Arts Journalists To Gain Knowledge On HIV/AIDS Reporting

By Novell Zwange – JOHANNESBURG -This weekend, Life Beats, a collaborative project by Drama for Life/Sex Actually Festival and the HIV/AIDS and the Media Project, is organising a workshop designed to bridge the gap between traditional health journalism and arts journalism when reporting on the human drama that relates to HIV.

The workshop offers participants a closer understanding of both the performing and visual arts (particularly those dealing with HIV) and the HIV epidemic as a news story. With its two-pronged approach, Life Beats has something to offer to both news journalists wanting to access the arts as well as to arts journalists who are confronted with issues around HIV/AIDS.

Participants will be given guidance on how to deal with issues of stigma, disclosure, confidentiality and working with minors. The training session will also address identifying bias and propaganda by being critical of funding.

After having reviewed the basic elements of reporting, performing arts and HIV, participants will have the opportunity to put their skills to the test as they watch and analyse PJ Sabbagha’s acclaimed, collaborative dance theatre work ( HIV drama ) Deep Night. After the rehearsal participants will engage with the director-choreographer and the cast.

With an eye on fostering collaborations between civil society and journalists, participants will also receive a contact database of health practitioners and research organisations as well as a list of artists, companies, projects and training programmes that deal with HIV.

Clowns Without Borders, an artist-led humanitarian group will demonstrate how movement techniques clowning and storytelling can play a vital role in assisting AIDS devastated communities where grandmothers and siblings often have to step in to head families.