Arts Citizenship At Home and Abroad: Introducing Global Citizen Artist and Paperworks Love Promotion. The landscape for artists is changing. Now, even artists in rural settings can be Global Citizens through Utopia Volunteers Global Citizen Artist service projects abroad.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Lindy Bishop, Exec. Dir.
HELPING ARTISTS EMBRACE THEIR ROLE AS GLOBAL CITIZENS.
Traverse City, Michigan - The notion of Global Citizenship has gained momentum in corporate America as well as college and university Study Abroad programs over the past few years. The world is getting smaller, right? And, what’s going on in Syria or Nepal, affects us here, right here in the heart, and sometimes in our climate, our economy and our sense of security. So, how can we not ask ourselves, “How am I showing up as a citizen in the world? If not globally, locally?”
Providing over 25 service projects in 5 countries and growing, Utopia Foundation’s Utopia Volunteers division, headquartered in Traverse City, is structured to help activate good intentions towards Global and local engagement. And, now, we are adding a whole new layer of service projects for people in the arts, from fine art, to dance, to music and spoken word under the umbrella name: Global Citizen Artist.
Recently, we started talking with artists about citizenship, as they are often called upon to donate their time and talents for the benefit of community. But quite often, it seems to come from the outside in instead of inside out – leaving artists to feel put-upon and depleted. Utopia Volunteers had a hunch that there might be a different feeling that comes about when an artist decides to volunteer on their own fruition, from their heart, knowing they hold a unique and special ability to contribute.
Creating a layer of service projects based in the arts is a natural for Utopia and supports our belief, that work and communication between different languages and cultures is enhanced dramatically when addressed through artistic expression and the intimacy of shared cultural awareness. It has the same quality as humor in that way. Opening up an arts volunteer segment also strengthens scale and resiliency of Utopia Volunteers.
Our job in promoting Global Citizen Artist projects is to help artists understand the importance of their work in the world and in so doing, help them create new pathways to success through relationships and experiences that inspire and compensate excellent work.
The best way we know how to do that is to help artists find their “Art Village” through the journey of service work. Finding an Art Village, as described by noted Chicago art advisor, Paul Klein, is about relationship building and market-finding - resulting in a connection to people willing and interested in supporting an artist and their work, as advisor, collector, ally, or benefactor.
As we come to know and understand different intelligences and how important it is that children of all ages are validated and nurtured in the areas of their strengths, exposure to different arts is also important, locally and abroad. In many countries, as well as our own, either no art curriculum, or cut backs in art – leave many talented kids with low self esteem as they may struggle to find success in areas of study where they are less adept. As one of our partners, published author and co-creator of Smart Parenting, Angie McCarthur, puts it, “It’s not how smart you are, it is how you are smart.”
LOCALLY (Traverse City, Michigan)
Last January, The Utopia Foundation, also parent organization for Paperworks Studio (a local Traverse City, handmade paper company employing people with disabilities and disadvantages), began asking local artists to join the efforts of local architect/artist couple and long-time volunteers, Andy and Myra Rink, to consider helping Paperworks Studio increase sustainability and explore new products. We had an enthusiastic and generous response based on a win/win arrangement.
Six artists: Glenn Wolff, Kaye Krapohl, Angela Saxon, Angela Schuler, Royce Deans, and Lindy Bishop, stepped up and donated non-exclusive image rights of one piece of their art, for reproduction on cards and prints as a way to help spark sales for Paperworks and extend product offerings. Paperworks promoted these artists and sold some originals (taking no commission) at their Front Street retail spot inside Great Lakes Bath and Body, during the Spring 2015 Downtown TC Artwalk.
Along with generous printing and art photography pricing from Scott Wilson at Vada Color, came the ability to offer artists a high-res photo of their art piece at no cost (typically a $65 value). In addition, each artist received recognition and a credit line on the cards and prints that reach thousands as cards are sold and received. The Citizen Artist line is currently available at the retail shop on Front Street and will continue to grow through a series of promotions and curated events, including the recently announced, “What Love Looks Like” contest. (see additional release for more details).
The international feature of this program, through Utopia Volunteers, will launch its first project in March and November of 2016 with a mural project in Melkhoutfontein, South Africa (western cape), championed by an in-country non-profit partner, Anthea Russouw, Director of Dreamcatchers. The goal of this project will be to help the people of Melkhoutfontein and its local artists further define their tourism economy, develop employable trades, treasure their cultural heritage and validate their vital place in the world (located next to the Blombos Cave where the earliest known evidence of humankind as artists can be found.)
This project is multi-faceted with participation from The Netherlands and lead by an artist from The UK, Bruce Rimell, who is a winner of the Arts For Humanity Award, for his work on Blombos Cave images.
Utopia Volunteers presented these opportunities to local artists at The Dennos museum this past January, and in May with Anthea Russouw (while she was here from SA for TEDX), as well as at Art Schools, Community Colleges (including NMC) and Universities in Michigan and across the country. Participation and interest is building and about to be activated now that costs and logistics are almost complete. We are looking at a ten-day to two-week experience with home-stays in the village including ground transportation and food for approximately $1,500. Airfare is not included but is generally close to $1,500 Round Trip from major US airports. As a non-profit organization, Utopia Volunteers - through veteran travel abroad pro, and Director of the organization, Deb Asuncion - provides one of the best values available, as well as carefully vetted and meaningful experiences in over five countries.
Utopia Volunteers is planning to add a Spoken Word project in the Kibera Slum near Nairobi, a dance project at a Nepal orphanage, an art-in-schools project in Uganda, and an artisan market development program in Tanzania in the coming year. In addition, we are finding that many of our in-country program partners are interested in creating a Paperworks and Great Lakes Bath & Body micro-factory of their own guided by Director of both, Lynn Rodenroth. Interested artists and organizations can sign-up for participation in Global Citizen Artist service abroad trips through The Utopia Volunteers website. http://www.utopiavolunteers.org
Artists and local volunteers who would like to support Paperworks Studio can contact Director, Lynn Rodenroth at Lynn@paperworksstudio.com.