All organizations and artists operate on some set of basic beliefs, principles and philosophical understandings, even if they don’t or can’t articulate them. BuildaBridge, since it’s founding in 1997, has intentionally developed a personal and social change model that we implement in all our activities and programs. This brief article will provide you with an outline of basic principles for your work with BuildaBridge.
Our motto for working with kids is: Speaking a Blessing into the Life of Every Child Everyday through the Arts. We define a blessing (a universal principle of good will) as speaking and teaching hope and healing into a child’s future through words of truth & encouragement as well as appropriate touch and commitment to the relationship. This is most effectively accomplished when the art-making provides a metaphor for a life lesson. Art as metaphor happens through mature and mentoring relationships between an artist and a child.
Our work is child-focused and arts-integrated. We believe all children have the right to and a need for at least five basic rights: 1) a trusting relationship, 2) love through a compassionate exchange, 3) truth regarding life and the consequences of actions, 4) clear boundaries of behavior; and 5) a safe place for creative play and self-discovery. The arts provide a method,
mode, and vehicle for providing children these “rights”. Our two primary goals of engaging children through art-making are teaching (teaching subjects by integrating the arts) and healing (healing the spirit through the therapeutic power of the arts).
Our work is relational and child centered. The power of art-making with children is in the relationship between the artist and the child in community. Art created in relationship with others bridges barriers, provides an open and trusting environment for expression, and potentially builds a spirit of community. Your work is to be centered on the needs of the child and not those of your artistic ideals.
Our work is holistic and collaborative. We focus on four basic blessings (objectives) in our work with children: artistic excellence, academic improvement, social development, and character/spiritual maturity. We seek, where possible, to involve parents and caregivers in art-making with their children. Recognizing the needs of caregivers, we extend our work to
assist them in their personal development, relationship and nurturing of their children. We develop strong collaborative relationships with individuals and organizations, recognizing that we do not work alone and are part of larger
movement in restorative transformation for the benefit of children and families. We expect you to represent BuildaBridge in maintaining strong bonds of collaboration with our partners.
Our work is purposeful and intentional. We recognize that there are latent benefits of most any arts-focused project or performance. However, employing the arts in an intentional and planned way, we design specific outcomes that lead to the restoration of broken and impoverished individuals and communities. For this reason we expect all artists working with BuildaBridge to thoughtfully write outcomes-focused curricula and projects and to assess their work.
We engage the arts for restorative purposes. What makes art restorative? Restorative art will always point people in a direction that:
- brings an external expression of an inner reality, creating a critical awareness that assists their understanding of their place in the world;
- raises one out of, or improves, a situation in which people find themselves to a better way of thinking, believing, feeling, and ultimately living;
- provides an opportunity to experience a new way of life, to try it on as a rehearsal for change;
- confronts both the evil in society and the consequences of personal actions;
- instills a sense of awe and wonder of the Creator; and, ultimately
- leads to an understanding of one’s purpose in the world, most often expressed in acts of faith and service to others with the goal of creating a better world.
Our work is contextual. The arts are most effective when the context is considered and the constituency is involved in their (the arts) creation. For art-making to have the greatest impact, there is a learning process regarding the “vocabulary” and “rules” –the language- of the art form before there can be a common understanding. While artistic expression both reflects culture and informs experience, it constructs reality in concrete forms. Art is created from beliefs and motivational goals of the artist(s). This construction of reality opens up imaginative possibilities for participants who may not have “seen” their reality previously, and provides a “vision” for the future. (de Gruchy)
Our work is focused on holistic restorative transformation (organic). The goal of transformation is to attain new vision, peace, justice, well-being, and restoration–holistically in the spiritual, social, economic, emotional, physical, and political lives of people, communities and societies.