Culture, Community, and Inclusion

Inclusion, diversity, equity, and accessibility (IDEA) are important to support in any avenue of society, particularly in the performing arts. These industries shape public ideas about cultural identity and expose audiences to ideas, conflicts, and discourses they may not otherwise encounter in their daily lives—or at all. Because performing arts like ballet, opera, movies, and theater play such an important role in how people understand the society they live in, it’s essential that productions engage with all images and forms of human existence. Did you know one in five Americans identifies as having a disability that spans all ethnicities, genders, and ages? And according to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), disability is even more common in women (1 in 4) and minorities (3 in 10). So where are their stories? This past summer if you saw Maumee Valley Civic Theater’s (MVCT) production of The SpongeBob Musical directed by Jeffrey Tonjes and Amanda Tonjes, you would have found two talented-creative individuals singing, dancing, acting, and helping backstage. Inclusion inspires underrepresented youth to be fearless and be themselves. Children and young people can be profoundly affected by what they see in movies and

plays: for better or for worse, one production can plant powerful ideas in their minds. Particularly because the mental health of kids and teens is so susceptible to what they see on their screens—social media, movies, TV, and drama—it’s all the more important to populate young minds with narratives and actors they can identify with and relate to.

Dedicated to making our theater an inclusive model of diversity at every stratum, on stage and off, MVCT invests in the new as we keep abreast of our changing and challenging times. We do this to ensure that our theater is a responsive gathering space, all the while nurturing and producing art of the highest order. You can listen to Caty and Lydia’s interview with Dave Kleck from WNDH 103.1 on their website.