Addressing Cultural Differences Through the Arts

Storytelling, Creative Writing, Puppetry, and Music

by Mary Shamrock | Aug 31, 2010
1 read | 2 Comments

Summary:

This project will utilize storytelling, creative writing, shadow puppetry, and music making to address cultural differences, including race, with 6th grade students (four classrooms) at FAIR (Fine Arts Interdisciplinary Resources) School in Crystal. FAIR addresses cultural differences through mythology, music, and folk traditions to illustrate to students that many differences that seem to pose obstacles to greater understanding and cooperation are merely unique cultural responses to the same human needs and concerns. In this project, three visiting artists--one Asian, one African American, and one American Indian--will introduce the students to stories from their own heritages. Students will use these stories to develop their own variations, expressing their own concerns. The guest artists will assist in beginning this process, with the sixth grade teachers following up. Stories will be selected for dramatization as shadow puppet plays. Indonesian gamelan music will be developed to accompany the plays. Gamelan playing requires no previous background so is accessible to all students, regardless of experience. The development of this musical capability will be carried on parallel to the story development). Throughout the process, teachers will revisit the issues portrayed, the feelings generated, and how these can be dealt with in real life. These puppet dramatizations will be presented for all other school classrooms and the greater school community, with time for discussion included. Finally, they will be recorded and then posted on YouTube or a similar site.

About You

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About You

First Name

Mary

Last Name

Shamrock

Title

Executive Director

Organization

Sumunar: Indonesian Music and Dance

Country

United States, MN

About Your Organization

Organization Name

Sumunar

Organization Email

Organization Website

Organization Phone

612-729-6737

Organization Address

1313 5th St. SE, Mail Unit 111

Organization City

Minneapolis

Organization Zipcode

55414

Brief description of your organization

501(c)(3) non-profit, organized 2002. Sumunar mission: to promote understanding and appreciation of Indonesian music, dance, and culture through performance and education. Music director: Joko Sutrisno; dance director: Tri Sutrisno. Educational program includes school residencies, workshops, and community classes. Regular performances by the Sumunar Gamelan and Dance Ensembles.

Organization Country

United States

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Your idea

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Name your project

Addressing Cultural Differences Through the Arts: Storytelling, Creative Writing, Puppetry, and Music

Country your work focuses on

United States, MN, Hennepin County

Describe your project. Explain the extent to which it mitigates the effects of racism

This project will utilize storytelling, creative writing, shadow puppetry, and music making to address cultural differences, including race, with 6th grade students (four classrooms) at FAIR (Fine Arts Interdisciplinary Resources) School in Crystal. FAIR addresses cultural differences through mythology, music, and folk traditions to illustrate to students that many differences that seem to pose obstacles to greater understanding and cooperation are merely unique cultural responses to the same human needs and concerns. In this project, three visiting artists--one Asian, one African American, and one American Indian--will introduce the students to stories from their own heritages. Students will use these stories to develop their own variations, expressing their own concerns. The guest artists will assist in beginning this process, with the sixth grade teachers following up. Stories will be selected for dramatization as shadow puppet plays. Indonesian gamelan music will be developed to accompany the plays. Gamelan playing requires no previous background so is accessible to all students, regardless of experience. The development of this musical capability will be carried on parallel to the story development). Throughout the process, teachers will revisit the issues portrayed, the feelings generated, and how these can be dealt with in real life. These puppet dramatizations will be presented for all other school classrooms and the greater school community, with time for discussion included. Finally, they will be recorded and then posted on YouTube or a similar site.

Project starting date

November 1, 2010

Project ending date

December 15, 2010

Total project budget - required field

$12,526

Website URL

Innovation

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What makes your project unique?

Students will be engaged daily, during the course of the project, in considering the implications and results of cultural differences, including issues of racism, integration, and equity. The initial story material will be introduced by the guest storytellers. Currently we plan to engage the following artists for this phase: Tri Sutrisno, Asian; Nothando Zulu, African American; and Rabett Strickland, American Indian. Then students will develop stories based on this material but incorporating their own ideas and experiences. Students will be encouraged to submit material anonymously, if they prefer not to be identified. The 6th grade teachers at FAIR are very familiar with the process of story development with their students; however, this project will differ in its in-depth exploration of cultural differences.

