Intrepid Theatre Company Launches Refugee Art Project in San Diego

In response to the current political climate and the tensions that have developed in the wake of the election, Intrepid Theatre Company announces two major decisions that will affect programming in the upcoming year.

Intrepid has partnered with San Diego Unified School District to create a timely community outreach program, Exiled Voices: The Refugee Art Experience, at Crawford High School in City Heights.

Over the course of this past year, 2338 refugees have resettled in San Diego, many of them children. Research shows that integrating the refugee population into a new culture can be challenging, especially for the young. There is uncertainty as to how or if there will be social assimilation in community environments, such as schools and workplaces. There is also concern with regards to the social acceptance of this population within the community. As tensions have heightened in the country, we have seen an increase in violent activity as well, much of which has manifested in racial hate crimes targeting marginalized communities, in particular the immigrant and refugee populations. There is an immediate need for increased protection of our local refugee families. An increase in cultural awareness has a direct impact on improving racial tolerance and understanding and contributing to the safety of these families.

Exiled Voices: The Refugee Art Experience will be implemented in partnership with the San Diego Unified School District's International Centers and SAY San Diego, an organization that supports refugee families by providing resources and access to services. Through these partnerships, Intrepid Theatre Company will offer an arts outreach program that pairs refugee students with local artists - dancers, painters, playwrights, poets, composers - to introduce a collaboration where the artist creates a piece of public art inspired by the refugee student and any stories he or she may share about the resettlement experience or home country. The resulting artwork will undergo three phases: a public performance, a school tour and a touring art installation.

Phase One (January - March 2017)

Beginning in January, over the course of ten weeks, students and teaching artists will embark on a one-on-one collaboration where the artist will learn about the resettlement experiences of the student. The information provided by the student will inspire a piece of artistic work, with full process involvement and final approval from the student. The intention is to shed light on the experiences of the student in a respectful and supportive way, while educating the community about the experiences of this population.

The collaboration process between teaching artist and refugee student will be overseen by trained facilitators with an emphasis on language support and addressing any trauma processing needs of the students. Bridget de la Garza, facilitator of the SDUSD Children & Youth in Transition Department and Secretary of the San Diego Refugee Forum and Lucia Acevedo from SAY San Diego - Crawford Community Connection will help oversee the project and ensure facilitators with a deep cultural competency are present during the process.

The artwork resulting from this collaboration will be performed or displayed alongside an explanation in the student's words of the origin story of its inspiration in a public performance at the Horton Grand Theatre in downtown San Diego on March 12, 2017.

Phase Two (April - June 2017)

From there, the art pieces will be transformed into a school tour that will travel throughout San Diego County, with lesson plans and activities prepared for classroom instruction surrounding the school performances. There will also be opportunities for witnessing students to create their own responsive art, with selected pieces incorporated into Phase Three. Additionally, the originating students will have the opportunity to accompany the tour and participate in conversation around the artwork with other students.

Phase Three (June 2017 - July 2018)

Subsequently, the art pieces will be transformed into a touring installation available for cultural centers such as libraries, community centers, senior centers, hospitals and schools. This installation will include video footage of performed art pieces and also incorporate selected pieces of the response artwork of the witnessing students. Originating students will continue to have opportunities to participate in conversations and talkback discussions as the art installation tours the County. Intrepid will also create an accompanying website where viewers can respond in real time to the installation and learn more about the refugee immigration process as well as impending legislation affecting the refugee population.

Intrepid Theatre is interested in taking the power of theatre to promote understanding and harnessing it to serve the refugee students of our City. We will tell the stories of this community of students in a public forum so that, as our community makes decisions affecting immigration and borders in the coming years, we may all better understand the communities most directly affected by these decisions.

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