Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Keeping the Arts Alive...

There are some big things happening for ArtPeace right now! We are coming together - moving toward a merger - with a long-standing arts learning organization with a quality reputation, Young Audiences of Rochester, part of a national network.

This process has been challenging - moving into a new office, organizing, sharing space and resources, getting a new finance department, changing insurance carriers, a big audit with a new accounting firm, shifting personnel, seeking new opportunities in partnership, working together, joint and separate committee and board meetings, working with an outside consulting agency, etc. It's exciting but also one the hardest things in the history of the organization. It means really shifting a lot of what we have built. It's like preparing your "baby" to go off to school and to rely on you less.

These collaborative efforts are ultimately about lifting up this important work in the community, seeing its value as a legitimate profession / area of specialty and seizing community opportunities to make our mark! Coming together widens the scope and deepens the impact of the arts learning work that can be done for the benefit of a more expansive array of kids. Educating and employing youth using the arts, technology and entrepreneurship is our niche, the core competency that other youth services organizations don't have. This new organization is a force that is here to stay and open to working with any other youth organization or program to bring the arts to life!

Together we are STRONGER! This new company has an emphasis on a diverse array of talented, professional and experienced artists to offer anything from an assembly program, to a school residency, workshops, training, curriculum development or deep arts integration. We have developed a small arts and technology integrated school program and deep, meaningful learning experiences that center around the arts, but teach science, math, history, health, language and english language arts, as well as real-world life and job skills. In addition, there are structured arts-based programs, such as "Creative Entrepreneurs" where youth are employed to start creative businesses and "The Possibility Project" where young people write scripts from their own life stories and combine these theatrical pieces with original music and dance. There are special literacy programs, researched and developed nationally, as well as projects that focus on early childhood, when play, imagination and creative exploration is so important.

We are skilled at handling the hardest-to-reach youth, providing urban/suburban/rural young people with year-round opportunities to get engaged, express themselves and learn in ways that tap into the various learning styles. The possibilities are truly limitless when it comes to arts, youth and learning with so many creative, thinking people. If we do our jobs correctly, true social change will emerge from these efforts. There may even be a few new tricks up our sleeves! Some things that just may be really innovative, fresh and new! We can't wait to unveil the new brand, name and vibe into the Greater Rochester community. It's also ground-breaking in that we are doing all this with real collaboration at the heart of it. In the spirit of lifting up our young people, as well as the artists and the thinkers to create a generation of awake and ready individuals who are rising up to the challenges of the global citizenship in the 21st Century.

Wow. I didn't plan for the blog to take on this promotional feel to it, but what is happening is exciting, as hard as it is, and as many extra hours it takes hiding out in the office! It's hard not to share it!

However, I have another big project that I need YOUR help with. I am writing a book called Keeping the Arts Alive... for the Search Institute. I'd like to include some thoughts from others in this book. Please let me know how the arts have impacted YOUR life! Send a picture, a video, a song, a poem, words, a quote - but let me know how arts, arts learning, an arts-based job or dream of the arts has impacted your life, career, personal development, self esteem, healing or learning. Please post them here or send them to me via email at You can also find me on Facebook, LinkedIn or follow on Twitter. So many ways we can connect! Please send me your thoughts and ideas as soon as possible so they may be considered for inclusion in the publication.