Three Invitations (to save the world)

Adam HorowitzThis article has been written by Adam Horowitz as he considers Artistic Innovation. Here he plants three thought experiments, in this case delivered to those attending a national theatre conference, but equally applicable to us all.

We theater-makers often have a hunch that we’re out to save the world. Let me indulge that sense of heroism for a moment, and suggest that what’s at stake at the 2013 TCG Conference is nothing less than the future of humanity. You’ve been invited as a visionary leader, and, like a League of Nations summit or a UN Convention, the outcomes of this gathering will change the course of humanity, for better or for worse.

What then will you choose to do? How will you innovate and toward what end?

At its best, I believe that theater can strengthen social imagination and expand our collective circle of care. Perhaps what’s at stake, then, is the future culture of humanity. Culture precedes politics, and we are shapers of culture. What kind of culture(s) are we out to create? What if this gathering of the TCG community in Dallas could be the historical moment that ushers in the paradigm shift from a consumer culture to a creator culture – the gathering that forges not a creative class but a creative society? Lofty? Yes. But why aspire to less?

Here’s why these may be worthy stakes and challenges:

This is a century in which broken systems will have to be rebuilt – from health care to food security, energy to education. More than ever, citizens need not only to be able to navigate rapidly shifting social, economic, and environmental climates, they need to be able to conceive of and take part in the creation of new systems. MIT Professor, Otto Scharmer, has called this dawning era the age of the “co-creative economy,” characterized by “awareness-based collective action” and fueled by “cultural and creative capital.” In order to prepare our citizenry to be effective co-creators of emerging systems—systems that are more aligned with basic human values and needs than our current ones—we must provide universal access, from a young age, to empowering collaborative and creative experiences that cultivate empathy and imagination. We will have to spend time on the playground of  Joseph Beuys’ “social sculpture” and take on the role of Augusto Boal’s “spectactors.” We will need STEAM, not just STEM. And we will need theater-makers to bring imaginative, collaborative thinking to city government, social change organizations, schools, streets, and beyond, in ever greater numbers.

If what’s at stake is the future culture of humanity, then what happens at this conference must extend beyond the conference and, also, beyond theater circles. Doing so will require not just innovation, but somehow bringing that innovation to scale.

for the full article visit:

About Adam: Adam S Horowitz is a self-declared “projectician”—a collaborator and instigator of border-crossing projects rooted in storytelling, cultural exchange, and social change. At Yale University, Adam directed an experimental theater ensemble, conducted interviews with visiting artists for the World Performance Project, and wrote an award-winning ethnography on performance and immigration in New Haven. Adam is a founding team member of The Future Project – a national education initiative to reinvigorate public high schools by partnering students with community members to build passion-inspired creative change projects. Adam lives in Brooklyn and is currently barn-raising the United States Department of Arts and Culture.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *