To offer tangible support and career development for the local creative community, we launched the Harvester Arts Fellowship program in 2017. Harvester Arts worked with seven local artists to create a focused community of artists to foster dialog, offer practical support and feedback, professional development, exhibition development, and networking opportunities on a national scale.
For 2019-2020, we re-framed our Community Fellows program to recruit and train the next class of fellows as creative placemakers and socially engaged artists with community impact at the core of their operations. We are providing mentorship, financial and practical support, and training for creative entrepreneurs.
Once creatives are empowered and trained as viable cultural producers with solid budgets, and identifiable and measurable goals, they become their own engines of creative placemaking. Artists need tools and agency to be effective drivers of these efforts in their communities and to execute projects that don’t just use artists’ talents but really foster growth and develop local creative resources.
The Community Fellows program is generously supported by the Knight Foundation Fund at the Wichita Community Foundation.
Beyond: Wichita is an audio storytelling project led by Paris “Paris Jane” Cunningham. Her goal is to find common ground between Wichitans who feel disconnected from each other by sharing their true-life stories in their own words.
Storytelling, audio documentation, and video documentation are the primary components of this project. A series of pop-up recording booths and storytelling sessions will collect and share perspectives about Wichitans’ relationship with our city. The project will culminate in a live storytelling event that will be recorded and made available in podcast format.
Using the Harvester Arts Community Fellowship Program as a platform, I am creating a local arts-based campaign to increase voter turnout, civic engagement, and dialogue on modern political issues. This project will focus on engagement from first-generation immigrants, especially those from Asian and Asian-American backgrounds.
This campaign includes a series of art-based workshops to educate community members on important aspects of voting while providing multilingual and culture-oriented resources. Community members will engage in creating multilingual postcards and door-hangers as pieces of art to be canvassed and distributed in Wichita, KS neighborhoods. As the election season nears, programming will include interviews, tabling, canvassing, and campaigning to increase voter engagement.
Camera for the Commons is a collaborative public art project that gives the community agency in creating room-scale camera obscuras in multiple Wichita neighborhoods. By making visible to others the value of representation, C4C highlights public spaces which define the identity of these communities. Through a series of community workshops, led by Hugo Zelada-Romero, participants will collectively create the shape of the immersive camera obscura sculpture. This large scale camera projects a live image that isn’t frozen in time but rather moves forward with us as a living image that reflects striving towards the future and progress of the community.
The goals of the program include:
Empowering individuals with the skills and training to become cultural producers in Wichita, with a focus within downtown and surrounding neighborhoods as stipulated by the Knight Foundation.
Fellows are participating in training sessions on event production and planning facilitated by Harvester Arts. These sessions were held in the fall of 2019 and supported by funding from the Kansas Creative Arts Industries Commission. Sessions focused on four central topics:
Fellows are responsible for planning the following events:
The capstone project, event, or happening must meet the following criteria:
All Fellows efforts will be supported by Harvester Arts staff and outside mentors serving as guides in the process.
Each Fellow will be given a personal stipend of $2500 per year to support their time dedicated to these projects and seed money of $8,000 for the production of their capstone project. Fellows will be expected to raise additional funds. Harvester Arts will work with the Fellows to develop fundraising strategies to leverage this seed funding and fully cover the needs of each project.
The fellowship for the second class is coming to a close. Stay tuned for details about future community fellows opportunities.
Our first class of Community Fellows was: Cheyla Clawson Chandler (dance, sociology), Hallie Linnebur & Meghan Miller (performance, community organizing), A.P. Vague (writing, media), Kristen Phipps (painting), Kevin Kelly (painting), Amanda Pfister (photography, community organizing).