Spotlight: Art Gallery of NSW Supports Program for Disadvantaged Youth

Kudos to Art Gallery of NSW for continuing to support a program that caters to students who are disadvantaged by geographic, economic and cultural factors.

ARTside-in! is a unique three-stage outreach program for years 10, 11 and 12 Visual Arts students in NSW who would otherwise have limited opportunity to access the Gallery’s collection, exhibitions and services. In order to participate in the metropolitan and regional ARTside-In! programs, a school must be supported by the NSW Department of Education and Training Priority Schools Program (PSP).

Students who are disadvantaged by geographic, economic and cultural factors are able to participate in the Gallery and wider art world, making valuable connections to the Visual Arts syllabus, while discovering more about arts careers and potential professional pathways for their futures. It is also an opportunity for the Gallery, in turn, to learn from students and teachers, both at the Gallery itself and in the school environment.

For details of the program, see Stages.
For details on how to participate, see How to get involved.

Ismailis | A Celebration of Diversity Now Available

Ismailis | A Celebration of Diversity, a brainchild of Ashifa Asaria-Lalani and a group of other supporters, is a hard cover coffee table book that captures the beauty and diversity of Ismaili Muslims around the world. Most of the images in this book are entries from an International Ismaili Photography Competition. More than 1,200 entries were received from all over the globe and a few were selected for inclusion in the book. Proceeds from the book are being donated to the Aga Khan Development Network.

Purchase your copy of the book at

The Shia Ismaili Muslims are a community of ethnically and culturally diverse peoples living in over 25 countries around the world, united in their allegiance to His Highness Prince Karim Aga Khan as the 49th hereditary spiritual leader and direct descendant of Prophet Muhammad.

Making Art Accessible for Economically Disadvantaged Children

Copyright © The Vibrant Cultural LIfe
How do you get young kids interested in art? Give them a paintbrush, canvas and a little direction.

That is what the YWCA of the Central Carolinas did for 161 economically disadvantaged children.

Partially funded with a $7,500 ASC Cultural Access grant, their arts enrichment program allowed children, ranging in age from 5 to 12, to visit the Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts + Culture and brought local artist Sherrica ‘Swan’ Cole to each of the YWCA sites to teach the children about different types of art, art history and how to create their own masterpiece.

Read more at A Vibrant Cultural Life

Spotlight: Art 180

Who Are They
Established in 1998, ART 180 creates and provides art-related programs for young people living in challenging circumstances, encouraging personal and community change through self-expression. Our group is based in Richmond, Virginia. Their mission is to give young people the chance to express themselves through art, and to share their stories with others.

What They Do
ART 180 partners with other nonprofit organizations to serve children living in challenging circumstances in Richmond, Virginia. Through our programs, youth discover ways they can positively engage in and influence their surroundings.

Professional artists and volunteers work with youth after school for 12 weekly sessions. Each program grows from the needs and interests of the group of young people being served.

The young artists are asked to explore crucial personal statements that reinforce their sense of identity and purpose, such as: What is a hero? What do I want people to know about me? How can I make my community a better place? Programs culminate with some kind of public presentation of artwork. These have included billboards, art exhibits, poetry readings, CDs and DVDs.

By merging the private creative experience with a public showcase, ART 180 offers youth a safe way to talk about what matters most to them, while offering the community a compelling way to hear it.

Contact ART 180
ART 180
0 E. 4th St
Studio 1
Richmond, VA 23224

Instant Art Collection Giveaway on May 26

Habit of Art is running an “Instant Art Collection Giveaway” from Thursday, May 26,  until Tuesday, May 31, 2011, where ten Etsy contemporary artists from around the globe will give away 25 pieces of art, including a few original pieces, to 3 lucky winners. Each of the three collections range in value from $160 - $275.

For a chance to win you simply need to visit Habit of Art starting on May 26 and comment on the giveaway post.

Don't forget to visit the website on May 26, 2011

Habitat, Symbol & Art: May 27-29, 2011

Habitat, Symbol & ArtMay 27-29, 2011
SteamPlant Event Center
Salida, Colorado

Colorado Art Ranch’s eighth Artposium, “Dwellings: Habitat, Symbol & Art,” will construct—and deconstruct— the meaning of home. The weekend event will explore how a house is not merely a shelter, but a source of identity, a symbol of family and heritage, and, ideally, a work of art. We’ll build a three-dimensional view of dwellings from the perspectives of an architect, anthropologist, a builder, two visual artists, and two writers.

Registration: $200 (includes all presentations, reception, workshops, lunch and breakfasts). $150 for students.

Architect Danny Wicke will illustrate how Rural Studio is designing artistic and environmentally responsible “shelters for the soul” for the impoverished residents of Hale County, Alabama. He will also lead a discussion about his current project, “The $20,000 House.”

Christina Kreps, Associate Professor of Anthropology at Denver University, will give us insight into how people around the world create homes for themselves.

Leigh Davis, an artist based in Brooklyn and Washington DC, uses photography to document how people adapt generic living spaces, such as self storage units and YWCA rooms, in response to radically changing economic conditions. 

Craig Nielson, a Salida, Colorado designer and green builder, will discuss the need for portable shelter for people displaced by war and natural disasters and demonstrate the ShelterCart, a low-cost solution for humanitarian relief.

