MicroFest/Artists Spotlighting the World As It Is and the World As It Should/Could Be
In the context of chronic issues such as poverty and prisons and in the aftermath of the “Katrina-related federal flood,” Carol Bebelle attributes New Orleans’ distinctive creative impulse as essential to the city’s recovery and resurrection. Bebelle traces a continuity of theater practice in New Orleans that is conscious and intentional in its storytelling and gives agency to promote personal redemption and social justice—from Junebug Productions’ work on issues of race and class, to the work of ArtSpot Productions in Louisiana prisons. She also notes a continuity of cultural activism demonstrated by artists’ attention to environmental racism including: Mel Chin’s Fundred project and the Louisiana Bucket Brigade’s ongoing Art-to-Action strategies with communities along New Orleans’ industrial Cancer Alley. Bebelle sees there is still work to be done to get artists and culture bearers regularly working deeper inside systems, such as Kids Rethink New Orleans which melds the creative practice of Theatre of the Oppressed with a youth development approach to increase the capacity of public schools to serve students better. Bebelle asks artists and culture-bearers hard questions: Can we honor the values of community—whatever they are? Can we be good partners even when we believe we know better than “they” do? How committed are we to continuity? How do we make space in the evolution of our work for the giants upon whose shoulders we stand?