Creative Forces

Location:  New Orleans, LA
Project Description: 

Creative Forces uses the transformative power of the arts to stimulate positive energy, ideas, and information among children, youth, and families in the Greater New Orleans Metropolitan Area and beyond. The model program of the Crossroads Institute for Art, Learning & Community engages at-risk high school students, ranging in age mainly from 14 to 18, in meaningful work and life-skills development through a comprehensive annual cycle of music theatre productions, training workshops, special events, and paid apprenticeships and internships. Students who are part of the Creative Forces ensemble write and produce their own plays, songs, dances, and spoken word pieces that teach and inform the New Orleans community of the urgent social and educational issues that affect them. So far, students have created three works aimed at younger audiences. Lifelines is a play that addresses the issue of teen asthma. Drumtime is a West African drumming workshop conducted by the Creative Forces ensemble that engages youth in cultural, kinesthetic, conceptual, and cooperative learning as it teaches them the scientific equation for speed. Wake Up Call to Health is a touring educational variety show for children ages 8 to 14; the hour-long mix of theater, music, poetry, and dance engages and entertains children while teaching them the importance of having healthy diet and sleeping habits. Silence Speaks, engages audiences in an exploration of the roots of violence in our society. The piece, which integrates original theater, spoken word, and song, runs 20 minutes in length with a 25-minute long “talk back” where Creative Forces Peer Educators engage the audience in discussion around the issues presented in the work. Creative Forces is in the process of expanding its program from one to four New Orleans high schools. This expansion will be accompanied by the institution of: 1) A six-week integrated arts, workforce development, and civic engagement program that teaches students the basic skills and values of ensemble theater; 2) A four-semester program that engages 9th and 10th grade students in holistic arts-based learning at the end of each school day; 3) A Pre-Professional Company for 11th and 12th grade students who excel in school and Creative Forces activities during their first two years of high schoo;l 4) Senior Projects and Fellowships to help Creative Forces Company Members in their final semester of high school deepen and extend their school-to-career transition. Artists associated with this project include: Jeremy Baptiste, Cortheal Clark, James Evans, Aminisha Ferdinand, Sonali Fernando, Luther Gray, John Grimsley, Michaela Harrison, Monique Moss, Dwayne Sherman, and Ray Vrazel.