National Endowment for the Arts
Kern County Board of Trade Tourism Bureau and Film Commission
The Democracy of Inclusion
THE DEMOCRACY OF INCLUSION
The Arts Council of Kern was one of only 200 organizations—out of 2000 applicants—to receive a 2011-2012 Story Project grant from the California Council of the Humanities (CalHum).
Thirteen percent of Californians have a developmental difference. In Kern County, this number increases to twenty percent—one out of every five residents.
Through state and local agencies and organizations such as Goodwill, Bakersfield Association for Retarded Citizens (BARC), Desert Area Resources and Training (DART), and Meet Your Neighbors (MYN), residents with disabilities play a role in Kern’s economy and are given opportunities to participate in the cultural life of its cities and towns.
Does this constitute a civic voice? Perhaps. But, what if this voice represents a frame of reference so “other,” so outside the mainstream, that it remains unheard, ignored or misunderstood? What do we gain as a community when this voice is active? What do we collectively lose if it disappears?
“The Democracy of Inclusion” is the working title of a 30-minute documentary that is being produced by the Arts Council of Kern, in partnership with a cohort consisting of emerging filmmakers with developmental differences, teaching artists representing a variety of genres, social scientists and community leaders.
Over a period of six months, this team will survey Kern County residents—rich and poor, urban and rural—on their perception of democracy and inclusion. The results of these surveys will be compiled and examined, but in a unique way.
Coming to our conclusions
Einstein reportedly had a sign hanging in his Princeton office that said, “Not everything that counts can be counted and not everything that can be counted counts.” In the spirit of Einstein, we will integrate artistic media (painting, acting, animation, etc.) into the process of analysis; expanding our ability to hear, understand and absorb the opinions we encounter.
The team will weave the survey results together with members’ own artistic responses and a behind-the-scenes “documentary of the documentary” to create a picture of what one county in California is doing to change the way it relates to its citizenry.
Sharing the film
“The Democracy of Inclusion” will premiere in Bakersfield in December, and be screened in Taft, Shafter, Delano, Lake Isabella, Ridgecrest, Rosamond, Tehachapi, Arvin and Frazier Park. Each screening will be accompanied by a community forum, giving local residents the opportunity to express their view, meet the filmmakers, and explore together a community response to the issues raised by the film.