Social Sense will employ The Collab-Orators’ community of New York City artists, filmmakers, architects, game designers, photographers, scientists, creative technologists, musicians, historians, futurists, fabricators and other experts, to deliver a full, sensory theatrical experience, designed to create empathy, and put that empathy to work to help solve some our City's biggest challenges.


Empathy, however, can be problematic because it requires an individual to imagine themselves in the place of another.  Saidiya Hartman has discussed the limits of this in her book Scenes of Subjection, that in order for a person to extend their empathy, a person must superimpose themselves over another, imagining themselves in the other's shoes.


Social Sense solves this problem by literally putting an individual in the shoes of another, using storytelling, technology, and immersive theatre to superimpose oneself over another, walking through their lives, their challenges, their circumstances for two hours, their identity replaced by another's.



The stories in Social Sense are the stories of real New Yorkers.  To that end, The Collab-Orators will launch the Social Sense Creative Directors Program (CDP), a project-based learning program to provide 200 individuals a year the opportunity to tell their stories to a wide audience through the building of a large-scale, experiential theatrical production. Project-based learning is a proven, powerful method for individuals to learn new skills and grow creatively and intellectually.  


Through Social Sense, The Collab-Orators will address two distinct challenges:  Allow 200 people a year to tell their stories without experiencing retraumatization while completing a comprehensive project-based learning curriculum; and create lasting empathy among an audience that results in measurable action.



The Collab-Orators will work with Community-based non-profits and City partners to identify individuals to become Creative Directors on Social Sense. The Collab-Orators will work with these stakeholders to establish criteria and considerations for selecting participants in CDP since these stakeholders have the most familiarity with their constituents. Stakeholders will make recommendations and will refer their constituents to info-sessions hosted by The Collab-Orators.


CDPs working on the Social Sense production will earn a living wage as they learn the valuable 21st century skills used in the creation and execution of the production.  The skills taught on the production are the skills necessary for a 21st century creative career.


Creative Directors will work under the guidance of a team of professionals -- from mental health professionals and partner organizations to writers and designers -- who will help them share their story. As the Creative Directors of their journey, individuals will be credited as such. CDPs will be paid fair living wages ($20 an hour minimum).


An additional goal is to create the connections and opportunities for participants to align with the professionals working on the production.  We feel that working directly with professionals on a daily basis offers the network necessary to learn skills, and potentially gain employment in the future.  The program is designed to inspire, teach new skills, increase soft skills, build creative confidence, and create a network and pipeline for employment opportunities in the future.  


In addition to teaching new skills, the program focuses on creating the conditions for:

  • Collaboration

  • Communication

  • Creativity

  • Critical thinking

  • Problem-solving


The program will focus on generating real stories from the people who have lived particular experiences, and have chosen to take part in Social Sense.  Individuals will share their stories from their experiences ranging from, but not limited to:


  • Immigration

  • Domestic Violence

  • Mental Health

  • Criminal Justice

  • Homelessness

  • Disability



Creating the conditions for CDPs to be surrounded by teams of professionals, garnering mental health and support services in addition to career development and mentoring will provide substantive benefits for individuals navigating unusually difficult circumstances.  Providing these teams and support services listed below will allow individuals to learn new skills and access opportunities in a safe, supportive environment:


  • Access to 21st Century Skills

  • Access to Mental Health and Support Services

  • Career Development

  • Certificate of Completion

  • Industry Certification (we will work with various industry leaders, i.e AVIXA, University at Buffalo to certify individuals)

  • Job Pipeline/Placement (The Collab-Orators will partner with employers to hire a number of people from the program.  We are in discussions with Barco, Edelman PR, AVIXA, and working on defining other potential partnerships)

  • Mentoring

  • Monthly Subway Card

  • Ongoing access to The Collab-Orators community and resources, including, but not limited to advanced manufacturing and rapid prototyping equipment

  • Paid While Training and/or Apprenticing





Individuals in the program have the opportunity to learn these skills from the beginning of the production through the full installation.  Every aspect of the design and build of the project, including the workflow, schematics, prototyping; through fabrication and production and installation, will yield opportunities for participants to gain exposure to, and become proficient in, the skills of their liking. CDP will use advanced manufacturing equipment in the designing and building of prototypes and physical sets.  Individuals will have the opportunity to learn to use this equipment and be guided in the interconnectedness of this equipment to the objectives at hand, including set and theatrical design, production design, lighting, 3D mapping, fabrication, and industrial design.


The Collab-Orators team will support and guide individuals toward success in the areas they’re interested in pursuing with an emphasis on job placement opportunities. By example, an individual may be interested in learning about designing in a 3D space.  Another person may be interested in the fabrication of a physical piece. The Collab-Orators team will place those individuals in the departments that do the work that they’re interested in learning. Because individuals will have limited exposure to these skills, allowances are made for individuals to try a pursuit, and then discard it if doesn’t suit them, and try a new pursuit of their choosing.  The objective is not to pigeon-hole individuals into learning a specific skill. It is to provide the widest exposure to skills and 21st-century trades, and let individuals pursue what most interests them.  





The Collab-Orators uses the latest software technologies, giving the individuals participating in the program access to learn software development, Data and Data Analysis, UX/UI Design, Physical Computing and VR/AR and MR.  The Collab-Orators will build its platform as a neural network that will grow smarter over time thereby giving individuals access to AI and AI integration.





As part of the Creative Director's Program, Social Sense will teach the 21st-century skills required for individuals to pursue a career in the Audio/Visual Industry.  Taught through a project-based curriculum, skills such as A/V Integration, and Technology Direction will open doors to new opportunities in the I/E and A/V Industry.  Collab is working with AVIXA (the world's leading Audio Visual Trade Association) to to develop new certification programs that will create a pipeline of job opportunities for individuals from our Creative Directors Program. 






City partnerships are a critical component of Social Sense’s success.  City Partners are the key stakeholders in identifying the individuals, stories and narratives that The Collab-Orators should be focusing on.  At this early stage, City Partnerships can help navigate, and connect The Collab-Orators with constituents who may be interested in participating in Social Sense.  As we’ve written, the partnerships are a critical component of the success of Social Sense and we’re looking forward to creating a working relationship with definable frameworks to build a successful partnership with the City.


Additionally, we imagine City Partners as the recipients of the actions resulting from the empathy created at Social Sense.  Designated areas will be set up at the conclusion of Social Sense for audiences to be able to interact with, volunteer, donate and support City partners directly, helping in the ways City partners deem most important.






The Collab-Orators are exploring partnerships with organizations such as Theater of the Oppressed NYC, Ghetto Film School, and Prison Writes, among others, that have greater experience working directly with vulnerable New Yorkers to share their stories. We plan to partner with organizations like these, and others, to successfully implement CDP.