CONNECTING COMMUNITIES RESIDENCIES
Since its beginnings in 1967, the Arts Center has been known as an innovative, grassroots organization that reaches broad local, regional, and national constituencies while striving to involve nontraditional and underserved arts audiences.
In 1997, Hmong and Hispanic leaders from the Sheboygan community approached the Arts Center. It had become clear that teens/young adults from both cultural minorities had similar problems: they had minimal knowledge of their ancestral cultures and were rejecting them, yet they were not accepted by other minorities or by the mainstream culture, creating a spiritual and cultural limbo that alienated the youth from their elders and peers of other ethnic groups.
The Arts Center and five Community Partners developed Connecting Communities, an ongoing program that brings together superb artists with targeted constituencies who have had little access to the arts in order to collaborate on major original works and, in doing so, unite and strengthen the region. The Partners also determined that, to better integrate the targeted constituencies into the community and give the public a greater understanding of the value of diversity, the general public would be invited to participate in these programs as well.
Commissions have involved a wide range of artists. Remarkable works have been created. Participants ages 2 1/2 to 90+ have had extraordinary experiences and have become partners in the thought processes of artists and other creative people. Many say the experiences have transformed them, changing the way they think, work with others, view the arts, and live their lives. The Arts Center and its fifteen Partners (see Community Partner list) are firm in their resolve to involve only extraordinary emerging and established artists who are committed to enhancing constituencies’ lives and understanding of the arts and whose own careers and lives will, in turn, be impacted by participation in Connecting Communities.
Connecting Communities projects are made possible by vital grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and an anonymous donor. Additional funding and in-kind contributions make the individual projects possible.