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Spotlight on the Arts

by | Sep 16, 2022 | ShiftHappens

“Art is unquestionably one of the purest and highest elements in human happiness. It trains the mind through the eye, and the eye through the mind. As the sun colors flowers, so does art color life.”  – John Lubbock, author 

When I joined TPP in January of 2020, I received dozens of welcome messages from grantees all over the world. One in particular stood out- both for its warmth, and because the person writing it happened to live just in the next town over from me. Steve Barr was the first Pollination Project grantee I met in person, and I was immediately won over by his kindness and talent. Meeting Steve was perhaps the best orientation to The Pollination Project I could have received.

Steve is a professional cartoonist. When a dear friend’s young son was diagnosed with Leukemia, he wanted to find a way to help. His friend suggested that he spend some time with the patients at the pediatric hospital, and perhaps even teach a few of them to draw. From that very first visit, Steve knew he was onto something powerful, and each subsequent visit reaffirmed this.

Steve received his first grant from The Pollination Project, which helped him purchase art supplies and pay for travel expenses to various children’s hospitals. Today, that seed of an idea has blossomed into “Drawn to Help,” a network of cartoonists and illustrators who volunteer to augment child life and art therapy programs for sick children. “Drawn to Help” has received national attention, including from the Ryan Seacrest Foundation, whose Seacrest Studios broadcasts interactive “Drawn to Help” lessons throughout a handful of pediatric units.

Steve is one of 533 artists across 63 countries whose social impact projects have received support over the last ten years.

Others include young heroes like Isabella Hanson who created the “I Matter” national poetry competition to amplify young voices, raising awareness about racial injustices and civil unrest in the U.S;

Filmmakers like Carly Wilson in Australia, working on wildlife conservation issues. Her documentary “Rubber Jellyfish” about marine debris has been screened more than 60 times all around the world and has directly resulted in improvements to litter legislation in both Australia and the United States;

Musicians like Daniel Rubins who founded “Hear Your Song,” a non-profit organization that empowers children and teens with serious illnesses to make their voices heard through collaborative songwriting. In live songwriting sessions, Hear Your Song volunteers work with children and teens to guide them through the process of writing their own song lyrics. Then, in collaboration with more volunteers, they set those words to music and record the song to be heard, celebrated, and shared;

And Carolyn Herlehy and the Biketopia Music Collective, which brings together musicians, cyclists, puppeteers, artists and activists, mobilizing for climate justice through bicycle-powered music festivals.The Biketopia Music Collective (BMC) provides an interactive musical experience exclusively transported and powered by bicycles! Their unique events harness electrical energy produced by the spinning wheels of their parked touring bikes in real-time, blending the line between performer and observer. Crowds are enlivened as a crucial part of the performance, because when they stop pedaling the music cuts out. The Biketopia Music Festival provides a living symbol of community power, and the off-grid nature of the bicycle-sound system allows environmentally friendly festivals in a myriad of locations.

The creativity evidenced in this focus area is inspiring, as is the desire of these changemakers to use their gifts in service of a kinder, more compassionate world.

This is a map of other arts projects funded from around the globe:

Written by Carolyn Ashworth