Through previous experience, FAIR 6th grade teachers are also familiar with the skills and processes needed to create and handle shadow puppets, and in managing students through extended dramatic projects of this nature. As one area of his expertise, Sumunar music director, Joko Sutrisno, will oversee the puppetry aspect. However, his main task will be the development of sixth-grade musicians who will supply gamelan music for the dramatic presentation of these stories. This process itself is a challenge in cultural difference, as Indonesian music is considerably different in structure and sound from what students are familiar with. After a period of exposure and practice, most students are able to make the subtle shift necessary to identify the rhythmic and melodic structures of gamelan music and achieve a level of understanding and appreciation of what they are playing. This experience itself can be an analogy to the responses we hope they will be able to make later in life when encountering strange aspects of a different culture. We believe it is critical to educate students as early as possible in these issues in order to make a significant impact.

Impact

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Tell us about the social impact of your project as it relates to ONE of these three areas: Education, Employment or Housing

The entire project relates to education, since it will be carried out with sixth grade (four classrooms) at FAIR School in Crystal and culminate in a sharing with the greater school community. The project is directed toward influencing attitudes and behaviors of the students involved, as participants and observers, for their forthcoming school life at FAIR and throughout their lives thereafter. FAIR is not a highly integrated school. Since its inception FAIR has tried to attract a more diverse student population, especially in order to reflect the diversity of Minneapolis, its largest member district. Toward that end this school year the 4th grade is 50% minority.The 6th grade class in 2009-10 included the following (total 566 students): American Indian, 1.4%; Hispanic, 4.8%; Asian, 5.5%; African-American, 24.2%; Caucasian, 64.1%. With a relatively minor representation of students of color, the issues of cultural diversity, including racism, can easily slip into the background. Since most of the students are likely to live in predominantly white neighborhoods, the Caucasian students probably have little need to deal frequently with issues of cultural and racial difference. A project of this type may be especially important for these students, since the arts offer a somewhat "neutral space" for issues they may prefer to ignore or can be frightening to confront. The impact will be shared with the entire school through presentation to all other grades (K-5, 7-8). Beyond that, videos of the presentations will be shared publicly through posting on YouTube or similar site.

List any specific activities associated with the project and a timeline for the activities

PLANNING MEETING, mid-October: 6th grade teachers with the 3 visiting storytellers. Selection of stories, planning for sequence of development.
EQUIPMENT PREPARATION, late October: Movement and set-up of gamelan instruments to FAIR School. Purchase of supplies needed for puppetry.
INTRODUCTION OF STORIES, early Nov.: The artists (separately) will visit the 6th grade classrooms to introduce the stories and initiate discussion about the issues involved.
DEVELOPMENT (November/December): Sixth graders in groups engage in the musical dimension of the project, learning to play gamelan music under the direction of Joko Sutrisno.
In parallel activity, students develop their stories, the scripts for dramatization, and the puppets for presentation.
CONCLUSION, mid-December: Assigning rolesfor presentation of the selected stories (puppet handler, musician, narrator, etc.), rehearsing the presentations, sharing them with the greater school population. Recording them on videotape for public posting.
Again, the problems to be addressed by these stories and presentations: the effects of cultural differences, including racism--particularly in America, but as it exists worldwide.

Please summarize the involvement of people of color in the decision-making of your project

From Sumunar: major involvement of the artistic/music director, Joko Sutrisno, and Asian storyteller, both Asian (Indonesian). Approval of board members (Asian=2 out of 9; counting 4 advisory members, 6 of 13)
From FAIR: African American: Kevin Bennet, principal; Martha Grimes, PE teacher, Channing Jones, theater teacher, Anthony Galloway, Choice Is Yours coordinator. Asian: Lily Johnson, media assistant.