BK Loren, an award winning Colorado author, will lead two classes for writers of any level: “Dwelling in Words: Finding Your Place in Writing” and “Nomad's Land: The Internal Sense of Home.”

Sandra Dorr, a Grand Junction author of poetry, essays, and short stories, will lead a session on how to write “Ancestors, Visions & Dwellings.”

Dean Dablow, Professor Emeritus of Photography at Louisiana Tech University, will direct two photography classes: “The Space Between Us”

Sean Smith, green builder and former host of HGTV's Professional Grade, will host the Panel discussion on Sunday.

Sheema Kermani: A movement for change

Taking the center stage, the woman twirls with a fluid-like grace, her anklets jingling in solidarity. Her movements are rhythmic, glorious, and deliberate as she keeps time with the verse and music that fills the space around her. She owns the stage she stands on and captivates the onlookers. The message is not in the performance alone, it goes much deeper and traces its roots to a Rights Movement that began a long time ago in Pakistan and renders this female performer a legend.

For over three decades, this fearless and renowned classical dancer has led a battle against cultural oppression in Pakistan by holding stage plays and shows on subjects that are not easily talked about in that part of the world. She is Sheema Kermani, a household name and the founder of Tehrik-e-Niswan, a cultural arm of the Women’s Rights Movement in Pakistan.

At a time when culture and Women’s Rights are seriously threatened by militants in the region, the work that Kermani and her loyal troupe do is critical to the soul of entertainment in Pakistan. Undeterred by backlash, ranging from death threats, to her troupe’s execution, to her performance attendees being terrorized, Kermani stands firm and committed on the path she has chosen. Strangely, her life echoes the words of the famous Pakistani poet, Bol kay lab azad haen teray (speak for your tongue is free).

The daughter of an army general, Kermani was thrown into dancing by her mother while she was still at school. “Learning music and dance was considered part of our education and upbringing and this continued throughout my student life,” she states. Her muse is borne out of an impressive group of movers and shakers. “My inspiration in theatre have been people like Bertolt Brecht, Utpal Dutt, Habib Tanvir, Dario Fo, and Franca Rame,” she says, “while my inspiration in dance have been Uday Shankar, Chandralekha and of course my own gurus Mr. and Mrs. Ghanshyam.” After finishing her schooling in Karachi, Kermani enrolled at Croydon College of Art in London in the late 1960s. Upon her return to Pakistan, she felt the first stirring of an activist within her.

When the then President of Pakistan, General Zia ul Haq banned dance performances, Kermani rebelled and continued to teach and perform—often underground and in front of a close group of fans and friends, who shared her defiance against the dictatorial repression. The government required a No Objection Certificate (NOC) for any sort of public performance which included obtaining police clearances of performers and censorship of scripts. To top it, the certificate banned dancing in any form. “My work became a political activity,” recalls Kermani, “and my performances became acts of defiance against the martial law regime. For the audience, it was a show of solidarity for this defiance.”

Kermani’s first solo performance in 1983 was at a friend’s house where she invited about 50-60 people but more than 200 people showed up. At this event, she and her group compiled a list of contact information of attendees interested in coming to future performances. “Before an event, I would send out invitations to the people on the list,” she says. “This grassroots effort with like-minded people was the birth of Tehrik-e-Niswan, a cultural action group that continues to be actively involved in the performing arts even today.”

The movement started off with organizing seminars and workshops around violence on women and the controversial Chaddar and Chardiwari rule that limited women’s liberty and rights. Gradually, the group drifted towards cultural and creative activities like theatre and dance to promote their cause. “For the first time in the history of the country, feminist and politically conscious plays about the plight of women and other oppressed people began to be staged,” says a proud Kermani.

Over the years, Tehrik-e-Niswan has produced artistic and socially relevant plays, mostly in the more middle- and low-income areas of Karachi. The plays consist of a variety of forms and styles––musicals, folk traditions, and stylized movements as well as modern and realistic forms. Some are adaptations and translations, while others are original plays written by prominent writers of the Urdu language. “Tehrik-e-Niswan’s plays usually integrate dialogue and narrative with dance and music, as well as traditional story telling techniques and conventions borrowed from the sub continental folk traditions of Yatra, Nautanki and Tamasha,” explains Kermani.

According to Kermani, art elevates the mind and soul to a higher level and eradicates pettiness and coarseness. “Culture brings people together and leads to harmony and cohesion. It counters violence and aggressive attitudes and urges people to reflect and think, thus unleashing the creative energies of people,” she states. Kermani feels that art and especially the Performing Arts can bring about this change because there is something in art that expresses an unchanging truth and has a liberating quality. “The proof of its effectiveness lies in the undeniable fact that our mental attitudes are formed by the songs that we have heard, the plays or films we have seen, the poems or stories that we have read or been told,” she explains.

And so the shows go on: a play about girls' education in Lyari, another on contemporary attitude of society towards dance, still another on domestic violence. And with the zealous stance and energy of its founder, Tehrik-e-Niswan is slowly peeling off the artificial mask in society that defines dance and theatre as taboo activities. “I believe that through theatre we can move people emotionally to think! Once they start thinking, they will be motivated to search for change.”

For more information on Tehrik-e-Niswan, visit its website.

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