Micro-Entrepreneurship: Supporting the Dreams of Triangle Artists With Disabilities

By Taryn OeschP1040558-e1513269300865-700x441

The Power of the Dream is a local nonprofit with a mission to create jobs and advocate for adults with autism and developmental/intellectual disorders (autism/IDD) in the Triangle. One of the ways it accomplishes this mission is by helping artists become micro-entrepreneurs, or small business owners, by creating a business and selling their work.

For example, Walter Magazine’s latest issue profiled King Nobuoyshi Godwin, an artist with autism whose paintings use bright colors and numbers to express his unique perspective and emotions. Godwin’s art is currently on display at Artspace and can also be found at The Power of the Dream’s thrift store, HANDmeUPS, as well as Lucky Tree, Moondog Fine Arts, and Read With Me.

P1040564-225x300The Power of the Dream offers micro-enterprise workshops for artists and other entrepreneurs with autism/IDD. The students bring their artistic ability; The Power of the Dream brings the business knowledge. Together with the artists’ support teams, they build business plans to help the artists start selling their work. The current class includes a painter, a soap maker who already has his own family business, and a jeweler who also creates handmade cushions and pillows.

The class takes the students through the components of a business plan, one piece at a time, and they finish with a complete plan, ready to start selling their art. Building business acumen also helps the students build confidence in themselves. In fact, Tirthna Badhiwala, the employment and outreach coordinator at The Power of the Dream, says, “My favorite thing is seeing our micro-entrepreneurs gain confidence in who they are, often after years of being discouraged from pursuing their dreams. Hearing new micro-entrepreneurs talk about their first sales and seeing how self-empowering that is for them never gets old.”

“A difference in communication or style does not automatically negate skills or abilities,” says Nichole Brownlee, executive director of The Power of the Dream. “Whether it is their primary source of income or a supplement to their income, our micro-entrepreneurs also receive the benefits of empowerment and self-determination that can be lacking with this population.”

“Micro-enterprise is one of the most empowering options in the face of un(der)employment,” says Badhiwala, “not only because it can be an income supplement for artists with autism/IDD, but because it’s an income supplement that comes from creating what they genuinely love.” Any artist can agree that the sense of empowerment, independence and creative freedom that comes from supporting yourself by doing something you love is worth all the hard work it takes to get there. The Power of the Dream helps micro-entrepreneurs with that hard work.

Want to know more? Visit The Power of a Dream website or contact them by email.  Check out some of the art on sale at HANDmeUPS thrift store, or come to the next PowerUP pop-up market on May 19 from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. at Hero’s Pub in Raleigh.

Taryn Oesch is an award-winning editor and writer with a passion for inclusion and the arts. In her spare time, she volunteers with Miracle League of the Triangle and The Power of the Dream, plays the flute at her church, and battles for apartment space with an ever-growing collection of books. 

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CURRENT Opening Electrifies Downtown Chapel Hill Arts

Downtown Chapel Hill gained an exciting new arts venue with the February 2 opening of the  CURRENT™ ArtSpace + Studio on Franklin Street.CURRENT ArtSpace + Studio Presented by California Performing Arts at the University of North Carolina, the 7,000-square-foot space houses both an adaptable black box-style theater and multi-purpose studio. The facility is designed to feature immersive and co-creative arts experiences, including interactive theater and full-scale installations by exciting and emerging artists. CURRENT™ will also serve as Carolina Performing Arts’ physical and intellectual home for world-class artists-in-residence to collaborate with faculty, researchers, students, and the community.

The new venue,  strategically located in the new, mixed-use development adjacent to both the UNC campus and the vibrant downtown shopping and dining district, is distinguished by its unconventional, flexible architecture. The 3,000-square-foot Studio features three floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the Carolina Square outdoor space, passersby can peek in to see dance rehearsals, artist lectures, and much more.

Photo & Caption, University Gazette: The CURRENT venue features one wall that is all glass and seating that can go anywhere (one side to four sides)—or nowhere (completely retractable).

The Studio is also a new home for the Carolina Performing Arts artists-in-residence to develop their work in collaboration with others. The theater space can accommodate many different configurations, depending upon the needs of a particular event, from artist talks to post-performance gatherings, creative workshops, and many other artistic and community events.

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Emil Kang, Executive and Artistic Director of UNC Performing Arts and Special Assistant to the Chancellor at UNC, speaks at the Opening Ceremonies.