Please list which communities of color your project will involve and/or impact

While the FAIR student/parent body is predominantly white and African American, it is hoped that the ideas addressed and developed in this project will reach significantly further through changed student attitudes of all ethnicities at the school and through media tools such as YouTube. The goal is to develop a much more personal regard for the effects of cultural differences, including race.

What age group will your project impact?

Children (0-12 years), Teens/adolescents (13-19 years).

Which gender(s) will your project focus on?

Male, Female.

What geographic area(s) will your project affect?

Twin Cities Metro Area (specify below).

If you selected either Twin Cities Metro Area or Other above, please specify or identify the area

FAIR draws 50% of students from the greater Minneapolis school district and 50% from 9 suburban areas

Sustainability

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What stage is your project in?

Idea phase

If your project is a collaborative effort, please list the other organizations involved

Fine Arts Interdisciplinary Resource School (FAIR), K-8, Crystal, MN
There is now a five-year history of residency collaboration between FAIR and Sumunar. Each year the sixth grade has done a study of the country and culture of Indonesia, complimented by learning Indonesian performing arts: gamelan playing with Joko Sutrisno, dance with Tri Sutrisno, plus interpreting stories through Indonesian-based shadow puppetry. The present proposal continues this tradition but with the focus from the outset on exploring cultural differences, including race. The foundation is expanded by including storytellers from African American and American Indian traditions as the basis for project development.

Contact: Jennifer Hanzak, 6th grade teacher. 763-971-4588 jennifer_hanzak@wmep.k12.mn.us.

Who or what is expected to change as a result of your project?

Through the activities of this project students will gain an understanding that people of all races are more alike than we are often led to believe, that cultural differences are unique responses to basic human needs pervading all cultures. Through involvement with these varied cultural responses, students will learn to be less fearful of the differences that frequently are used to divide us.

What information will you provide in the final report to demonstrate the achievement of your results?

Sixth-grade students will be asked to respond, in writing, to questions included in a project questionnaire.
Sixth grade teachers will discuss the process and results of the project, and develop a group written response.
Parents and audience members will be asked to complete a questionnaire.
The school Arts Coordinator and Principal will be asked for a written response to the project.

What methods will be used to gather the information?

With students, and to a lesser extent with audience members, a questionnaire with questions such as: 1) What did you learn about cultural differences that you didn't know before? 2) How will this experience change your behavior with persons of a different race from yourself? Teachers and administrators will respond to efficiency and effectiveness of the process as well as achievement of goals.

What do you hope to learn about racism and its impact?

We look forward to learning from the initial stories and student stories about effects of cultural differences we might never have encountered or thought about. We hope that participants and viewers will come to realize that cultural differences make our world a richer place, and that exposure to these differences can help eradicate the ignorance that is often the basis for racism and conflict.

What percentage do people of color comprise your board of directors?

Immediate board (9 members): 22.2%. Including advisory members (2 artistic directors+2 additional): 46%. All of color are Asian

Documentation

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Funding sources: Please check all that apply

Individual donations, In-kind donations, Foundations, Earned revenue, Local government, State government.

Other

In submitting this application, the applicant agrees to the following (check all boxes)

The applicant will spend the money solely for the purpose stated in the grant award and will return the unexpended portion of the funds, if any. In addition, the applicant will provide an interim and/or final report, as required., The applicant realizes that payment of funds will be at the convenience of the Foundation. The Foundation reserves the right to cancel the grant and/or modify previously agreed-upon payments should such actions be deemed necessary by the Foundation., The applicant understands that the Foundation may review any or all information submitted as part of this request with advisors of the Foundation’s choosing, if deemed necessary by the Foundation., The applicant intends to comply with the terms of the Minnesota Charitable Solicitation Act (MS §309), if applicable..

Martina Yusay said: It was a nice project that they had planned. I hope it will have a best result and to make this better. - Scott Safadi about this Competition Entry. - 1970 days ago read more >
pois sullivan said: The human motivation to make art is general. Art has been has been an approach to convey convictions and express plans regarding the ... about this Competition Entry. - 1977 days ago read more >

Mary Shamrock updated this Competition Entry. - 3063 days ago

Mary Shamrock submitted this idea. - 3065 days ago