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Breaking Down Barriers and Cultivating Creativity

As a 2021 Creative Ambassador for the City of San José, SCU’s Ray Furuta is designing a project that will promote creative expression, break down barriers between different art forms, and ultimately bring together the community.

As a 2021 Creative Ambassador for the City of San José, SCU’s Ray Furuta is designing a project that will promote creative expression, break down barriers between different art forms, and ultimately bring together the community.

by Sarah Stoddard ’23

Over the course of this year, Santa Clara University’s Ray Furuta (Music) will be designing and running a creative project “to engage our community in creative expression.” As one of five 2021 Creative Ambassadors selected by the City of San José Office of Cultural Affairs, Furuta will be encouraging residents of San José to explore their creative abilities. Selected based on their ideas for creative projects and how many people they could reach through them, the Creative Ambassadors are local artists who have impressive artistic backgrounds and a passion for community engagement work.

Furuta’s plan during his time as a Creative Ambassador is to create a collaborative space where members of the community can come together and have the freedom to be creative and explore their artistry. In this space, all forms of art will be viewed as equal and connected to each other. “How I propose to engage the community in this space is to allow popular presenters, teachers, or performers that our community knows well to each have time in that space and engage with their audience,” Furuta explains. At the same time, everyone involved will work together to dissolve any barriers between the art forms that are being presented and practiced. Interactive workshops and other activities will be held that any and all art-appreciators can participate in. Throughout this project, the focal point will be that “this is a space for all art. Not just one, or even two forms,” Furuta says.

The project is based on the “idea that arts are so siloed. We have the music-lovers, then dance and visual art, and photography…there are so many genres of art, and it’s so separate,” Furuta says. The walls between these different art forms may be invisible, but they undoubtedly exist. However, Furuta believes it doesn’t have to be this way—that there is a way to remove the separation between art forms while still allowing them to be appreciated for what they are.

Through this project, Furuta hopes to redefine what art appreciation truly is. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, everything will have to be run, at least for now, in a virtual setting. But even so, Furuta believes the mission can still be accomplished. His first idea to engage the community aims to challenge what being creative means. Members of the community can submit a video of themselves doing day-to-day activities such as cooking a meal or organizing their house. “Things like that, you wouldn’t necessarily define as creative, but when you really think about it, there are elements of creativity in all of them and really anything that you do,” Furuta says.

An important distinction of this activity, and the project as a whole, is that it is for everyone. But this space is especially for those who would say that they don’t think they are creative people. Everyone can find and cultivate creativity in their own lives and appreciate the art that they and others create—without borders or barriers between different art forms. Furuta says that in doing this, we will be “promoting a greater, larger community of art-appreciators by combining forces. It’s only going to make the world a more beautiful and less segregated place.”

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