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At its Annual Meeting on June 23 from 4:30-6:30pm at the First Unitarian Church, Ithaca, the CRESP Center for Transformative Action is launching 'Performing Arts for Social Change' as a new strategic initiative.  Cynthia Henderson, creator and co-founder, will give the keynote address, speaking about the origins of Performing Arts for Social Change, its wide-ranging applications, and the recent performance of Ithaca High School students, called 'Voice Suspended.'

Excerpts from 'Voice Suspended" will be shown, and students will speak about the impact it has had on them and on the larger discussion of racism in the schools. In addition, CCTA Project members will share about their social justice work and its transformative nature. All 12 Project Partners* will have displays in the adjacent Parlor Room.

"The purpose of this work is to give a forum to those who are often not heard," Henderson writes.  "The performances are of them and from them--their words, their experiences. The basic rule of the projects I create is that if the incident didn't happen it doesn't make it to the stage. This kind of theatre, music, and dance performance is low budget and can happen anywhere. It can be done in a theatre, gym, classroom, town square, prison, common area, or outside in a field.  I have worked with elementary school children in under-funded schools, with gang members in New York City, with incarcerated youth in Auburn, NY, and women's groups in Cameroon.

"Topics have included AIDS education and women's empowerment in Central Africa; poverty, violence, and powerlessness in New York City; and racism in upstate New York.  I use this form of performance to get people to think, to hear what too often remains silent, and hopefully to encourage them to find ways to create necessary change within their society.  As a venue for transformative thought and action, Performing Arts for Social Change is a useful and potentially powerful initiative for the Center for Transformative Action."

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