Dante Ventresca is the Founder and Creative Director of Theater of Inclusion, which began in 2000 as way of bringing diverse people together to work on creative projects. Whether it be a theatrical performance, a large-scale mural, or just a thoughtful conversation, Ventresca crafts experiences that allow each individual to identify, practice, and contribute their strengths to a group project.
As the ninth of eleven children in his family, Ventresca learned early in life the value of teamwork and shared leadership. He combines these interpersonal skills with knowledge gained while obtaining his Bachelor in Fine Arts from Indiana University in 1982, to teach how skills and tools employed by artists can be used to solve problems in other areas of life.
Ventresca designs Theater of Inclusion retreats that address the development of soft skills in creative ways. This includes making temporary sculptures as part of a conflict resolution program for elementary school students and corporate team building through the creation of abstract paintings.
Ventresca’s work has earned him the Creative Renewal Fellowship from the Arts Council of Indianapolis, two Individual Artist Project Grants from the Indiana Arts Commission, and a NUVO Cultural Vision award.
Big Idea: “The Invisible Learning Environment”
When we discuss learning environments we often talk about the design of physical space: where to put the walls, how to organize the chairs, how to create common spaces. But what about the relationships that take place within those walls? Can we be as intentional about how we treat one another? How do we design interaction expectations in order to facilitate meaningful, supportive working relationships? By teaching the mechanics of respectful behavior we can create richer learning experiences.