Art Revival Connection TOHOKU (ARCT)—Arts Programs: Senior Citizen and Artists Learning Together
Location: Sendai, Miyagi Prefecture
Grant: ¥2,000,000 (approx. US$24,700)
The Japan NGO Earthquake Relief and Recovery Fund has made a grant to ARCT, an arts group active in the disaster recovery in Miyagi Prefecture. Among other things, this grant enables ARCT to create and host one or two participatory programs each month for five months at two senior citizen facilities in the city of Higashi-Matsushima, and it also supports the performances of a 20-person theater troupe that consists of senior citizens from Sendai, which was also struck by the disaster. This was made possible through funding from the MetLife Foundation and other donors.
Just weeks after the March 2011 disaster, a group of artists in Miyagi Prefecture established ARCT to assist in the revival of the cultural personnel, communities, and spaces that were lost as a result of the Great East Japan Earthquake, to contribute to the recovery efforts in Tohoku through the arts, and to promote network-building within the community. The organization has been surveying the damage done to cultural facilities and the cultural needs in the community. It then attempts to match artists and performers to those who need them, providing customized programs accordingly. They also hold special classes to help artists improve their skills and offer them venues in which they can discuss how to promote regional theater, how to revitalize efforts to express the local Tohoku culture, and other issues.
One key activity of ARCT has been to organize cultural events at two large senior centers in Higashi-Matsushima in order to give the residents and other senior citizens from the area who survived the tsunami an emotional release and keep them intellectually and physically active. The programs—ranging from theatrical performances and concerts to Thai dance lessons—are also designed to encourage the types of interactions that help strengthen community ties that have been strained in the aftermath of the disaster as more than 300,000 people in the region remain in temporary housing.