Putting Art at the Center of Our Social Change Efforts

Posted on August 10, 2021
By Megan Nimigon

When we look at the social change sector as a whole, there is a growing awareness of the importance of art in engaging the hands, the heads and the hearts of the people who are looking to make positive transformations in their communities. Yet, some people still see the inclusion of art in these spaces as a creative activity, an add-on or a way to ‘inspire’ people before getting down to doing the ‘real work.’ But what if I told you that art has more power than we’ve been giving it credit for? What if art isn’t a ‘nice-to-have’ but a ‘must-have’ when it comes to making an impact on the challenges we face today?

When we work on complex issues it is often not the activities or tasks that keep us from our progress. But rather, the deeper more relational aspects of working together as humans that challenge us. We struggle to build trust across a diverse group of people gathered together to make change. We struggle to understand the complexity and nuanced experiences around an issue so that we focus on what matters most. We struggle to find effective ways to meaningfully engage a group of people – all with different agendas and backgrounds – to feel heard and inspired to participate in creating a better path forward together. We struggle to elevate the wisdom of those living the issues being explored and to tailor our strategies based on real life experiences.megan nimigon heart hands

That’s where art comes in.

After years of coming across these struggles in the social change field, I created Theatre for Good. Theatre for Good focuses specifically on using theatre-based exercises (drawn from Theatre of the Oppressed and Theatre for Living) to break down the barriers between us and explore an issue through the diverse real life experiences of the people in the room. We spend time using our voices and bodies to play, to create images, to reflect and to tell stories that illuminate the complexity of the issue we’re exploring. Through this, trust and connections form. Assumptions get challenged. We start to see transformation.

If we are to make real headway on the challenges we face today – poverty, racism, climate change, reconciliation to name a few – we must open ourselves up to different ways of connecting and understanding each other and the world we share. We must tap into our inner wisdom and open ourselves up to others’. If you’re working with a group to create social change, I invite you to consider putting art at the center of your next community project.

Here’s a few ways to get started:

Youth, Collaboration, Communities Building Youth Futures, Youth Engagement, CBYF Blog, Homepage Blog

Megan Nimigon

By Megan Nimigon

Meg Nimigon is a Team Synergy Coach helping remote and hybrid teams create dreamy team dynamics and culture (without going into the office). She draws on her unique background as an applied theatre practitioner, an online learning creator, and her love of mindset management to help teams uncover the challenges that are holding them back and co-create solutions that build team resilience and a more joyful and productive work environment for everyone.

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