The CURRENT™ opening ceremonies included a tour of the inaugural Sound Maze installation by artist Paul Dresher. Sound Maze is a hands-on art experience featuring more than a dozen giant musical instruments invented by Dresher. Visitors were invited to wander through and discover new ways of creating sound with these fantastical instruments. Opening events included works involving audience participation (“We are Gob Squad and So are You,” and “Revolution Now” by Gob Squad) ; activist hip-hop performance (Boots Riley and the Coup); and contemporary theatre (“The Fever” by 600 Highwaymen).

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A+ Schools of North Carolina, with Arts Integrated Curriculum, Begins Recruitment for New Schools

A+ Schools of North Carolina is a state and national leader in providing quality professional development that supports comprehensive arts education and other creative and cutting-edge educational practices. Currently, there are 56 A+ schools across the state that are part of a network of schools that teach the state standards through multi-discipline collaboration with the arts continuously woven into the learning experience.  A-NC-Horiz-Filled-Blue-940x443If you have not heard of A+ Schools of North Carolina, learn more here.

“The number of schools joining the A+ Network is at its highest number since A+ was initiated more than twenty years ago,” said Michelle Burrows, A+ Schools Director. “The continued growth of the program speaks to how successful the arts can be in engaging students in learning and in providing inspiration for every subject area.”  Research shows that students’ proficiency and overall school performance increases following implementation of A+ practice and philosophy. A+ schools also report improved attendance, fewer disciplinary problems, stronger teacher satisfaction and higher levels of community and parental involvement. To view a list of A+ schools in NC, look here.

Want to learn more? A+ Schools of North Carolina began the recruitment process for summer 2019 entry with two information sessions in March. Find out more about the process here.  Letters of intent are due on June 15.

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See Saw Projects Brings Applied Theatre to the Triangle

One of the newest theatre organizations in the Triangle is See Saw Projects, a company that will offer projects in “applied theatre.” According to Artistic Director Amy Sawyers-Williams, “applied theatre” is an umbrella term for “theatre practices that use theatre as a tool for social justice, education, healing.” SeeSawLogoCreated by Amy Sawyers-Williams and Ellen Brown, See Saw works from a participant-centered model, which means that their projects are created “with” communities rather than “for.” They work side-by-side with professional artists and community members who may not consider themselves artists, which allows creation of a project that meets the needs of the community they are working with.

Artistic Director Sawyers-Williams is a theatre artist and arts educator who currently oversees Arts Outreach & Engagement at Arts NC State, is a teaching artist for Raleigh Little Theatre. She is joined at See Saw by Education Director Ellen Brown. They started the company because they saw a need for more interactive theatre for social change in the Triangle.

Although the focus at See Saw is on the development of participant-created works, two “out of the box” offerings are available for presentation in schools and community groups.  Books Got Talent is an interactive drama piece geared towards elementary students in 2nd-4th grade that asks students to think about the role of books and technology in their lives. The Arab Spring Process Drama is an interactive drama created for 8th-12th graders that explores the events leading up to the Tunisian Revolution of 2011. Through placing students in role as Tunisians who have to make difficult choices leading up to the revolution, students learn about this historical event by “living through” and in turn, reflect on parallels to their own lives.

Their initial work has been leading theatre & improv based workshops for leadership development at Durham Academy and their next project will be holding a series of meetups with local artists and community stakeholders who are interested in collaborating on theatre and creative placemaking projects in our community.

You can listen to Sawyers-Williams talk more about See Saw Projects and applied theatre in general in this Artist’s Soapbox podcast, check out their website, or connect with See Saw on Facebook or Twitter (@seesawprojects).

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2018 Cucalorus Indie Film Grants Close Jan 31

Heads up, North Carolina Indie filmmakers – applications are closing on January 31 for the Third Annual “Filmed in NC” Cucalorus Indie Filmmakers Fund.  Funding ranges from $500 to $3,000 per project.

Cucalorus grant program Filmed in NC

Applications are open to permanent residents of North Carolina as well as full-time students at North Carolina colleges and universities. The grant program will fund projects by emerging and established artists with a proven record for producing singular and original work. Additionally, projects should exhibit potential for generating meaningful community impact and substantial economic activity in North Carolina. Funding is prioritized for female filmmakers and African American and Latino artists.  Additional information and an application are available on the Cucalorus website.

Cucalorus is a multi-disciplinary arts organization located in Wilmington, NC; it supports emerging and innovative creative professionals with an annual film festival, a residency program, a summer camp for teen filmmakers, a community cinema, and an extensive community engagement program. The Indie Filmmakers grant program is a project of the Cucalorus Film Foundation made possible through a partnership with the NC Film Office and by a gift from Artless Media in conjunction with The Magnifying Glass.

