By Marie Belew Wheatley
Colorado Ballet, based in Denver, is about to embark on a unique community education partnership to promote awareness of the dangers of intolerance and discrimination in our community. Along with Lead Partners, Anti-Defamation League, Mizel Museum and the University of Denver, scores of participating organizations and groups will promote human rights through literary, visual and performance art, education and public dialogue. At this writing, more than 70 organizations have signed up to be community partners in Light/The Holocaust & Humanity Project.
Light/The Holocaust & Humanity Project is a contemporary ballet based on the life of a Holocaust survivor, created by Stephen Mills, artistic director of Ballet Austin, where the work premiered in 2005.
Most nonprofit managers learn by necessity that we can accomplish more by working with others than by going it alone. In a strained economy, when contributions become more scarce, particularly for arts and culture organizations, we look for innovative ways to engage others in collaborative efforts that result in a win for all involved. Light/The Holocaust & Humanity Project is an example of this kind of collaboration, positioning Colorado Ballet in the unlikely role of bringing together a broad spectrum of community organizations to rally around a purpose that we can all support. And an added bonus is exposure of the Ballet to groups and individuals who might never have had an interest in seeing a traditional ballet.
Using the arts as a springboard to convene an important community conversation about creating a safe, healthy, inclusive community, Light/The Holocaust & Humanity Project is a three-month endeavor designed to bring Coloradans together in a united front against indifference and prejudice. It is a broad collaboration that includes local arts organizations, human rights groups, schools and universities, museums, private companies, churches, synagogues, Jewish organizations, GLBT groups, women’s organizations, African American groups, and Latino organizations. These and many other institutions offer community events that address issues such as hate, bullying, discrimination, civil rights and equality.
Light/The Holocaust & Humanity Project will begin with a launch event on January 14, 2013, the week prior to Martin Luther King Jr. Day, and run through Holocaust Remembrance Week, in mid-April, 2013. Governor John Hickenlooper and Mayor Michael B. Hancock are honorary chairs of the Light Project.
In addition to Colorado Ballet’s performances of a full-length contemporary ballet based on the life of a Holocaust survivor, community partners’ involvement will include the following: plays, music, opera, book club discussions, poetry and dramatic readings, visual art exhibits, films, museum exhibits, lectures, television documentaries, radio interviews, school programs on anti-bullying, faith-based initiatives on inclusiveness, and ongoing education programs on human rights.
We believe that by leveraging the strengths and competencies of these scores of community organizations, we can create a powerful impact in school rooms, work sites, public gathering places and in homes. All communities include differences and inequities. This collaborative effort will move the needle on how we as individuals and groups accept and respond to those
differences and inequities.
Each Community Partner is being asked to set goals for the number of people they will reach with their program, initiative or activity. At the end of the project, we will report to the community how many groups participated, and how many people were reached with programs on tolerance and inclusivity.
Light will be performed by Colorado Ballet March 29-31, 2013 at the University of Denver’s Newman Center, to music from five notable contemporary composers. For tickets go to: www.coloradoballet.org. Please visit www.coloradoballet.org/Light to see the list of Community Partners, learn how to become a Community Partner and/or to peruse the community calendar of events that will shine the spotlight on discrimination and celebrate the triumph of the human spirit during Light/The Holocaust & Humanity Project.