Sing Your Way To Cleaner Water

There was an interesting TED conference video about the power of arts to drive social change from a November session in India. I have seen performance pieces that deal with sexual assault and violence before, but the speaker, Mallika Sarabhai, shows examples of using skits and songs to advance public health concerns. In this case, to teach people to filter their drinking water through clean cotton cloths folded eight times.

Some of her examples are polemical, but after finishing her first piece she points out that a performance about a controversial topic is a lot more palatable than walking in the room and announcing that you are going to talk about the controversial topic. She argues that social leaders who strive for change need to harness the universal language of the arts to bring it about.

My favorite quote: “You have treated the arts as the cherry on the cake. It needs to be the yeast.”

About Joe Patti

I have been writing Butts in the Seats (BitS) on topics of arts and cultural administration since 2004 (yikes!). Given the ever evolving concerns facing the sector, I have yet to exhaust the available subject matter. In addition to BitS, I am a founding contributor to the ArtsHacker ( website where I focus on topics related to boards, law, governance, policy and practice.

I am also an evangelist for the effort to Build Public Will For Arts and Culture being helmed by Arts Midwest and the Metropolitan Group. (

My most recent role was as Executive Director of the Grand Opera House in Macon, GA.

Among the things I am most proud are having produced an opera in the Hawaiian language and a dance drama about Hawaii's snow goddess Poli'ahu while working as a Theater Manager in Hawaii. Though there are many more highlights than there is space here to list.


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