A panel of artists came together with the Desmond Tutu Center for Peace, Reconciliation, and Global Justice on Friday to talk about the art of peacebuilding. Though not each panelist is an expert in the same art form, they all have something in common; they recognize the power of art and its success in peacebuilding. Art is something that transcends borders, ethnicities, and religions. This was demonstrated by Matthew Boulton, the president of and a professor of theology at the Christian Theological Seminary, when he simply sang the word “take” and the entire audience joined in and sang “Take Me Out To The Ball Game” together. Though many of us didn’t know each other, that simple song brought us together for a short period of time. Other panelists were Michael Williams, the Butler University Department of Theater Christel DeHaan Visiting International Theater Artist and an accomplished opera director, Dr. Siobhan McEvoy-Levy, an associate professor of political science at Butler University, as well as community members Ben Asaykeww, Justin Wade, Patrick McCarney, Alex Zaslav, Alec Stubbs, Julia Lloyd, and Alex Schooling. Each has experience in theater, dance, music, visual arts, or comedy, and each told a personal story of peacebuilding through the arts. Wade is the Executive Artistic Director of the Young Actors Theater in Indianapolis that reaches out to the community’s youth to give them an experience in the arts and keep them from turning to violence. Asaykeww is the artistic director of Q Artistry, and wrote a play for veterans dealing with PTSD, addiction, and physical difficulties to perform, giving them confidence and the chance to be seen as human beings. Each of these experiences has been very powerful for those involved, and has really made a difference in people’s lives, especially for those living in conflict.
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