Looking To The Future Of The DAC

What does the future look like? How will the imminent future shape our more distant future? These are questions many of us have been asking ourselves over the last 12 months. What will sustain and stand the test of time, and what will change, improve or dissolve? And in the midst of this chaos, how will opportunities present themselves? 

As 2021 begins and we bring the unprecedented and overwhelming 2020 to a close, the Dwarf Artist Coalition has reflected upon what this year has meant to us: as a coalition, and as artists. Back in 2016, Sofiya Cheyenne, DAC’s Chair, set out with trailblazing intentions to establish a safe space for LP artists to connect, create, and shine a light on the talent within the community. It was the coalition's hope to one day elevate the DAC to be a similarly recognized establishment within Little People of America as the DAAA (Dwarf Athletic Association of America), aspiring to make the arts as formally recognized as athletics. Through initiatives such as the Telephone Project, Open Mic Nights, a Theatre Fellowship program, Visual Art Displays, and various other artistry workshops for all ages, the DAC has created a community where artists can share not only their talents and crafts, but discuss them and build deeper connections through them. The DAC is a place where members celebrate each other's work and ideas, a place to openly question or explore, a place to gain self confidence, and a place to build strength within our collective vulnerabilities. The DAC reflects exactly what a coalition stands for: “An alliance for combined action,” and making art the center of everything. As minority persons, it is generally through the liberal arts where new ideas are formalized in ways that are understandable, emotional, and invoke change. Art is a medium in which boundaries are pushed and new ideas emerge. We have never been so forcefully pressured to adapt than we were in 2020, due to the pandemic. We led with optimism and the need to connect with each other, and through our recent virtual experiences, we discovered new faces and new talents - many of which were willing to lead and participate from around the world. A yearning for connectivity and creativity this past year incited new programming and developments that will forever shape the DAC. 

The artist community has been deeply impacted by the pandemic - a field that usually hosts freelance professionals who rely on in-person collaborations. Artists have struggled and many have been left unemployed and without creative outlets, and have been forced to leave big cities because they are unable to pay rent. Through it all, even though many of us are living far from what we used to call “normal”, we have continued to find spaces to produce work and collaborate with each other - everything from virtual play readings, art galleries, or Zoom meet-ups. Bright and impactful murals that have given life to deserted cities, or a new Etsy shop that brings small business owned art conveniently into peoples homes. We know that coming out of this pandemic, there will be a myriad of opportunities for artists to seize - hopefully, in the not-so-distant future! We believe from this moment in history and with all that people have endured, the creations produced which reflect a time of patience, courage, loneliness and humanity, a new appreciation for the arts will emerge. While art can be a direct reflection of the times we are living in, it can also fulfill a need for escapism. The need to surround ourselves with things that bring us joy is real. That is what the DAC hopes to bring to our community – joy. A place to embrace the realities not alone, but together. 

The Dwarf Artist Coalition centers around our artists, but an artist is not an exclusive thing. You don’t need to be a professional or even a hobbyist; art is simply, “expression or application of human creative skill and imagination”. In our eyes, everyone is creative - especially within the LP community and amongst people with disabilities - as we are always finding ourselves in circumstances within our daily lives that require adaptation and creative thinking. Our most important mission is to celebrate our community by uplifting all voices and creating opportunities for anyone who chooses to express themselves. We understand this last year has been challenging, to say the least - a year filled with turmoil, struggle, and grief, from civil unrest to political catastrophes, from environmental devastations to a global pandemic. We hope amidst it all and whatever comes our way, the DAC is a sanctuary where everyone feels welcome and heard, because your voice matters in whatever way you choose to use it. 

At the end of the day, we may not have a crystal ball or deck of cards to tell us our fortunes, but if this past year has taught us one thing, it is this: the future of the Dwarf Artist Coalition is beautiful, because our members are our future. This was a year about connection with our community, and how we can push ourselves to be more accessible and serve one another. A convention isn’t a requirement to stay in touch or to create amazing work. By going virtual, it expanded our reach, and we could still come together, make, and express ourselves. All we really need is each other - that is the most important thing. Over the next year, you will see the DAC promoting events made by, for, and about our artists throughout the entire year. With our virtual platform, we can gather whenever we choose. Our future looks brighter than before, and art has always transcended challenge and struggle, and it is here to stay. 

We are excited to one day feel the energy of an audience, the echo of a microphone, the heat of spotlights and not our screens - to physically be with each other. We will get there, one day at a time. 

With peace & love, 
DAC – Dwarf Artist Coalition

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