Tyson and Audra McDonald are African American is simply a matter of being observant. As the play progresses, spectators become less conscious of an individual actor’s race as the performer melds into her role and the audience becomes absorbed into the world of the play. A person can “see” and, later, “not see” race within a single production. Finally, there exists and implicit rule that is Absenting characters of color, absents artists of color. Aspiring playwrights and screenwriters are generally taught not to specify the race of their characters—unless a character’s race is consequential to the dramatic narrative. The aim is to create the greatest flexibility in casting and to increase the odds of the work being produced. Since it is impossible to imagine a person as being race-less, the default assumption is that most unspecified characters are white. Although producers, directors, and casting agents have discretion in the person who they hire to work on a production, they frequently begin with a script that absents people of color. Actors of color lament the  limited number of roles created for them. If not for the writings of Luis Alfaro, David Henry Hwang, Regina Taylor, and August Wilson among others, many artists—including directors and designers of color—would not be able to make a living in the theatre. These are individuals whose employment options are determined, in part, by their race and how they are seen within the theatre industry.
Empirical evidence has shown that some theatre companies and some film directors have included disabled people in their projects. Inspired by the 1920 Lon Chaney silent film of the same name, "The Penalty" is the story of a legless criminal who has sworn revenge on the doctor who wrongfully amputated his legs as a child. The late playwright, John Belluso once said, ‘that to be disabled, was to always be on stage.’ As a person with a disability (He was born with spastic cerebral palsy), he is constantly dealing with people’s gazes in his every day life and managing that negotiation between seeing and being seen. For him, the awareness of how that could translate to acting was in 7th grade when for the first assignment in his Speech & Drama class, he chose to perform Mark Antony’s, “Friends, Romans, Countrymen…” speech from Julius Caesar. ‘Suddenly, people were looking at me differently and I realized that through performance I could to some extent control my audience. That was how I entered this world but my reasons for staying have since evolved´, he added. (qtd. In Belluso).
Current projects to encourage inclusion through art include programs that support the ever-expanding mosaic of diversity and inclusion in theatre, film, television, and related media. However, there are still a lot of measures to consider and subsequently apply. Among the projects already taken by the United States of America, there are five that clearly evidenced inclusion and which could be taken into account in order to design local measures in our country. One of the projects was called  TCM “The Projected Image: A History of Disability in Film”. Presented in collaboration with Inclusion in the Arts, Turner Classic Movies (TCM) dedicated the month  of October 2012 to exploring the ways people with disabilities have been portrayed in film. On behalf of Inclusion in the Arts, Lawrence Carter-Long joined TCM host Ben Mankiewicz for The Projected Image: A History of Disability in Film. The special month-long exploration aired Tuesdays in October 2011. Another project was the Advocacy, Consulting & Information Program. Inclusion in the Arts maintains relationships with artists, producers, directors, casting directors, agents and unions in theatre, film and television, and related media.  They promote and facilitate cultural diversity at all levels of production.  Inclusion in the Arts also serves as a resource for funding agencies, educational institutions, the media and the general public seeking information and background on these issues. Services range from acting as a sounding board and expert consultant for companies dealing with these issues, assisting writers with ideas, providing specific language for casting notices and/or program notes, to facilitating and/or participating in project-related discussions and/or events. The Disability/Accessibility Initiative, a subset of the Advocacy/Consulting and Information Program, directly addresses the fact that nearly 20% of Americans (56 million people) have a disability of some kind, yet this largest minority is seriously underrepresented in American arts and entertainment. The third proposed project was the  Audience Expansion Initiative. Thanks to the partnership between Inclusion in the Arts and G-PASS, 1.1 million New Yorkers and 56 million Americans with disabilities will have the opportunity to enjoy more Broadway shows than ever before. The Broadway Accessibility/Audience Expansion Initiative sets a new standard for collaboration between producers and accessibility specialists at all stages of production. The fourth project was called DEAL: Disability in Entertainment and Arts Link. It is a project of Inclusion in the Arts dedicated to the full inclusion of people with disabilities—physical, developmental, intellectual, and sensory—in all sectors of American arts and entertainment.  DEAL was expressly created to serve writers, directors, producers, technicians, network and studio executives, casting directors, and disabled artists at every stage of the creative process—from development of the initial idea through production, marketing, and public presentation. Another project was A Conversation About Disability”. On April 18, 2006, a group of writers, actors, directors, and filmmakers gathered at HBO headquarters in New York City to discuss how to write about disability today.  The conversation focused on how to create authentic portrayals of disability.  The panel discussed what distinguishes authentic portrayals from clichéd, symbolic, or token representations of disability.  Panelists characterized disability as a minority “whose stories had not been told,” and emphasized the natural connections between disability and other social issues (poverty, race, sexuality, family).  Finally,  the National Diversity Forum was created. Inclusion in the Arts’ National Diversity Forum (NDF) is comprised of Roundtables, Resource Events, and Opinion Pieces.  The purposes of the Roundtables and Resource Events are to a) deepen dialogue and expand understanding of diversity through candid and constructive discussion; b) spark change toward more inclusive standards and practices; and c) build an expanding group of leaders in the field committed to resolving the issues related to racism and exclusion.
It can be then summarized that art is a key element for obtaining inclusion in our increasingly exclusive society. Citizens, actors, directors, producers and artists in general should be aware of this concern and involve into a commitment to seeing people as individuals and not as stereotypes. In the light of such a concern, it  has been evidenced that avoiding employment options being determined by race has proved to be one of the short-term measures to be taken. As in the case of castings and performances, greater flexibility should be applied and race should not be specified when selecting an actor or creating a role. On the other hand, the roles of actors and their subsequent compromise are essential to this goal. They should express their concerns and anxieties about race and cultural difference as much as they can, both through their acting and through their actions every day. Finally, local governments and the National Government itself need to set the path for inclusion, taking care of every possible obstacles regarding accessibility to public places such as theatres, cinemas and venues and should provide their employees with the necessary training courses as far as guest care ethic and accessibility services are concerned.

Works Cited
Belluso, Juan. "3 Things Actors should know about race on Stage". Alliance for Inclusion in the Arts. http://inclusioninthearts.org/still-more-of-our-parts-opens-today/ retrieved June 13th, 2013.
Graham, Linda. J & Jahnukahen, Markku (2011)  "Wherefore art thou, inclusion? Analysing the development of inclusive education. "Finland and Alberta. Jornal of education Polcy, 26 (2), pp. 263-288..
Gunn, Samuel. "The Public Culture of the Victorian Middle Class.Y Manchester. Manchester University Press. (2000) Print
Gordon, Sindy. "Still more of  our Parts opens today! "  http://inclusioninthearts.org/still-more-of-our-parts-opens-today/ retrieved June 13th, 2013.
McRae. Daniel. "The Integration/Inclusion Feasibility". NSW Department of Schools Education (1006) Print.
Northway, Robert. "Integration and Inclusion: Illusion or Progress in Services for Disable People?" Social Policy and Administration (1997). 31 (2), 57, 172
Young, Harvey. "3 Things Actors should know about race on Stage". Alliance for Inclusion in the Arts. http://inclusioninthearts.org/still-more-of-our-parts-opens-today/ retrieved June 13th, 2013.

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