VIVA Launch: Roots and Bridges

VIVA! Community Arts and Popular Education in the Americas

¡VIVA! Community Arts and Popular Education in the Americas is a literary and transnational research project than spans five years and five countries. It integrates “place, politics, passion, and praxis” in the focus of building and sustaining community engagement and education through the arts. Included in the book, is a DVD of nine videos that showcase the ¡VIVA! project’s growth and evolution, and bringing it to life.

The event was hosted in a space provided by the Native Canadian Centre in the Annex, which is where the project was first implemented exactly eight years prior. That conference, “Harvesting Stories: Popular Education in Social Movements in the Americas” would shape and develop the ¡VIVA! project, picking up many people, stories, and ideas long the way.

As the project began to grow trans-nationally, ¡VIVA! showcased many different styles of education and artistic community engagement. Specifically, it also strives to identify certain tensions that exist among these programs, projects, and artistic movements. Below are brief overviews of just a few partner projects that are featured and make up the core of this book.

Kuna Children’s Art Project (Kuna Yala, Panama)
The Kuna people are an indigenous population living in Panama, specifically the Kuna Yala region which is home to more than 365 islands and over 36,000 inhabitants. The Children’s Art Project was developed through a variety of artistic mediums (drawing, murals, theatre, puppetry, crafting, music, and dance) delivered via workshops. Integrated with both Kuna and non-Kuna artists, the focus was in structuring the creative possibilities of Kuna children and youth to recover their cultural roots. Due to a lack of sufficient documentation, the ¡VIVA! Project’s main initiative in this program was to help ‘recover this experience by interviewing artists, animators, and participants.’

ArtsBridge, Changing Positions: Bridging the University and the City through Arts Education (Los Angeles, California – UCLA)

ArtsBridge is an education and outreach program that was developed through the School of Art and Architecture at the University of California. Its principle goals is to link students to community arts and social justice groups and schools for community learning.  The program also focuses on the under-representation of the African-American and Latino community in Los Angeles arts communities – examining the root causes in post-secondary education and developing academic and professional skills, arts development, curating, organization building, and more.

Jumblies Theatre/York University Bridge of One Hair (Toronto, Canada)

Over the past decade, Jumblies Theatre has operated with York University in diverse neighbourhoods and communities to develop long-term projects in a multidisciplinary, artistic mindset. They have facilitated large-scale productions that involve the participation of both professional and public outreach. ‘The Bridge of the Hair’ project is a partnership between Montgomery’s Inn and Toronto Community Housing with a specific focus on the Mabelle community that houses many new immigrants and refugees from the Caribbean, Korea, Somalia, Russia, and Poland. This partnership began in 2005 with a 12-week program engaging youth (ages 12-16) in storytelling, photography, puppet-making, spoken word, video production, installation, and performance

To learn more about all partner projects and their objectives, as well as the ¡VIVA! story and its vision, visit the project’s home page here.

You can also buy it now at Between the Lines.

$24.95 CAD; Paperback; 240 pages; ISBN 9781926662510

Alex Pollard is the Fall 2012 Intern at the Neighbourhood Arts Network


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