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July 13, 2012

ArtStarts Summer Dreaming Retreat 2012

Last week we hosted the first annual ArtStarts Summer Dreaming Retreat. Staff, volunteers, board members, artists, educators and community friends spent the day together to dream big and develop the direction of ArtStarts’ next big leap.

We enjoyed the first really hot, sunny day of Vancouver's summer with a gorgeous view of False Creek from our room in the Creekside Community Centre. Facilitated by the always-energetic Dianna David, we began with an icebreaker activity that had everyone up on their feet, shaking their bodies to greet one another like aliens. (In our minds, aliens are  very friendly and a wee bit silly.) Obviously, the day was off to a good start!

Then we put on our thinking caps and started brainstorming ... or more like dreamstorming. (Is there such a word?) We looked to ArtStarts' mission for inspiration:

"ArtStarts in Schools provides innovative arts programs for young people, practical resources for teachers and artists, and leadership in advocacy for arts in education."

We reflected on our own life experiences to explore ideas that are innovative, practical and relate to advocacy. We then made connections to these ideas and ArtStarts' potential… like using bikes to power a mobile performance stage, forming car-sharing networks for touring artists, or creating a treasure hunt for young people's artwork in communities across BC… This activity got us to imagine BHAGs, or Big Hairy Audacious Goals. These are ideas that might seem impossible or impractical at first, but with a little love, care and attention, just might work after all.

Working in groups, our next task was to create a pitch, imagining we were actually seeking funding to make one idea a reality.

Six talented members of the local arts and business communities generously agreed to act as our judging panel. The panel listened to our pitches, asked questions and then — armed with a limited pile of special ArtStarts $5,000 bills — they each decided which projects they would fund, and how much.

Even though the pitches were hypothetical, the panel did such an amazing job at asking great questions and giving us insightful feedback. We all learned a lot about fundraising and how to bring projects to life. And some of us ended up with a fistful of money! (Oh wait, those bills are fake...)

We rounded off the day with a loud, boisterous jam session with Boris Sichon, who let us play with his array of international instruments, including Spanish tejoletas, Tibetan crotales, maracas, drums, horns and more.

The team at ArtStarts would like to extend a huge thank you to everyone who took time out of a sunny day to join us for the ArtStarts Summer Dreaming Retreat. We really appreciate your enthusiasm, creativity, thoughtfulness, brainstorming skills, playfulness and passion. We are so proud and thankful to be surrounded by such a bright and devoted community. We ended the day feeling inspired — and we hope you did, too.

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