The Seeds Performing Arts Theatre Group uses performing arts as a communication tool for community development in Papua New Guinea (PNG). It was established in 1997 as an initiative of Sam Solomon Sommi, the founder and director of the group, in the Lae District of PNG. Its intention is to reach the population that is missed by radio, television, and print media messages. By using traditional performing arts as a strategy for education, the group utilises the potential of young unemployed women and men and, at the same time, raises awareness on the causes and consequences of domestic violence, sexual harassment in the workplace, and bullying in schools, as well as HIV awareness and health and social issues.
The Seed Theatre group's goals are:
- To use drama as a communication tool to increase the general public's level of knowledge and understanding through correct and accurate information and messages on; HIV AIDS, sexually transmitted diseases (STIs), and other health-related issues; social issues, including violence against women (VAW); and related development issues.
- To use theatre, including dance and music, as a community-based media strategy to be utilised by unemployed youth within their respective communities as a communication tool for social gathering.
- To reach the illiterate rural and urban settlement population.
The group designs performances that carry messages from local non-governmental organisations, faith-based organisations, and community-based organisations.
The type of services provided by the group include:
- Theatre training of youth and adults as performing artists and village theatre trainers and directors
- Theatre drama promotion and awareness
- Radio drama productions
- Road show productions and their promotion
- Radio spots and video clip productions
Show locations include markets, settlement, public venues, schools, villages, and workplaces.
Funded through United Nations Women’s Pacific Fund to End Violence against Women, the Seeds Theatre Group held 42 performances on the topic of VAW in January 2012 in public areas, including markets, bus stops, and public neighbourhoods. Organisers hoped to reach almost 70% the population in the Lae District through a total of 168 performances over 4 months in 2012.
HIV, Gender, VAW, Health
With a population of 119,000, the Lae District, which has the largest population of the Morobe Province, is the industrial hub of Papua New Guinea. High unemployment rates in urban communities increase the risks of crime and violence, which affects around 80 percent of the population in the district. The Seeds Facebook page states that TV, radio, and print media reach a minority of the population in urban centres of PNG, about 20% of the 6 million of the people, leaving out 80% of the population.
The project works in collaboration with the Women and Children Support Centre, the Morobe Provincial AIDS Council, Save the Children, the Salvation Army, and Ward Councilors of the district, as well as women and youth church groups.