There is a Horizon: Bring Arts to Venezuelan Youth

You might have seen Venezuela in the headlines lately...economic crisis, political protests, blackouts...the list continues. While the country has, undoubtedly, been experiencing a crisis, daily life goes on. The question is...for us living here, what can we do for our people? 

MiRA was an answer for us. An answer to a question we didn't even know we were asking...
What can we - artists and producers - do in a time of crisis? 
How can we look forward, versus getting stuck in the trap of the day to day struggles and difficulties that come with hyperinflation and political strife? 
How can we give others a bit of relief, a bit of joy, a reminder that there is something beyond this
 
MiRA was born out of many various ideas. Firstly, Lexi Parra - a US/Venezuelan photographer and co-founder of MiRA - moved to Caracas in June 2018 with a Davis Peace Prize to teach youth photography workshops. Tiuna El Fuerte hosted her workshops and allowed her to travel to various states teaching different communities basic photography. However, Lexi wanted to expand the initiative - bring it to youth who may not be able to get to a cultural center, who don't have the time or resources to dedicate to an art class. Mara Marrero, a fellow co-founder of MiRA, had another idea: work to highlight the museums, galleries and working Venezuelan artists in Caracas; hoping to connect pro artists with the people of CCS and the existing art spaces that fill the city. Any Hidalgo, the third co-found of MiRA, brought the ideas together and - starting in January 2019 - MiRA was born.

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Art, for us, is a tool for transformation. So it only seemed right to create MiRA as an arts education initiative with two branches: 

MiRAenlosLiceos (School Programming) +  
MiRAenlaComunidad (Community Workshops)


We have developed - and are halfway through - our three month pilot system. This works so that every month, we work to complete one theme through both School Programming and Community Workshops: primarily focusing on audiovisual (photography, videography, production) with a side focus in graffiti/drawing and creativing writing. After the three months, the students work with our production team to plan a community event which may be an exhibition, a mural unveiling, etc...as a thank you to those in the community who helped make this program possible.

With one production team, we are able to teach in one community and local school simaltaneously. That reaches over 100 youth ... Imagine if we could fund for three teams to produce in different communities at the same time, how many kids we could reach? 


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Our project is more than a workshop series: we are looking to create sustainable change through art. We are looking to teach in schools, firstly, as a way to reach youth from different communities in one space. Yet, more importantly, we see there is a lack of programming in local schools due to teachers fleeing the crisis. So, MiRA can help fill scheduling holes as well as bring art education to a formal setting. Then, we also have our Community Workshops, which work to break the class divide when it comes to art. People can create in any space - a studio, the street, or their very own neighborhood corner.

As we continue each three-month cycle, we are looking forward to creating opportunities for some of our community participants in order for them to continue their learning, as well as have access to various cultural spaces and different artists in Caracas. This may look like a group visit to a museum or studio to start and, in the longer-term, an apprenticeship with a local artist or job with a television studio. 

Our School and Community programming will plant seeds in various barrios in order to - through establishing a network between participants and MiRA instructors - mentor youth and create a bridge between the community and the art world. Participants will have the opportunity to create a lasting relationship with MiRA where they can

a. receive mentorship as they continue learning
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b. create art by, of and for their specific neighborhood which we will highlight on our social media platforms.

We hope that, by creating a link between the youth and the world and showing their art...by showing their reality...our students can find joy and agency in expressing themselves. Eventually, with our mentorship, we will create connections that could lead to more serious change: like assistantships, job opportunities - even becoming a MiRA instructor for younger youth in their area! The knowledge we want to share is not just to give, but to teach how we all need to give back and share the knowledge and joy that come from art. Art - be it photography, writing, graffiti, music - is a way to transform one's reality, to give joy and should be available to all - not just a few. 


While this all sounds great in theory, creating a project here in Venezuela is difficult. We, as MiRA, have: 

* people (a permanent production team of 5)
* a network of workshop facilitators
* community support
* institutions willing to lend their spaces 
* institutions offering verification for our workshop certification 

However, to create a lasting presence with our students and work towards these long-term goals of change in Caracas' communities, we are looking to reach $5,000 for ONE YEAR of programming...

* provide our team of 5 basic monthly salaries in order to dedicate their time to MiRA 
* give an honorarium for our instructors' time
* buy ingredients for lunch during our full workshop days
* produce small knick knacks to gift our Community Workshop participants 
* print flyers and certificates 
* print t-shirts for local and national fundraising campaigns 
* buy 5 basic digital cameras to lend out to a few committed community participants, so they can continue a mentorship with MiRA beyond the workshop


Since our launch in January 2018, we have taught hundreds of youth -- with limited resources and volunteers. If we reach this goal, we can put infrastructure in place to expand our programs and reach more youth!

Interested in reaching out or collaborating in some way, shape or form? Email us and/or message us on FB or IG: 

@miravzla

Each and every dollar is a step forward in launching a sustainable, grassroots arts education initiative for the youth of Caracas. While the headlines talk about protests and hyperinflation - all real issues - we at MiRA want to create a moment of relief, learning and self-expression for the youth here. We in Venezuela are not all politicians, protestors nurses or soldiers...we are also moms, kids, students and - even in times of crisis - deserve to enjoy our time and remember: 

MiRA: Hay Un Horizonte // Look, There is a Horizon
 
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Donations

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  • joel & lori cheney 
    • $300 
    • 8 mos
  • Anonymous 
    • $150 
    • 8 mos
  • Lori Weissman 
    • $50 
    • 9 mos
  • Anonymous 
    • $50 
    • 9 mos
  • Sarah Moeller 
    • $100 
    • 9 mos
See all

Organizer

Lexi Parra 
Organizer
Saint Paul, MN
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