Mutual Productions offers innovative arts based programming that is designed to engage communities. The focus is on acknowledgment of the impact of the HIV/AIDS pandemic and the development of community based educational tools which foster communication, responsibility, and action.
Project partneships have been undertaken in Canada as well as Central/South America and Africa. Projects activities are based in an inter-sectorial approach, which encourages increasing collaboration between community based programs, health programs, and the arts.
The projects have four components: 1) participatory program planning and evaluation which engages community stakesholders, 2) organizational capacity building and skill development, 3) community based HIV/AIDS awareness programming that incorporates popular education and participatory theatre techniques - three metre puppet construction, presentations by community leaders/elders, story creation, song writing/drumming, performance, etc. 4) production of communication tools for large scale dissemination - video, radio, television broadcast, website.
In the collaborative development of story lines, the health factors involved in HIV/AIDS transmission are examined as well as cutural, social, political, economic, and gender issues. Puppets give puppeteers permission to explore deeply, yet feel emotional safety as a result of having the distance of being in character. Situations that are part of the social fabric, but are often without voice, are brought into the open through both the comic antics and the serious tones that these giants embody. The fact that giant puppets are visually stunning, employ art forms from music to myth, break the barrier of the printed word, can be presented in local languages, and engage emotion as well as reason ensure they provide a powerful spectacle. We acknowledge grief - and hope - collectively.
The intention is to foster an awareness of the impact of the HIV/AIDS pandemic locally and globally and to address the personal and social stigma: which prevent individuals from engaging in safe and safer health practices, which isolate those infected and affected by HIV/AIDS, which slow the response of leaders and public officials in efforts regarding policy and funding. This is accomplished through projects with community members - from youth to elders, non-governmental organizations, government bodies, universities/colleges/schools, faith based groups (all faiths/practices), media, business, and artists in Canada and internationally.