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Elsewhere grant to fund unique summer residency

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Elsewhere Studios has been awarded a grant to participate in a unique residency program.

Elsewhere announced last spring that it was among 21 grant recipients from a field of over 265 applicants selected to participate in the "Arts in Society" initiative. Launched in 2016, Arts in Society is a collaboration between the Bonfils-Stanton Foundation, Colorado Creative Industries and the Hemera Foundation and is administered by the RedLine Contemporary Art Center.

With the $25,000 grant, Elsewhere established "INSPIRED: Art at Work," a two-month residency program to allow three artists to work closely with other artists, partner organizations, scientists and policy makers to create "socially-engaged artworks." Projects will address issues like culture, environment, development, values under threat by the possibility of hydraulic fracturing, and loss of jobs.

The project provides a way to engage the community in looking to the future as it transitions from an extractive-based economy while seeking a more healthy and sustainable economy, said Elsewhere executive director Karen Good.

In a press release, Gary Steuer with Bonfils-Stanton said the initiative "responds to the growing desire of artists and arts organizations to use their creativity and talents to make a difference in their community. At the same time those engaged in issues like education, poverty, public safety and health increasingly are looking to the arts as a partner in their work. We embrace this opportunity so support this work in our community."

Most of the grant recipients are located in urban areas, which makes receiving the grant all that more special, said Good. Grantors will help with the design and evaluation process for the projects and will meet with other grant recipients. "It's a really rich opportunity for Elsewhere," said Good.

Elsewhere's residency program already attracts world-class artists to participate in one- to six-month residencies. While in the North Fork area artists have an opportunity to immerse themselves in the community and the culture, said Good. "The experience is often life-changing." Artists often have never spent time away from the city. The residency allows them an opportunity to experience the outdoors, agriculture and small-town community, and to be creative in new and unique settings.

The Western Slope Conservation Center, Citizens for a Healthy Community, the Farm and Food Alliance, Solar Energy International, and the North Fork Valley Creative Coalition will collaborate on the project.

Data from North Fork Heart & Soul Project's Vision 2020, a two-year project funded by a grant from the Orton Family Foundation, will provide a basis for the projects. Heart & Soul identified the rural and natural environment, small-town feel and sense of community, a steady economy, freedom, independence and personal responsibility, and traditions and heritage as values that matter most to those who call the North Fork area their home.

Two artists from out of the area and one local artist will be selected and will be named early next year. Artists will use the six months between now and next summer to prepare for their residency and identify their projects, said Good. A scientific panel with representatives from each of the project's partners and volunteers from the community will help identify possible projects.

What the projects will look like depends on many factors, so it's impossible to say what they might be, said Good. "It's kind of exciting."

At the conclusion of the project, Elsewhere and its partners plan a weekend symposium highlighting the projects.

Other grants to fund the project are pending, said Good. An AmeriCorps VISTA member is arriving at Elsewhere this week. During her year in Paonia she will manage the INSPIRE project and help with capacity building efforts for Elsewhere. Having that kind of help "is huge for us," said Good.

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