Fact Sheet


What is Artist on Call (AOC)?

AOC is the name we have given to all personnel working with BuildaBridge in a volunteer capacity.  BuildaBridge is primarily a volunteer organization (including our co-founders, board and chief officers). Creative artists–along with educators, social service workers and medical personnel who integrate creativity in their work–are invited to become an Artist on Call.

How do I become an Artist on Call?

Here is the process:

  1. Send an email of inquiry to ncorbitt@buildabridge.org (he will refer you to our Coordinator)
  2. You name will be placed on an “On-Call” mailing list.  You will be considered an AOC-Amber until you complete the basic process.  Once the process and training is complete you will be updated to AOC-Green and be ready to serve in the field.
  3. Complete a profile on BuildaBridge People
  4. Have an interview by phone or in person
  5. Begin training for AOC through on-ground and on-line courses
  6. Plan your fund raising or support for an upcoming service opportunity in the US or abroad.
  7. Respond to a call.  This can be on a 24 hour notice, or a longer trip planning for up to 6 months in advance.

How (exactly) does BuildaBridge work with artists?

BuildaBridge enlists artists who have the desire to serve vulnerable populations by using their gifts as tools for education, empowerment, hope and healing.   BuildaBridge connects artists with organizations that wish to integrate arts in their already existing programs. Artists are trained with the basic skills to work with vulnerable populations.  This includes working with at-risk children and families, curriculum writing, cross-cultural skills, and more.

How long does it take to learn therapeutic arts methods?

Becoming a creative art therapist takes several years of university training that results in a certification.  BuildaBridge does have certified creative art therapists who work with us.  BuildaBridge also understands that art-making is also therapeutic–just making art is healing.  So BuildaBridge, in our training institute, teaches some basic skills in using art in therapeutic ways–understanding the healing and life-changing power of art-making.  We also teach about the arts in economic development, spiritual or character development, community development, and education.

Does BuildaBridge use different techniques for different artists?

Yes and No.  Some skills are the same for every artist–like writing curriculum and working with at-risk populations.  However, in our training programs we have teachers from different arts backgrounds that teach the skills of their art forms.

Where are the countries BuildaBridge has worked?

The BuildaBridge Institute is centered in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA.  We have participants from around the world who attend each year since 2002, when we began the Institute.  We have also conducted trainings in Latin America (Costa Rica, Mexico and Brazil), Asia (Malaysia) and Europe (Netherlands, Slovakia, Republic of Georgia).  Our goal is to provide training for artists, youth and development workers, and teachers in effective methods for using the arts in their work.

We also conduct direct service with children, youth, families and communities.  We call this arts relief.  With direct service we cooperate with local artists to provide arts programs to meet the needs, with a goal of sustainability.  We have worked this way in Africa (Rwanda) and Latin America (Brazil, Costa Rica, Mexico).  We also lead choirs and other artists, and students on Goodwill missions where they perform, learn about culture, and build bridges of peace and understanding.  We have done this in Africa (Kenya, South Africa), Latin America (Brazil, Costa Rica, Mexico) and Europe (Netherlands, Germany, Italy, Slovakia and the Republic of Georgia).  Our goal for the future is to establish collaborations with established organizations working with children in countries that want to more effectively use the arts for healing and education.

How do you know what the results are with the children you work with? Do you evaluate (and how)?

We utilize pre and post tests. We evaluate the condition of the beneficiaries before starting the work with them and measure both qualitative and quantitative improvements after the period of intervention is completed. Much of this is done through observation.  We require reporting from our teachers.  We also ask the local organization to evaluate the work.

How do you communicate with the children on these trips? Translators, or no?

Sometimes our artists know the local language. When this is not the case, we try to get a local artist of the same discipline to collaborate with the visiting artist. In other situations, we look for translators. The local organization is expected to provide a translator, but generally we have to pay for this service.

What type of people typically come on these trips to help? JUST Artists, therapists?

The Art Relief and Diaspora of Hope trips are mainly artists who are prepared to do direct serve through their artistic gifts. The role of BuildaBridge is to involve and connect them with organizations that need arts integrated intervention and education. The artists respond to the criteria and skills requested by the organization seeking aid. BuildaBridge then selects and trains the right candidate to work in the field.  Because of our experience, we are able to work with the local organization to determine the need and plan a program that meets the need.

What do you offer on these trips? And, what are you offering their organization?

We offer both training and direct service.  In both offerings we collaborate with the local organization.  So for example in a training institute we enlist local experts to teach with our own experts that come from other countries.  In working with children and youth directly, we ask local artists to work at the same time.

When we travel to a location, the visiting BuildaBridge artists pays for their own travel and living expenses.  We ask the local organization to assist with local needs, where possible, in order to create a collaborative partnership.  This may include providing translators, enlisting local artists, providing a homestay, or other service.  Recently we have also begun writing joint grants for long-term program development.

Do you prefer to work with specific age groups? Or will you work with any?

We work with the beneficiaries of the collaborating organization in the field. Usually this means children. Nonetheless, we offer our services to elderly people, women, and others, depending on the need of the local organization and community.


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