Starr Commonwealth launches its Art of Resilience Project

By C. L. Price
First printed in the Michigan Chronicle

Art of Resilience

The Art of Resilience Festival will be held on August 10, 2014 at the Carr Center in Detroit.

Resilience is a major part of Detroiters’ DNA. That’s the premise of Starr Commonwealth’s Art of Resilience Project focused on showcasing the strength and creativity of young Detroiters.

The campaign will kick off this summer when it launches the Starr Summer Youth Festival.

This new one-day event is designed to showcase visual and performing arts projects created by young people, age 6 -18, attending summer youth programs throughout Detroit.

The young performers will tell their stories of resilience through the visual and performing arts. The festival will take place on Sunday, Aug. 10 at the Virgil H. Carr Cultural Arts Center and nearby Paradise Valley Park.

With more than 100 years’ experience in serving as an advocate for children, Starr Commonwealth is uniquely suited to head the effort.

“We believe it’s time to recognize and celebrate young people and the many acts of resilience we witness every day. We want to help them tell their stories and that’s why we are proud to introduce the Art of Resilience Project,” said Dr. Martin Mitchell, president and CEO of Starr Commonwealth.

The multimedia effort, aimed at showcasing the artistic efforts of Detroit’s youngest residents, promises to feature a cross-section of artists, musicians, dancers and poets who, together, create a canvas that is uniquely Detroit.

“Art serves as a creative expression of our inner soul, showcasing our inner strength, determination and grit,” said Oliver Ragsdale, president of the Virgil H. Carr Cultural Arts Center, one of the largest minority arts organizations in the state of Michigan.

The Next Chapter

The Art of Resilience Project represents a long-term storytelling initiative, said to John Hollingsworth, project director and communications director at Starr Commonwealth.

“In addition to the Starr Summer Youth Festival, which we hope will become a much-anticipated annual event, the
project will feature ongoing activities that will chronicle and promote the strengths and resilience of Detroit’s young people, neighborhoods and community advocates,” he said.

Though Starr Commonwealth conceived of the Art of Resilience Project, Dr. Mitchell doesn’t view it as a one-organization initiative.

“In order for the Art of Resilience Project to be successful, we need the participation of like-minded community partners – individuals and organizations who like us see, and want to encourage, the best in young people,” he said.

“We have really just started The Art of Resilience. Already we have some great partners on board and are open to others who would like to support the project.”

To date, ARISE Detroit!, New Detroit, Inc., City Connect Detroit, the Michigan Chronicle, the Carr Center and the City
of Detroit Recreation Department have joined in supporting the initiative.

“Given all that Detroit has gone through this past decade, it’s important that we pause to recognize and celebrate our tenacity,” said Luther Keith, executive director of ARISE Detroit! and an Art of Resilience advisory group member.

“While the media often focuses on the negative challenges Detroiters face, this campaign provides an opportunity for the community to tell its own unique stories.”

Luther Keith is also former editor of the Detroit News in addition to being an accomplished musician.

Ultimately, organizers hope to further unify Detroiters under a banner of hope, progress and celebration.

“There are some great things happening with young people across Detroit,” said Hollingsworth.

“Hundreds of inspiring community organizations and programs are empowering young people to make positive, often very creative, contributions to their neighborhoods and the city.

“By highlighting their stories of resilience we hope to tackle some of the negative stigma our young people can come up against. Together, we can make a real difference.”

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