It’s a Brock-centric group that has done arts programming in Jamaica and Japan. Now, Turnaround Projects of the Arts (TAP) is heading to India.
Dramatic Arts and Sociology teaching assistant and Brock arts stalwart Roxolana Chwaluk is heading to disaster-plagued Bhopal as a pilot project for the arts group. Chwaluk and two other volunteers will do arts programming in a clinic that serves victims of the 1984 industrial catastrophe.
If it goes well, and there proves to be a need, Bhopal could become a regular stop for TAP, which will also head to Jamaica next year for the sixth time, she said.
“Even though it’s only the first year, I see a future in this project if the people on the other end of it say ‘Yes, we want you here and we see the benefits of what you’re doing,’” she said.
Bhopal made it onto Chwaluk’s radar last year. As part of Brock Connections, a University theatre group that performs socially conscious plays at high schools, Chwaluk heard of the play Bhopal and presented it as an option to perform. The play became a fundraiser for the beleaguered Indian community.
The Bhopal tragedy happened on Dec. 2 and 3, 1984, when methyl isocyanate gas was released from a Union Carbide pesticide plant. An estimated 3,800 died from the gas release. Over the years, thousands more have died as a result of the leak. It has also caused more than half a million injuries and about thousands of severe and permanently disabling injuries.
The site remains contaminated. The community’s water supply is toxic. Hundreds use the clinic where Chwaluk hopes to help.
Workshops offered by the TAP are developed around the skills of the volunteers. In Jamaica, one crafty volunteer offered a knitting class, which proved to be wildly popular with the children it served, Chwaluk said. Other workshops have included visual arts classes, photography, and creative writing sessions.
One of the team of three is Jamez Townsend, a local artist who attended Brock. Townsend will engage Bhopal citizens to help with a mural, which Chwaluk hopes will be used for a fundraiser in Canada somehow.
The goal is to offer levity and an outlet for people affected by the disaster, she said.
“TAP offers strong facilitators in their art forms,” she said. “Whether we have one or 40 or 300 people participating, we want them to have that moment where they¹re taken away from the thought of why they’re at the clinic. If they can live in that moment with us to create a piece of art, we’ve been successful.”
TAP’s first pilot project was held in Jamaica in July 2007. Eighteen students created an integrated arts program for more than 100 Jamaican participants. TAP became a not-for-profit organization in December 2008.