If you see Red in the next few weeks, you may see members of Berkeley Rep’s Teen Council in the lobby with buckets and blue plastic bracelets bearing the phrase: ClaimyourARTS. These bracelets are a fun gift for those who support the School of Theatre’s ClaimyourARTS initiative, which is sending 10 Teen Council members to Washington, D.C. and Boston to advocate for arts education.
The initiative began on February 12 when the School of Theatre hosted a teen arts-advocacy conference, which sought to excite and educate Bay Area teens about arts advocacy. Negi Esfandiari, one of the teens who will be traveling to Boston as a Teen Council representative, writes about her experience at the conference below.
Despite dictionaries, people often tend to create their own definitions of words. It depends on what they associate that particular word with. Take the word “claim,” for example. In the dictionary, it is listed as a verb for “asserting or stating that something is the case.” Most people will argue that this definition is perfectly adequate, but to teens in a little place they call Berkeley, it means much more.
On Sunday, February 12, a group of 60 teens from around the Bay Area came together to celebrate, to advocate, and most importantly, to claim their arts in the School of Theatre at Berkeley Rep. Now let’s explore the definition of “arts:” the various branches of creative activity, such as painting, music, literature, and dance. Although this is correct, any of the teens who attended this event would meticulously argue that the arts couldn’t possibly be adequately defined by a mere dictionary entry.
The event day was split into many different activities. There were games of jeopardy about arts advocacy facts and statistics, advocacy obstacle courses and scavenger hunts, and debates in which teens argued seriously, and also not seriously (because no one believes in budget cuts!) about issues involving the arts in the economy.
All of these activities put the creative imaginations of teens to work. Before the debate section, teens were asked to draw out a storyboard of a PSA they thought would accurately depict how important the arts really were in schools, and also to them personally. There were a large variety of different aspects of art presented in each of these PSAs, ranging from music and dance to acting and painting, and they all related to education as well. Teens voted on which PSA they liked most in their teams, and one team won the prize of having their PSA produced professionally.
The winning PSA depicts students walking through a school with pieces of tape over their mouths. They march monotonously through hallways in a dim world. They make their way to the drama classroom, where, next to the doorway, there is a trash bin where the teens are tossing out the tape. As the world brightens and the students engage in various arts activities, they encourage viewers to:
“Claim your education. Claim your voice. Claim your arts.”
To support Negi and her nine fellow advocates, you can donate at http://www.berkeleyrep.org/teenconferencefund/ or after performances of Red.
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