The Human Arts Collective, founded in March 2020, brings together an arts community with a multidisciplinary focus. This company has brought artists together from all around the world to virtually collaborate, connect and cultivate change despite the constraints of COVID-19.
Founded by Artistic Director Jamie Lynne Lazan, then joined by Lila Klatz and Jarred Okosun, The Human Arts Collective (T.H.A.C.) is a virtually built, humanitarian arts company. Ms. Lazan spoke about its mission. “Our work promotes individual growth through a collaborative framework. As a multimedia production company, we focus on expressive arts and the meld between theatre, media, and creative writing. We create a bridge for art, healing, and education as we interface with the expanding global arts community. We utilize our social media platforms to curate original content that promotes transformative experiences and paves the way for diverse voices. We are utilizing the power of story; implementing workshops, retreats, productions, and arts education that inspire younger and older generations alike. Along the way, we are crafting energized, fun artmaking centered around the human condition. We also enjoy diving safely into conversations that allow artists to discuss vulnerable topics that aren’t traditionally discussed.”
When asked how T.H.A.C. was formed, Ms. Lazan answered: “It was the beginning of March when our world was faced with news of the lockdown that changed the way we live our lives. People looked toward the virtual sphere and social media to cope with being socially distanced. The lack of representation for diverse voices, stigmatization against mental health issues, and the epidemic of loneliness all became more conversational and centered by the thousands of people trapped in their homes. People were looking toward entertainment, and toward ways to connect deeply with others to escape the isolation. This was the time for creative people to step into their power and use their magical gifts. In looking to create for a purpose, to curate that needed connection and impact both at the personal and socially conscious levels, T.H.A.C. was born.”
When asked why people join T.H.A.C., Associate Director Lila Klatz added, “People join THAC because of the emotional and professional connections we make. I’ve never felt so eager to do hard emotional work and be so open and creative with others.”
An early work of T.H.A.C. started with a “Quarantine Open Mic Festival” that brought over 40 people from around the world to lead embodied workshops, participate in showcasing their art, and feature their short films to be watched and explored together over Zoom. From there, collaborative new works were formed: a love letter to the human condition; connective challenges inviting people to virtually dance together; an educational youth retreat; and an Artist Impact and Responsibility Panel.
As the community of T.H.A.C. grew, so did the works. Bringing stage to screen, the company produced its first show, Telephone…The Show. Thirteen artists from across the country collaborated together to put on 13 short, original plays. Through all of our works, one of the special things about T.H.A.C. is the empowering and deeply rooted relationships that are formed from around the world.
The most recent work is My Story, My Voice, a multimedia “museum” that explores the voices and real stories of twelve diverse, talented artists. The power of story invites people into the shoes of another, shaping perspective and compassion for another human being. Audiences form relationships with the characters from the stories and lyrics created by the THAC writers and lyricists and can freely associate with the challenges that these characters face. The creators never know what an audience member is going through or where their issues may come from. But by reaching out both verbally and nonverbally through the arts, the identities of creator and audience interface, and allow both to see each other, truthfully, for who they are rather than through a filtered lens that places judgment or expectation on who a person is. Each story is uniquely different, allowing people to capture moments of laughter, tears, strength, and hope from others through the mediums of audio drama, selected media and performance.
People can immerse themselves in MSMV by visiting our website: msmvthac.com and heading to our “Stories Exhibit!”. There are several opportunities to interact with the material and to get involved with our company, pitch ideas, and get inspired through collaboration.
Actor, dancer and educator, Mic Tone stated, “I am almost intimidated by the talent and real connections I am making with people from around the world through collaboration. Joining this group has started me on an inward and outward journey that I never knew I needed.
Todd, one of our shows artists added: “From the start, when introducing the vision for T.H.A.C., Jamie, Lila and Jarred presented undeniable energy and passion for the arts. Immediately, I could feel their care, respect and value for the artist. This drew me in.
Marisa, our Website Designer and Video Editor said: “My Story, My Voice has transcended the boundaries of quarantine and physical division. The virtual gallery mirrors its creators’ experiences in 2020 by adapting and growing from challenges we face. My Story, My Voice provides human connection through exploration online tools; it is art for the new American life.
To learn about the team and their stories: