Mission

CAT MISSION
Creative Arts Team uses theatre strategies to engage, inspire, and educate.
 
The mission of the Creative Arts Team is to contribute to the growth and wellbeing of its participants by identifying and responding to as many facets of their personal, social, and educational needs as is possible and appropriate to address through the medium of theatre and the related conventions of participatory drama.
 
Implicitly, this mission contains a complementary commitment to develop and disseminate, locally, nationally and internationally, the pedagogy and methodologies on which the work is predicated; and to work with, train, and otherwise support the many adults who share the lives of the young people either in personal or professional capacities.
 

VISION STATEMENT
It is the vision of the Creative Arts Team that from generation to generation, whether directly or indirectly, it should touch the lives of every young New Yorker; and that beyond the boundaries of New York City it should become established as a national center for applied theatre, and recognized as a world leader in the development of applied theatre theory and practice.
 

ARTISTIC AND EDUCATIONAL PRINCIPLES
It is the vision of the Creative Arts Team that from generation to generation, whether directly or indirectly, it should touch the lives of every young New Yorker; and that beyond the boundaries of New York City it should become established as a national center for applied theatre, and recognized as a world leader in the development of applied theatre theory and practice.
 
The work of the Creative Arts Team is based upon the following artistic and educational principles:

  • Applied theatre/ educational drama is both an aesthetic activity and a powerful medium for change that can illuminate all aspects of human experience
  • Applied theatre/ educational drama is ideally suited for the development of self-knowledge, emotional maturity, creativity, critical thinking, decision making, advocacy and communication skills; above all it is a collaborative and social activity
  • Cultural activity, particularly theatre/drama, is able to portray problematized visions of reality in complex, dynamic, provocative but entertaining ways which pose essential, challenging questions about our individual and social selves and encourage the formation of a critical relationship to our world
  • Applied interactive theatre techniques and education drama provide individuals with unique opportunities to be actively engaged as both the subjects and objects in the learning process
  • The main emphasis of our work is on learning through theatre rather than about theatre, but there is no essential dichotomy between the learning that can arise from participation in the creative process, and the understandings that can be engendered by an encounter with pre-prepared forms and content, particularly where the presented work embraces a participatory relationship with the audience: the educational principles are the same, though the activities and the time-frame they inhabit may vary
  • The most effective education occurs when people recognize the need to learn and perceive the relevance the content of study has to their own lives
  • Education is an holistic process of discovery, and should not be narrowly defined in terms of outcomes; it should actively engage the whole person, both cognitively and affectively: the same is true for art
  • Teachers (including actor-teachers) have the responsibility to stimulate and structure this process; they should offer leadership, guidance and challenges, but not presume to give the answers
  • The most productive relationship between teacher and student is one of co-intentionality: the teacher and student engaged on a journey of enquiry together, both open to learn from the other
  • In the co-intentional relationship the experience of all participants should be understood and validated: it is therefore essential to acknowledge and actively engage with the different perspectives that accompany differences in gender, sexuality, ethnicity, class and culture
  • The diversity of the many groups that CAT serves should be reflected in the composition, culture, processes, and priorities of the organization itself
  • The relevance of knowledge is most apparent when it is applied, and the most profound understanding emerges from practical experience
  • The unity of teacher and the artist exists in the shared commitment to question received truths, stimulate curiosity, provoke critical responses to the experiences of lived reality, and encourage the search for creative alternatives to those manifestations of individual and collective behavior that inhibit the development of full human potential and prevent the achievement of happiness
  • The artist-educator should constantly strive to develop effective and relevant forms, processed and content to meet the changing needs of the audience; the work should be of the highest possible artistic and educational standard; renewed challenges and training for the artist-educator are essential.

 
 LIBERATORY EDUCATION
 
Liberatory pedagogy is predicated upon a commitment to engage students in a critical examination of the world and their relationship to it. The practical goal is to enable them to increase the degree of control they exercise over their own lives. A consistent first step is to have them take control of their own learning. To help facilitate this we, as teachers, need to recognize, value and validate the varied experiences of the individualized students. These experiences should play a central role in the pedagogical process by which the students are challenged to think critically and to make their own meanings from the world around them.
 
This process also requires us to re-evaluate the role of our own experience, knowledge and values, and the ways in which they permeate our relationships with our students. If we believe we know all the answers, can we genuinely offer them the opportunity to find their own? And if we insist on controlling the entire educational process, can we honestly expect them to develop the practice of freedom?
 
The Brazilian educationalist, Paulo Freire, poses these challenges very concretely. In the following passage he contrasts the features of a liberatory educational model with those of a banking model. In the banking education model the teacher acts as the source of knowledge and treats the student as an empty bank in which that knowledge is to be deposited: capital to be spent later!
 
Which of the practices and attitudes of banking education that Freire lists do we, collectively or individually, exhibit in our work?
 
"The raison d'etre of libertarian education ...... lies in its drive towards reconciliation. Education must begin with the solution of the teacher-student contradiction, by reconciling the poles of the contradiction so that both are simultaneously teachers and students.
 
The solution is not … found in the banking concept. On the contrary, banking education maintains and even stimulates the contradiction through the following attitudes and practices, which mirror oppressive society as a whole:

  1. The teacher teaches and the students are taught.
  2. The teacher knows everything and the student knows nothing.
  3. The teacher thinks and the students are thought about.
  4. The teacher talks and the students listen - meekly.
  5. The teacher disciplines and the students are disciplined.
  6. The teacher chooses and enforces her choice, and the students comply.
  7. The teacher acts and the students have the illusion of acting through the action of the teacher.
  8. The teacher chooses the program content, and the students (who were not consulted) adapt to it.
  9. The teacher confuses the authority of knowledge with her own professional authority, which she sets in opposition to the freedom of the students.
  10. The teacher is the subject of the learning process while the students are mere objects.

 
Chris Vine
Artistic & Education Advisor, CAT
Academic Program Director, MA in Applied Theatre
 

CUNY

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101 W. 31st Street, 6th Floor, New York, NY 10001 | (212) 652-2800 | info@creativeartsteam.org



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