By Kevin Sninsky
A branch of the art-driven environmental awareness movement “Climate Change Theater Action” was recently hosted at Kutztown’s own Eckhaus Gallery on Nov. 7.
The event, titled “The Arts Unite Against Climate Change,” was only one in a series of many across the nation. These exhibitions aim not only to educate, but to inspire change and incite action toward global environmental issues through artistic forms of all kinds.
Kutztown’s event was lovingly organized over the course of several months by KU students Kylin Camburn and Shaun Leisher. During this time, they were tasked with finding a venue, recruiting performers, promoting the event and other duties.
The night’s presentation was delivered to the packed folding chairs of the Eckhaus Gallery in a wide variety of forms. Student and local entertainers displayed their wide range of skills as they performed pieces of all sorts, including short theatrical pieces, emotional acoustic renditions and eco-friendly prose. Some of the pieces presented were originals, others were covers and adaptations. Each, however, conveyed a similar message: “The Earth needs us. Take a stand.”
Near the end of the festivities, the performers took a step back from the spotlight as the Eckhaus Gallery fell silent. The hosts of the evening proceeded to introduce the more informative portion of The Arts Unite Against Climate Change event. It was at this time the guest speakers of the evening, Lynn Alexander and Karen Feridun, took center stage.
Alexander spoke to guests about her work at the Nature Nurture Center and the goals she and her team strive for at the facility located in Easton, Pa. Members of the organization aim to aid communities in understanding the environmental issues that can affect them in their area, as well as the political and cultural implications of these issues. These efforts are all done through the use of art, science and dialogue.
Feridun, the night’s main speaker, visited from Berks Gas for Truth. BGFT is a community grassroots organization fighting for the protection of clean air and clean water resources in the Marcellus Shale. Feridun used her time in front of the crowd to speak about some of the environmental issues the area is currently facing and the best actions citizens can take against them. She then opened the conversation to the rest of the room, inviting others to join in on a related Q & A portion. The room filled with chatter once more as this portion ended and performers and attendees convened in a brief intermission. During this time, visitors were welcomed to a wide selection of snacks and a room full of friendly conversation.
Artists took to the stage once more following the break as they performed the last few pieces of the night. Those who attended the event returned to the world not just as citizens, but eco-warriors empowered with the tools to make a difference.