Win-Win. Fresh Artists

May 23, 2013 § Leave a comment

Fresh Artists

Win-Win.  Part III.  Fresh Artists.

An NBC mainstay for over 27 years – “Today Show” correspondent and then co-host, creator of “Real Life with Jane Pauley” which morphed into weekly news magazine “Dateline” – veteran reporter Jane Pauley returned to the network fold with a monthly series, in partnership with AARP, “Life Reimagined TODAY.”  Each month, she tells the story of an intrepid soul who has started a new, life-changing career after the age of 50.  As you can imagine, the stories are meant to inspire, and they do.  With that said, the tales told do not shy away from the challenges and difficulties inherent in what amounts to a metamorphosis.  Put bluntly, they’re worth watching.

Last week, she profiled Barbara Chandler Allen, co-founder, along with her son Roger, of Philadelphia-based, nonprofit organization Fresh Artists.  Facing a divorce, the stay-at-home-mother, who had been out of the workforce for twenty years, was in search of a second act.  A local radio station delivered it.  While volunteering at her son Roger’s school, she heard a radio interview with the new school superintendent.  She pulled to the side of the road, called into the station and invited the superintendent to visit the school.  He returned the invitation and offered her a job.  “Fill an 850,000-square-foot space with children’s art.”

Given the enormity of the school headquarter’s space, hanging small, framed paintings would not cut it.  That’s where her son Roger comes in.  He suggested photographing the children’s pieces, enlarging them as much as possible and printing them using large format digital printing.  The result was big, bold, colorful art.  And other people wanted it – corporations with massive office spaces to fill.

That became the start of Fresh Artists, where they are tackling an urgent problem – the lack of funding for arts education in local public schools.  Here’s how it works:

  • Creative kids donate images of their artwork to raise funds to help other kids.
  • Businesses donate funds to keep art making alive for kids in under-funded public schools.
  • Kids give large-scale digital reproductions of their artwork to corporate donors as thank-you gifts.

Teachers win – they get supplies and arts instruction.  Children win – they receive arts education that may otherwise not be possible.  Child artists win – they see their pieces blown up and on display, they maintain ownership of their work, they get the thrill of helping other children.  Corporations win – they acquire fabulous works of art by children, the payment of which goes to help educate the students.

In response to Jane Pauley’s comment towards the end of the segment, “Win-Win,” Ms. Allen counters with, “Win-Win-Win- Win.  The wins never stop.  I saw a problem and we had the toolkit to fix it.”  And in doing, she so has accomplished something that many others have failed to do: she has found a way to have the private sector help with the challenges facing public education.  Creativity defined.

What is your quadruple win?

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