Namaha Foundation for the Arts recently hosted an online event called, “One World.” This San Ramon, California based non profit organization works towards bringing artists from all genres and cultures together! The foundation is an arts group put together by Artistic Director of Ushanjali School of Dance, Naina Shastri and her Senior Students from the dance school. Thank you to the Namaha Foundation and Naina for the invitation to be a keynote speaker. To learn more about this wonderful foundation, events or to learn how to support it, please click here.
The following is the keynote address I shared for One World on June 27, 2021. The Role of Art in Bringing People Together and Building Bridges.
I’m honored to be with you today in celebration of the multi ethnic performance called “One World.” I want to start out by sharing a secret with you. Perhaps, it’s one of the best kept secrets of our time, but my hope is that you will go out and share this secret far and wide. I know, I know, …it won’t be a secret anymore if you all go out and share it, but this is one secret not to keep. In fact, it’s been a secret for far too long. Now more than ever, our community, our country – our world needs to know it.
In a time where there seems to be such divisiveness in our world, felt right down to the core of our own communities, when our inner circles grew even smaller due to the pandemic. Where outlets like social platforms kept us in contact, but lacked much on an authentic connection we craved. In a time where we seem to talk at one another instead of to one another, where judgements easily creep into minds. Where emerging from life in a pandemic has left us all with wounds to heal, some of which –those anxieties and issues still not even realized. Art now has an even bigger role to play in our daily lives.
Art! Yes, Art. If we truly want a stronger world, we must create a bridge to art, not walls.
Art binds us together. Culture strengthens the character of communities. The Arts are an important way for people to come together through meaningful, shared experiences. Art literally brings us together- at galleries, performances, events, festivals and culturally through our commonality, shared stories and connections. This type of binding transcends our differences and celebrates the uniqueness of this experience leaving imprints of not only belonging but uniting us.
Art helps us empathize and rear compassionate leaders. The arts uplift and inspire- opening our minds, hearts and even pocket books! We can’t deny the financial impact that the arts have in the state of California alone–according to The Americans for the Arts, in 2019, it was a $804 billion industry. That’s a large opportunity for bridge building!
So here is the secret. The special sauce. The key to building bridges and bringing people together…Learn how to embrace diversity by little daily actions that build up to a more enriched world~
- Welcome people into your circle of varying beliefs and thought practices
- Enroll in dance class
- Listen to a music artist your child or your neighbor likes
- Learn to say hello in another language
- Be open to listening
- Cook for others– sample a food you’ve never had from a county you have yet to visit
- Take a trip to a museum
- Attend a concert
- Volunteer backstage for your local community theatre group
- Paint in the park
- Learn about the land you live on
- Advocate for access to arts programing regardless of your zip code
- March in a parade or protest that isn’t “about you,”
- Inspire leadership to mirror the aesthetics of towns by reflecting those who reside in
the community and beyond
- Ask questions
- Read more books and read far less comments online.
It’s essential that we create space in our lives not only for the Arts, but reserve a space for our humanity.