|The Faison Firehouse Respect Project|
The Respect Project, created and directed by Tony Award winning Director/Choreographer George Faison, an ensemble-based arts program, provides literacy, discipline, artistic development, therapeutic counseling, mentoring and apprenticeships for urban youth.
The goals and objectives of the Respect Project are:
to develop new, original theatrical productions, emphasizing multicultural, multi-ethnic, cross-generated, and cross-gender themes with a social conscience;
to attract diverse audiences and encourage a broader range of community members to attend live theatrical events;
to create the next generation of audiences, artists, and cultural innovators by developing and presenting live theatrical performances that will involve, interest, and inspire young audiences;
to inform young people there are non-performance-based career opportunities in dance, film, music, and theater, and to broaden diversity in the greater New York theatrical community by offering young people apprenticeship opportunities and career guidance.
The Respect Project weaves together such pertinent issues as teenage pregnancy, absentee parents, date rape, racism, poverty, peer pressure, illiteracy, cultural identity, community, gang crime and violence, in a way that allows youth audiences to see their own lives reflected in a moving, intellectually stimulating and thought-provoking theatrical production which leads to further exploration of the issues and desired discourse and discussion. Through intensive workshops and personal exploration the young performers (mostly New York City high school students) create a program to help audience members discover their ability and responsibility to choose a positive life course and realize new approaches to coping with daily challenges.
The philosophical basis for The Respect Project stems from the work of Harvard professor Sara Lawrence-Lightfoot. Dr. Lawrence-Lightfoot has studied the culture of schools and attributes the violence in many schools today to an underdeveloped concept of respect. The Respect Project explores this concept through a riveting show of song, dance and spoken word that demonstrates a powerful and unique way that youth can reach out to each other and transcend their environments and stereotypical notions of their potential to make a difference in their own lives as well as the lives of others. Through collaborative efforts with other non-profit organizations and educational institutions the project has been able to sustain itself and grow.
The Respect Project
The RESPECT Project is designed to use art as a vehicle of tapping into the creativity of young people. Faison believes it is through the utilization of this creative energy one can change the world, “the man in the mirror” and affect social change. Through a comprehensive use of art, technology and interactive training methodologies, Faison takes the John Dewey philosophy of experiential education to a 21st century level. He uses his resources in film, media and the arts to introduce young people to professionals who can share their wisdom and lead them across the bridge of their present realities into a future in which they can share and access the vision of Dr. Martin Luther King. Faison uses interactive training methodologies far beyond traditional methods of on-the-job training.
Expansion of the Respect Project
The American Performing Arts Collaborative will expand its current operations into a comprehensive training model which recruits a new cycle of participants, [provide them with professional counseling, case management, advocacy, intervention, job placement and educational services. These services will be provided to low income youth at-risk of entering the penal system. The youth will be recruited from the New York City community, specifically Harlem. The RESPECT Project will be the training ground for the youth to gain access, knowledge and the experience needed to enter the world of work in the performing arts and fields which require technological and business skills. The RESPECT Project will be revamped and reorganized into a project which can provide a more comprehensive follow-up professional counseling service to insure the efficacy of the project. It will include a component which will allow the youth to be an integral part of Faison’s master production: Virtually Yours Harlem.
The program will be revitalized to maximize resources and it will hire an independent consultant team to produce an independent assessment and self-study report of its progress.