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Why We Formed, AfA’s Introduction

January 25, 2009

img_2826Art has existed as long as humans have graced the earth. We should question, as a collective society, whether we take advantage of all of the gifts that art has to offer. Humanitarian and development organisations routinely focus on the absolute necessities of the impoverished—as they should—yet they often overlook the most basic and fundamental right of every individual:

The freedom of expression.

It is this freedom of expression that has the power to inspire people to uplift themselves out of poverty and to act for change. Generous people from developed nations can provide food, clothing, shelter and protection, but what comes after this? Education. And the arts. We recognise the value of traditional education. But art teaches what multiplication tables can not. Art stimulates creativity that strengthens confidence and fosters problem solving.

People who have experienced the most extreme traumas such as war, disease, abuse, as well as those who simply feel disconnected, struggle to use their innate abilities to fight for survival or to just find the inspiration to face a new day need art. Painting, telling stories through theatre, performing traditional dances and singing songs are all creative tools that touch our hearts and reach into our inner most passions. Art sets us free.

This is the purpose behind Artfully AWARE—to stir up the artistic senses of communities that have been deprived of creativity for extended periods of time. Developing countries through Africa, Asia and Latin American have rich histories of artistic traditions. It is mainly due to poverty, repressive governance or lack of opportunity that the arts stop flourishing and people can no longer find their artistic voice.

These voices will soon be heard again. Art no longer belongs only to patrons of galleries, concert enthusiasts or ballet attendees. Art should be enjoyed by all, as well as created by all.

Art, in all its forms, can be life saving. Artfully AWARE intends to work closely with community members to motivate them to obtain a higher quality of life and gain strength. Only when their psychological well-being is addressed and they find the impetus within themselves, can people overcome negative situations and transform the world in which they live.

Hilary Wallis

Founder and Executive Director

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