We are living in a time where extremism is all around us. I regularly peruse news articles from around the US and around the world. Each day, the mainstream media puts out more and more articles that reinforce the notion that our world is become more extreme, more radicalized, more irrational. And these articles cloud perception and reinforce tropes of who is worthy and who is not worthy; they are used to justify horrendous inhumane acts and policies.
An answer to the ever polarizing press and inhumane policies is to train a new generation of creative extremists, the folks that see the world differently, cultivate creativity, and will go to extreme lengths to challenge and change perception. And that's exactly what CAT'S Got Talent is all about: cultivating and showcasing talent; AND learning some concrete, transferrable skills.
Over the next four months, I will be working with CAT senior (and 14 Black Poppies intern) Hilda Herrera to teach an event production and curation course at City Arts and Technology High School to four to six seniors that will result in a school-wide Talent Showcase in January 2014. Students will learn curation, production cycles, audience engagement, vlogging and blogging, event hosting, and marketing and outreach. These skills are crucial to cultivating creative extremists. They also just so happen to be incredibly employable skills.
The challenge facing students today is multi-faceted: How do we cultivate passions while also building employable skills? For far too long, education has bifurcated passion and employability. CAT'S Got Talent is an experimental response to this challenging question. It seeks to show young creatives that a way forward is to hold fast to core values while finding jobs that support them financially so they can continue building platforms on street corners, on stages, in schools, and in virtual space to showcase their talents and the talents of their peers.
And event production and curation is the perfect skill set for these young, creative extremists.
Recently, I had the pleasure of working for Adobe as part of their bi-annual Adobe Youth Voices Summit. I was the lead counselor, and I supported a team of counselors ranging in age from 20 to late 30s. This job, which was only one week, was creative, passionate, and paid well. I had to use all of my skills in creative extremism -- logistical planning, listening, creative content creation, clear and direct communication, and conflict mediation -- in order to be successful. And it was a HUGE success.
Thanks in large part to the Summit, I made enough money in one week of work to pay my bills AND to get seed money for 14 Black Poppies fifth season. And as 14 Black Poppies is all about showcasing creative extremists, the money I made goes directly to cultivating talent!
I want youth to have the same access and opportunities I have. That's what I hope to teach in CAT'S Got Talent, that is the change I wish to see in the world: employed creative extremists making enough money to also support their passions and values.
Stay tuned for more coming from CAT'S Got Talent, including our official INDIE-GOGO FUNDRAISER, which launches on THURSDAY, SEPT 12.