By Jerry Slayton
This year Art Spark Texas is proud to have been awarded funding through the Grant for Technology Opportunities Program (GTOPs) from the City of Austin. GTOPs is a grant administered by the Community Technology division directed at improving the community’s ability to fully participate in the digital society. This shared value of community inclusion makes for a great partnership, and we feel fortunate we can offer programming with the City’s help.
Our TRUE TALES Extended classes are designed to influence the cultural perception of disability by creating storytelling podcasts and media content that promotes disability awareness. The program combines narrative storytelling with digital media arts to foster the creative expression of individuals with disabilities who live in Austin. We believe the telling of stories usually not shared with the general public can empower the next generation of advocates to challenge the misperceptions people may hold about disability.
TRUE TALES Extended is organized around a series of 3 workshops beginning in the Fall of 2022 and ending in the Spring of 2023. We’ve been fortunate to partner with AISD’s Go Project for this series of classes. The Go Project is a community-based transition program for students with disabilities who are 18-22 years of age. The program enables students to move beyond the high school setting and finish their education in a college or work environment. Through this partnership, along with GTOPs funding, over 30 students will be provided with the training and opportunity to tell their stories through the visual arts, writing and podcasting, and video animation.
First up this Fall, The Visual Storytelling and Illustration class will be held at the St. John’s Community Center. Each week Go Project students from St. John’s and Goodwill locations will participate in visual art activities with the goal of creating a final poster design that illustrates a personal story. They will learn typography, character drawing, and layout techniques and apply that to their poster. The final images will be digitized and printed large scale for all to see, as well as shared through our social media channels!
In the Winter of 2023, the TRUE TALES Writing and Podcasting class will take flight. These classes are an updated online version of our Opening Minds, Opening Doors (OMOD) public speaker training program for adults with disabilities. We combine the art of storytelling with public speaking skills, so our speakers can bring their stories to the general public and challenge misconceptions about what it means to live with a disability. Class members will have their final story be included in future episodes of our Speaking Advocates podcast, “True Tales by Disability Advocates” and may be chosen to work with an animator to have part of their story animated.
Then finally, in the Spring of 2023 the TRUE TALES Video and Animation class will launch. In this class participants will learn software and technical skills to record and animate their personal stories. Through storyboarding, illustration and eventually animation, they’ll learn the steps in production and visualize how to transform a written story into a visual work of art.
The goal of our TRUE TALES Extended classes is to give voice to and expand the presence of people with disabilities in our digital society. It is our aim to provide an opportunity for young people to share a real life, lived experience, and to tell a story that can influence how conversations about disability can be re-focused and re-defined.