According to Cucalorus Executive Director Dan Brawley, “The Filmed in NC program holds so many of the values that Cucalorus champions. From celebrating emerging artists to building a sustainable film industry in our state, this program really has the potential to do great things for filmmakers in North Carolina starting from the ground up. There are so many talented people making films in our state, we wish we could fund them all.”

Grant recipients will be announced in March.

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The PIT – Performance Venue & Classroom Space on Franklin Street

We are thrilled to report that 462 West Franklin Street in Chapel Hill is returning to use as a arts performance venue and classroom space. People’s Improv Theater, which has two New York venues already, has recently completed a renovation of the upstairs performance space and bar and “The PIT- Chapel Hill” began welcoming performance acts to their stage on December 16 and are already hosting a weekly Pitch Jam and Open Mic nights. The new stage is handicapped accessible and has flexible space for multiple performance types. Despite the name, The Pit will not be just an improv venue, but is currently open to all genres of performance. “We want to be open 7 nights a week and be a multipurpose arts venue”, explains Will Neville, Artistic Director at The Pit.

Interested?  Here is the form to submit a performance request.

IMG_8621_previewA more dramatic renovation is taking place in the downstairs space at The PIT and in the lobby. The lobby is getting a coffee shop, while the basement will include two classrooms, a podcast recording studio that can be rented out, and a gathering/co-working space for classroom participants, as well as customers of the coffee shop. Classes will start in January. Current offerings include classes on improv and podcasting, but Neville says he is open to discuss proposals for new classes in any arts discipline. Find the current class schedule here.  Contact information is here.

Neville recognizes that the venue is a work in progress. “We want to be here to serve the arts community” and will adapt use of the space and programs to meet that goal.  “Our first year will be very different from our third year”. To find out more about The Pit, visit their website or Facebook page.

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Triangle’s Newest Film Festival Highlights All Aspects of Filmmaking

Beyond Film Festival Announced for The Cary Theater

The Triangle’s newest film Festival “BEYOND: The Film Festival” will be based out of The Cary Theater and seeks to celebrate the many facets of the art of storytelling through film. The Cary is already a hub and resource for the Triangle’s film community, hosting regular Rough Cuts Reviews (free screening nights for local filmmakers), as well as  Zombiepalooza and Sick Chick Flicks Film Festival and regular screens national new and classic independent films. Beyond will be a 4 day event, including workshops and other art forms exploring the Festival theme.Logo_Beyond.TFF_Cary Theater_BW.Reversed

It was The Cary Theater’s focus on cinema that led to creation of the festival.  Operations and Programs Supervisor, Joy Ennis, explains, “When we opened The Cary, we put “launch a signature film festival” on our list of goals. It’s been 3 ½ years and we feel like we’re at a point in our growth to take on a new challenge, so we decided to take the plunge. Our intention has always been to create an event that supports the mission of the theater – to provide a unique setting for cinema and live performance that creates a community centered gathering place in Downtown Cary and makes The Cary an institution in the downtown landscape. Since our primary focus is film – an event that celebrates the magic of this art form seemed like the perfect fit for us.”

Beyond will highlight all aspects of filmmaking, featuring a short film competition and screenplay writing competition. Each year, the festival will explore a new theme and focus on a different aspect of the filmmaking process. “We love the idea of looking “BEYOND” the final product of the finished film. Our intention is to highlight a “behind the scenes” area of filmmaking each year.” Joy added, “We’re starting with screen writing – because it is the bedrock that the film is built on. We envision each year to highlight a new aspect of filmmaking – cinematography, costume design, directing.”

Beyond 2018 – Focusing on Hometown Stories and Scriptwriting

For its opening year, the theme for the screenwriting competition and short films will be “Hometown Stories” and the Festival will explore the foundational aspect of filmmaking – the script. The call for applications elaborates: “Hometown Stories have a sense of place. It is where we grew up. Hometown has resonance of things past, things we hold dear, things we have abandoned. No other place we live will ever have the impact of our hometown. Whether the genre is comedy, drama, documentary or farce, the hometown always becomes a character and exerts its influence over the narrative. Hometown stories tell us about our beliefs, biases, dreams and nightmares. What’s your Hometown Story?”

