SARAH AHMAD | 23 JULY, 2019
The Voice of Art: Slam Out Loud
A not-for-profit helping children from disadvantaged communities find their creative voice
We are living behind doors, those dark mimics of life – solid, cracked, wounded, yet alive. We fluctuate between notes of hope and despair, a moment of ecstasy, a moment of agony, yet we go past every door, through every door, and hide behind the one we choose, like a cat curls up on the front porch of a house. We curl up, we find comfort, create our space within spaces, craft out our enemies, embark on adventures, protect our doors, only to be knocked down in those moments of trial; we then open the doors, to love, to wit, to hope, to an endless will to live against all odds. We become voices, although cracked in places, still standing together to echo what we believe in, staging a voice for those whose voices are unheard, whose self is broken, and hearts have surrendered to bullying wounds. In this tireless pursuit of life, we become facilitators of love.
Did you look at the dehydrated earth, and then at the sky – which was almost blue, you then took out a sheet of paper to paint the sky; only when you dipped the brush into damp blue paint, the sky turned ginger, and black clouds came flying in to the auburn above, to turn lightning into thunder and thunder into a constant drizzle. You then painted hope on that piece of paper – the hope for rains, you painted joy and shared that quick moment of joy, hope, ecstasy, with a few – and only when you diffused this moment of happiness – hope flourished. You are a quiet voice of joy, a pacifying space to influence others through what you do.
Just like blank pieces of paper wait for blue skies to be painted on and empty spaces wait for doors to open to life and drama, the not-for profit Slam Out Loud, based in Delhi, has opened galaxies of art, to become arenas of change and hope. It believes art could trigger positive emotions, it could speak and through its creative paths, art could help in finding a voice. Slam Out Loud works with and around the vision that “Every individual will have a voice that empowers them to change lives.”
The transformative power of performance and visual arts is applied to enable children from disadvantaged communities to find their voice through creative expression. Co-founded by Gaurav and Jigyasa in 2014 as a means to foster voice in children and empower them to see the world a little differently, making them aware of the issues confronting their communities and how they could use their voice as stimulants to bring change, give way to a more inclusive society and highlight long standing problems.
Having a voice is a collective call on behalf of those whose voices have been taken away – by circumstances, people and governments. It is an antithesis for hate, for fear – a Voice is Life – the best kind. Yet, many voices have been compelled to believe that they don’t matter, that they would not make a difference. It is right here that Slam Out Loud, through its many art-based programs plays a significant role to create a more hopeful and brighter tomorrow. Visual arts, storytelling, theatre and poetry come together in this narrative as agents or proponents of change.
Slam Out Loud through its many projects has given rise to an army of confident, beautiful minds, creating, speaking and spreading awareness through art. She came in as an under-confident 10-year-old girl, yet she soon started writing poems and performing the same in her class at weekly workshops by Slam Out Loud, by the fourth year she was a TEDx speaker and a published poet. This is the story of Supriya, one of the many children Slam Out Loud has supported, giving her the confidence to lead an art project and bring a positive change in her community.
“From my own experiences as an artist, I would say that art helps channelise our creative energies into synergy,” says Seep Agrawal, Program Associate at Slam Out Loud. “I strongly advocate for the collective rise in consciousness that art helps us inculcate and the work we do at Slam Out Loud is driven by this central narrative: of creating an ecosystem built on integrating arts into education so that young individuals can be agents of change.”
The Jijivisha Fellowship is a significant program led my Slam Out Loud where several trained artists are placed in low-income classrooms every year, the artists become the advocates of creative change. The year-long fellowship culminates in a creative showcase at the end of the year. The initiative aims to make art a central and pivotal place to trigger hope and create avenues of freedom. The teachers become strongholds of creative voices influencing children from disadvantaged communities to find their voice through the power of art. Art becomes a communicator – communicating our differences, our similarities, our socio-political problems, our joy, an opinion, a voice.
Enabling access to quality arts education resources through tech-based platforms and facilitator training, Voice for All is another noteworthy program as part of Slam Out Loud’s pursuit to drive goodness, creativity and confidence through art. On-ground organisations such as Pratham are implementation partners; the program emphasises an interactive, vernacular and user-friendly interface, culminating into community led Art Melas.
Art engulfs us with its quiet power to instigate emotions, it pours over sheets of paper, it dances in dramatic verses, it speaks through gigantic halls, drenching us with the ability to speak our mind, accepting what we give it – cloudy hues, loud buoyant sounds, absurd words of love. It exudes the potential of change – when we cover white sheets of paper with colour, of freedom – when we write sonnets on our beliefs, of love – when we influence hundreds of other voices to speak through mini narratives on life. The silence in these voices waiting to paint, to twirl, to love, to scream, to bathe in the transforming shades of passion, and imagination. Through notes, brushes and a million poetic thoughts in our mind, we become campaigners of freedom and unhindered, boundless art.
Learn more at SlamOutLoud.com.