By: Holly Bonner, MPA, MSW, CASAC
Director of Education & Training, IlluminArt Productions
The holidays have come and gone and a New Year is upon us. IlluminArt staff has no intention of slowing down as we gear up for our 2016 performances and our annual event fundraiser, Empowering Voices. As we continue the arduous task of preparing for this unforgettable night on January 10th, 2016, it got me thinking…
“Why does IlluminArt call this event “Empowering Voices?”
IlluminArt’s programs touch so many people on so many different levels. It’s like peeling back the layers of one gigantic, creative onion. Our Touring Company members “empower voices” through the messages conveyed in their acting. Whether it’s a performance of Peace Up discussing the tough topic of bullying in schools or a scene from Sometimes I Just Want Ice-Cream about moving on beyond the death of a loved one; our actors breathe life into the characters they play. The result is a thought provoking performance for students, teachers, and administrators that begins a bigger conversation on how to help kids cope with these tough social situations. Our Touring Company have “empowering voices” because the words they speak from our scripts translate into usable, practical knowledge that can be harnessed into everyday life.
Our audiences find “empowering voices” after watching IlluminArt’s performances. Many students want to learn more about the topics we discuss. During our question and answer period at the conclusion of each of our shows, kids courageously share their own experiences with the cast and their classmates. For those children who choose to remain silent, IlluminArt’s presence in their school is an opportunity for administrators to reiterate integral support staff that students can go to and seek additional help, counseling or resources. Our audiences find their voice. They become empowered.
The diversity of IlluminArt’s programming allows our Teaching Artists to work with different populations. For example, the same Write-A-Play Program is utilized in elementary schools and with students at Wagner High School. IlluminArt’s ACTive Adult Program works with senior citizens to help them create a narrative of their own unique life stories and translate them into scripts to perform for their peers. Our programs “empower voices” because our Teaching Artists show participants how to draw from their own imaginations and life experiences to create narratives with universal messages.
Finally, IlluminArt gains strength by surrounding themselves with people who share our vision and promote empowerment within the Staten Island Community. This year’s honorees include Bobby Digi, President & CEO of Island Voice, Ralph Vogel, Executive Director of the Pride Center of Staten Island and Mohammed Hussari, Petrides High School Senior & IlluminArt Program Alumni. Our Outstanding Ensemble Award will be presented to Wagner High School Theater Students. IlluminArt is also honoring the Staten Island Foundation for their generous support of our theatrical programming. Each of our honorees uses their voice to empower the Staten Island community within their professional organizations or through their own theatrical endeavors that impart IlluminArt’s message to others.
As we welcome 2016, we hope everyone touched by IlluminArt’s programming finds a way to become empowered by using their own voice. Be the change you want to see in the world. Harness your own unique creativity and make your mark in the Staten Island community. Be brave! Be bold! Be you!
We hope to see all of you at the Staaten on January 10th, 2016 as IlluminArt Production’s presents “Empowering Voices.” Come see for yourself. Trust me, you won’t be disappointed and you’ll most definitely leave feeling empowered!
Get tickets now!