To apply to this year’s Festival

Competition Short Films must have been completed after January 1, 2016 and should not exceed 30 minutes in length, including credits. All non-English language films must have English subtitles. Each film must follow the theme of “Hometown Stories”, but is not limited to genre.

Screenplays must have been completed after January 1, 2016. Submitted screenplays should be for short films and should not exceed 40 pages in length and written in English. Each film must follow the theme of “Hometown Stories”, but is not limited to genre. Click here to submit<

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Freeman’s Creative Craft Supply Store Opens Nov 10 in Durham Lakewood Reuse Arts District

Amelia Freeman-Lynde opens her new Freeman’s Creative  craft supply shop in the Lakewood Shopping Center on Friday November 10. stackofhats-613x373The shop is the newest addition to the Scrap Exchange’s new Reuse Arts District (RAD) in the Lakewood-Tuscaloosa neighborhood. The shop will complement the Scrap Exchange’s reuse materials with a selection of fabric, yarn, and other handcraft supplies. The store also includes handmade goods from local artists and space for classes and events.

Freeman-Lynde, who relocated to Durham from New York City where she worked as a theatrical propmaker, says she was attracted by Durham’s creative community: “Durham has an incredible creative community, and I want to provide a resource for people of all skill levels to find fun, creative supplies for their projects.” In the true entrepreneurial spirit, she was inspired to open her new store when she was unable to find a yarn store with a knitting group, and decided that it was up to her to open one.

Freeman’s Creative also features two artist’s studios for sublease.  One will be occupied by fabric artist River Takada-Capel, who is already setting up her new space.

In addition to the Freeman’s Creative website, you can follow Freeman’s Creative on Facebook and Instagram.

NCCU Debuts Teaching Artist Certificate Program for Visual and Performing Artists

North Carolina Central University has introduced a new online certificate program for visual and performing artists who want to bolster their arts education credentials. The NCCU Teaching Artist Certificate Program (TACP), will concentrate on skills required to plan, design and implement arts experiences for general audiences, such as auditorium performances, school residencies, and cultural-arts programs for schools and community-based organizations.nccu logo

The Teaching Artists program, offered by the College of Arts and Sciences, is open to junior and senior NCCU students and members of the general public who have either an Associates degree and background in the arts, a Bachelors degree in an arts discipline, or five years as a professional practicing artist with a high school diploma. The 16-hour program consists of seven courses such as Cooperative Learning for Teaching Artists, The Business of Art for Teaching Artists and   Methods and Teaching Practicum for Teaching Artists.

According to According to Carlton E. Wilson, Ph.D., NCCU interim provost and vice chancellor for Academic Affairs, the program is ““The certification is unique to the University of North Carolina System and the first of its kind at a Historically Black College or University.”

More information on the program is available on the NCCU website.

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New Longleaf Arts Grant Supports Programs for Underserved Communities & Spaces

A new art grant was recently announced by Longleaf Collective. Titled “Longleaf Collective – “Engaging Communities in the Arts in Unexpected Ways” the grant targets projects that engage underserved communities or bring art to nontraditional spaces. Here’s more from Longleaf Collective.

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Longleaf Collective Chair, John Coggin, explains its new grant to arts leaders at the Grant Launch Party.

“The Longleaf Collective challenges nonprofits in the Triangle* area to submit proposals for innovative programs that bring art into nontraditional spaces and/or engage underserved communities in the arts in new and creative ways. In particular, the Collective seeks projects that foster art creation in addition to art appreciation and that bridge cultural or social divides. Project proposals are not limited to nonprofits that have a mission specifically focused on the arts, and may involve any artistic medium(s) and serve any population(s) within the Triangle community. Applicants that advance past the initial application will be invited to have a 1-hour conversation with Collective members. (*Organizations in the following counties are eligible to apply: Chatham, Durham, Franklin, Granville, Johnston, Lee, Orange, and Wake.)”

At least one proposal will receive seed funding and volunteer support from Longleaf Collective members in 2018 to explore and/or initiate implementation of their project. The Collective aims to raise between $10,000 and $20,000 for this year’s grant(s).

Triangle arts leaders gather at Longleaf’s arts grant kick-off.

Access the grant application here.  All applications must be submitted online at  by 11:59 PM on September 22, 2017.

The Longleaf Collective is a nonpartisan giving circle of members ages 18-40 that believes in the ability to make a meaningful impact in the state of North Carolina. Through a donation of 0.5% of the salary of each member, the collective will be able to make innovative gifts each year to nonprofits to benefit the citizens and state of North Carolina.

 

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