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DeltaFusion Supported by $10,000 NEA Grant

Jan 26, 2011

Tree of Life
An example of giant puppets created by In the Heart of the Beast Puppet and Mask Theatre (HOBT) of Minneapolis, which will be assisting in Pacific's DeltaFusion project.

The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) has recently awarded a grant of $10,000 to the University in support of DeltaFusion. The project, conceived by Theatre Arts Chair Cathie McClellan and Visual Arts Chair Brett DeBoer, will use visual and performing arts as a means to celebrate the cultural heritage of the city of Stockton and San Joaquin County, one of the most culturally diverse areas in the country.

DeltaFusion is taking place June 20 through July 23, 2011, and the final event will be a parade and performance on Saturday, July 23, the anniversary of the incorporation of Stockton as a city.

Professor McClellan conceived the idea for DeltaFusion after being inspired by Aquatopia—a summer program she participated in several years ago led by Pacific's Visual Arts department. Aquatopia combined art and science to raise awareness of the ecosystem of the California watershed.

At the time, Professor McClellan was fairly new to Stockton, and despite hearing about gang problems and ethnic divisions, she felt Stockton was a good community with a lot to offer. She wanted to find a way to use the arts to help bring people together. "The idea was to enhance the local population's respect for one another and appreciation for the rich cultural heritage we have here," said Professor McClellan. "I want to focus on the positive aspects of the Stockton community."

"We are excited to be able to offer DeltaFusion as a way to show how the Arts can be used to encourage acceptance of diversity, enhance community, and invigorate public discussion of contemporary issues," said Dr. Joanna Albala, Director of Research Initiatives & Strategic Partnerships for the College of the Pacific.

After the initial concept was formed, McClellan and DeBoer, assisted by Albala, wrote the NEA grant and continue to seek additional funding.

DeltaFusion Workshops

DeltaFusion will be a 5-week session of workshops in which participants will develop a performance that centers on the history of the delta, the industries that took root here, and the immigrant populations who arrived to work in those industries. Participants will create and use large-scale puppets to tell the story.

The first 3 weeks include a workshop that Pacific students and elementary through high school teachers in the community can register for through Pacific's Center for Professional and Continuing Education (CPCE). There is a fee to register, but some scholarships may be available. During this workshop, time will be divided between making the physical materials for the performance and developing the performance itself. After researching the history and cultures of the area, the participants will learn how to form the factual information into stories to script the performance.

In the Heart of the Beast

DeltaFusion will include master puppeteers from the Minneapolis organization In the Heart of the Beast Puppet and Mask Theatre (HOBT) who will share their expertise and assist with making the giant puppets that will be the centerpiece of the performance. HOBT uses puppet and mask theatre to promote social and cultural awareness.

Guided by Professors McClellan and DeBoer, other faculty members, and master artists from HOBT, participants will make masks, costumes, sets, props, and even parade floats. Professor McClellan is a costume designer who has years of experience in costume making as well as set design, props and puppet-making.

Joining Together With the Community

The second half of DeltaFusion will be offered to the public as a two-week workshop. This workshop is free and open to all ages, but participants must register for it through CPCE. During this period, the students from the first 3 weeks become mentors, teaching the skills they learned to the new participants and working together to complete the performance.

The DeltaFusion parade will begin at Pixie Woods and end at Victory Park. The performance will follow on the grounds of the Haggin Museum, which has been an active partner in the DeltaFusion project. Other partners include Rob and Ria Kroff from KUDOS Children's Theatre Company, the Stockton Arts Commission, and the Cultural Heritage Council of San Joaquin County.

Get Involved

Look for the DeltaFusion workshop when the Summer 2011 catalog is available from the Center for Professional and Continuing Education (CPCE). You can also contact Professors McClellan and DeBoer to learn more.

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