Eyes To See: When Public Policy Meets Art

3 mins read

When public policy meets art perhaps our eyes can be opened to see what we did not see before.

This is a running theory of mine.

HE[ART]LAND Arts KC, which mobilizes performance art for social change, has a project underway that is testing that theory in a way.

The 2022 HE[ART]LAND Fellowship is a 12-week workshop that began in February and will run through May. Over the course of 12 weeks, artists have been learning about public policy as it relates to houselessness in Kansas City. They’ve taken that knowledge and translated it into performances ranging from sketch comedy to kids books, poetry and original music.

If you were lucky enough to attend the second showcase of the fellowship program in early April, which was hosted by the Housing Authority of Kansas City, you would have experienced artists peeling back the layers of Kansas City’s housing policies, revealing sad realities and injustices.  

The audience experienced a range of emotions from sorrow evoked by a poem to laughter sparked by a skit to inspiration in stories and songs. Sometimes it takes pieces of art to slow us down and cause us to take note of things that have been right in front of our faces all along.

It isn’t easy to overcome houselessness. Not everyone is privileged enough to maintain permanent housing. And none of us are immune to housing disasters – whether they come through acts of nature or economic downturn.

As the HE[ART]LAND Fellowship highlighted these truths, Micah 6:8 came to mind.

“And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”

Micah 6:8

In a world filled with people who are all too often willing to ignore truth in favor of ignorant bliss, seek justice. In a society that still assigns a great amount of shame to those who have or are experiencing houselessness, show mercy and love. And as you navigate life with any privileges you have been blessed with, walk humbly and use them well.

HE[ART]LAND Fellowship will host another showcase on April 30. Find more information about HE[ART]LAND Arts KC at https://www.heartlandartskc.org/.

You can also experiences some of the Fellowship’s work at 10 a.m., May 15 during Engage South KC’s worship service at the Arts Engagement Foundation (20 E Gregory). The Fellows will present their work in response to a word from Isaiah 58.

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