Using Performance-Based Arts as a Delivery Strategy in International Agricultural Development

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Chatterjee, Aparupa
Performance-based art; International agricultural development; theater; dance as delivery tool; Education and communication; Community theater
thesis / dissertation description
The purpose of this qualitative study was to explore and describe the perceptions of purposively sampled International Agricultural Development workers who had experienced using performance-based arts as a delivery method in international education and agricultural development. This case study was based on the needs assessment, research paradigms and impacts of using Community Theatre, a performance-based art, as a delivery strategy for communication, education and development to eradicate health, political and socio-economic constraints posing a threat to the net agricultural production of the communities involved in the SPREAD project of the Rwandan coffee and pyrethrum co-operatives. Usually implemented in developing nations, Community Theater had brought itself to Africa post-genocide in 1994 and has been extremely successful in Rwanda. With a historic, tragic post-war and genocide aftermath, communities lacking considerable education and social awareness, found it difficult to address social change to transition into a more peaceful and developed condition. Addressing an establishment of such a reconstruction strategy, through employing Community Theater, the communities engaged themselves as artists and were stretched and challenged to transform into leaders of their communities to improve the lives of their generations and generations to follow. A qualitative research paradigm formed the basis of the methodology of the study. The study used a holistic, unique and descriptive case study research design. A purposive sample of respondents, selected on the criterion of having experienced the use of Community Theatre, a performance-based artistic strategy in the SPREAD project for international agricultural development, were interviewed face-to-face, by telephone and electronically. Findings were reported using categories or themes emerging from data analysis, which implied the positive impacts of theatre on understanding, assessing, staging or scripting and resolving socio-economic and health concerns, which in turn enhanced team building, empowerment, gender role resources, education and awareness, family planning and agricultural production. Owing to its proved success, Community Theater brings forth a considerable level of credibility and legitimacy and a power to engage communities at large, impacting the improvement of the livelihoods involved in agriculture, building capacity and increasing agricultural and industrial production of the cooperatives of Rwanda at each household level.