Supporting Our Community

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Children creating sounds effects in Third Coast Percussion’s Our Sonic Homes.

With the world shut down, home delivery became the new normal for everything from groceries to restaurant meals to education.

At Meany Center, we offered a varied menu to our community: full-length performances in dance and music; prerecorded conversations in which Executive and Artistic Director Michelle Witt talked with artists about their work; and informal live Zoom events where the audience could speak with artists directly. 

 

We even had a special kid’s menu to inject a little fun into the lives of young people, their families and teachers during a challenging year of remote learning.

A Really Big Deal

 

“My student who was featured (in Our Sonic Homes) was so pleased and his classmates were so proud of him and were really inspired by his playing.

 

About my student — he’s a twin and he’s the quiet twin. He’s got an IEP (Individualized Education Plan) for a few things and I sometimes get the sense that he doesn’t think of his abilities with confidence — school just doesn’t emphasize some of the things he really shines at.

 

I think it was a really big deal for him to see his music represented in that composition. And it was great for his classmates to be able to see him and his talents in a really unique and special way.”

 

                                                               — Emily Wetzel, third-grade teacher, Wing Luke Elementary School

Bang the Drum Loudly!

2020 was a difficult year for K–12 students, their teachers and their families, as education moved online, and the kitchen table became the classroom. At such a time, providing arts enrichment activities for children that were not only educational but joyful, creative and exciting was perhaps the greatest service Meany Center could deliver to our community.

In November, we presented an interactive virtual residency specifically for younger students. Playful Composition with Third Coast Percussion began with five short video performances by Third Coast Percussion, interspersed with teaching moments. The videos introduced the building blocks of music (rhythm, melody and timbre) through participation in a series of interactive activities, including clapping, singing and listening.

 

The final video, Sonic Scavenger Hunt, invited participating students to find, make and record sounds and rhythms using everyday household items and submit them to Third Coast Percussion to incorporate into a new composition.

The kids got pretty creative; the resulting composition integrated sounds made by deflating a balloon, dragging a pencil across the strings of a tennis racket, slapping together the soles of a pair of shoes, and crumpling bubble wrap, among other innovative percussive inventions.

Fittingly, the composition was named Our Sonic Homes.

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Matchmaker, Matchmaker!

Choreographer Mark Morris and pianist Angela Hewitt presented virtual work for our 2020–21 Meany On Screen season. Because they were scheduled back-to-back, we wondered if they would agree to engage in a Creative Process Conversation around their shared love of Mozart.

 

The resulting conversation was rich, informative and entertaining as the two artists, who had never met before, started out discussing Mozart and ended up agreeing they should collaborate around their shared love of the music of Bach. It was a match made at Meany!

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Lights! Camera! Closed Captioning!

In addition to presenting performances online,

Meany Center also hosted numerous Creative Process Conversations featuring artists, short documentaries and live Zoom opportunities for patrons, donors and students to meet and talk with artists on our Season.

Events like these are more accessible at Meany Hall for people with hearing difficulties, who can request an assistive listening device. But virtual presentations required something more.

 

House Manager Noah Duffy took the lead on providing closed captioning for every prerecorded feature and Creative Process Conversation that Meany Center offered. For live Zoom events, we relied on automatic captioning.

 

Our continuing efforts to become more equitable and accessible for all include an accessibility audit of our physical space, and a diversity, equity and inclusion audit of all our marketing and communications materials.