Art for Refugees in Transition: Cultural Preservation Initiative
The project in brief
Art For Refugees in Transition (A.R.T.)
A.R.T. allies with local refugee populations to design curriculum that facilitates transmission and preservation of inter-generational cultural practices often lost during displacement.
A.R.T. recognizes that refugees still have significant needs that exist after basic needs of health, food, and shelter have been fulfilled. A.R.T. focuses on personal development and community building within refugee populations in their new, foreign countries. A.R.T. recognizes the importance of cultural preservation and alliances with these groups to developing curricula to “re-establish the inter-generational relationships rooted in their own culture”.The goal of the organization is to assist displaced and marginalized populations in creating self-sustaining training and education programs to ensure the transmission of cultural practices from one generation to the next, anchoring in a sense of generational continuity in the midst of changing and charged geographical borders .
VIDEO (Part I): A.R.T.’s first program in Colombia - Así Cantaba el Niño Conde
A collaboration with Colombia-based Fundación Educación Nuevo Retiro has enabled the establishment of local partnerships that support the integration and upward mobility of the refugee community.
- Fundación Educación Nuevo Retiro
- Colegio Punta Canoa
Challenges and how they were overcome
Funding continues to be a challenge, as the United States' continuous proposed budget cuts threaten its capacity to fund international humanitarian work.
Financial support for programs such as these is difficult to find. A.R.T. and its partners are working together to overcome this challenge.
Results of the Good Practice
- A.R.T. programming supports community-building within displaced and marginalized populations, with research pointing to the importance of utilizing peer/former refugees to facilitate community integration.
- A.R.T. focuses on community well-being and cultural preservation throughout the resettlement process to best meet the diverse needs of the refugee population and to foster "strength, resilience and capacity within the community".
VIDEO (Part II): A.R.T.’s first program in Colombia - Así Cantaba el Niño Conde
How the project meets the GCR Objectives
Objective 2: Enhance refugee self-reliance
A.R.T. promotes the preservation of indigenous art forms and cultural practices for displaced communities. The mission of A.R.T. is to develop self-sustaining programming for refugees to equip them with the tools to rebuild and preserve their communities. A.R.T. embraces a reverse-colonialist ethos whereby its sheds the role of expert and embraces the local knowledge of refugee populations. Refugees are often cast as solely beneficiaries of services rather than investors in their community. Individuals aspiring for upward mobility are then crippled by a view that they must depend on others to get out of their current situation. A.R.T. assists refugees in enacting strategic agency to think and plan long-term rather than on the immediate situation, supplanting abstract aspirations with specific plans and bridges to current situations to lifelong opportunities. A.R.T. seeks to empower community members to invest in future generations and instill a sense of pride and identity that is so often compromised in the throes of resettlement.
The project will continue indefinitely. The goal of A.R.T. is for its programs to become self-sustained, which is accomplished once the local population has the tools it needs to establish its teaching curriculum to ensure preservation of cultural practices. A doctorate student from the University of Southern California joins the team in December to assist in implementation of the program. Additionally, this student will complete research with the intention of publishing in order to provide literature on the needs of the Venezuelan refugee situation, of which little data currently exists.
VIDEO: A.R.T.’s most recent visit to Punta Canoa that captures the local students singing a traditional song. These students, despite living in stark poverty, attend school
everyday in their uniforms, which they keep in immaculate condition.
Sara Green, Founder and Executive Director, A.R.T.
Chelsea Rivera, OTL/R, University of Southern California doctorate student and resident at A.R.T