Shanti Arts for Action: Artolution in India

In 2016, an array of artists, institutions, children, college students and local residents participated in a series of Artolution community-based public art projects in cities across India, encouraging youth empowerment in order to address critical social issues in their communities. Children and adults in slum areas discussed sensitive topics of gender inequality and child labor, culminating in the creation of colorful murals; public performances of dance, music and theatre; and the “Foundstrument Soundstrument” project, in which youth constructed a giant percussion instrument made entirely of repurposed trash, which they permanently installed as a community sculpture.

Through arts-based programming, street children dreamed of a future of hope. Young people who had suffered trauma re- envisioned their lives. A town suffering a human trafficking epidemic raised awareness for this issue and took a stand against stigmatizing survivors.

In Mumbai, students created a mural addressing gender-based violence and female empowerment, which became a hit when it was displayed at the Kala Ghoda Arts Festival, where it was viewed by thousands of art lovers. These projects demonstrate the power of community-based public art to provide a platform by which those who are accustomed to feeling like victims of their circumstances become advocates of positive social change.

Over the course of three months, this Artolution series engaged hundreds of participants in Delhi, Mumbai, Siliguri, Kolkata and Chennai. In each location, local artists and educators co-facilitated projects with international artists, learning from one another and sparking dynamic cross-cultural exchanges. Based on this transformative experience, we aim to continue this work by developing sustainable arts-based programming in India. Thanks to our partners who made the 2016 series a success: Give a Hand Foundation, Meridian International Center, Vidya, Mumbai Smiles, Karunalaya, Safe City, the US Consulates in Mumbai and Kolkata, Shakti Vahini, Kid Powered Media and the Birla Academy of Arts and Culture.

Click on any photo to begin slide show: