What were the specific goals of this creative economy project? Describe the community development challenge or opportunity that your project was designed to address:
WE ARE sought to address the Immigrant crisis while celebrating the historic and present day contributions immigrants make to our communities and country. Our goal of honoring the individual consisted of creating extremely large portraits displayed in prominent places throughout the city, which served to bring the community together, and helped bring immigrants out of the shadows. WE ARE started by honoring them through the subject selection process, and inclusion in a very visible statement of individual significance and dignity. The exhibition was a giant welcome card giving the broader community a sense of recognition and value. By installing the work on one of the country’s most historic greens and on its iconic churches a visible link was made between the immigrants who founded the country and today’s immigrants who are being vilified. New Haven was chosen to reinforce the concept of a sanctuary city, and to support the Mayor and her policies toward immigration. The exhibit served as a catalyst for dialog and awareness about immigration for the more than 1.5 million people exposed to the work through the 70 foot high mural on the Pirelli building along I-95, on the proscenium walls of the stage for the International Festival of Arts and Ideas seen by 250,000 attendees, by congregants for International Refugee Day, by the national gathering of Clergy held in Trinity Church on the Green, by the 800 who attended the opening. Using the rubric developed by Americans for the arts, WE ARE can claim partial responsibility for bringing at least $108,000 into the New Haven community.
If the goals change over time, please describe how:
Who was involved in this project and what did they do? (be sure to include the partners from outside of the creative sector and how local voices were included):
The project had a broad and diverse group of supporters and partners, which included:
PROJECT ORIGINATOR, CREATIVE DIRECTOR, PRODUCTION DIRECTOR:
Joe Standart, President, Portrait of America®,
GENERAL ADVISORS: - organization, outreach, community links:
Jennifer Aniskovich, J.D.,Non-profit Advisor
Duo Dickinson, Architect, Trinity Church Partner
IMMIGRANT AND REFUGEE ORGANIZATIONS, Each person provided access to potential subjects and helped navigate permissions and legalities.
- Executive Director, IRIS
- Community Engagement, IRIS
- Junta For Progressive Action
- Director, Immigrant Rights & Racial - - - Justice Center for Community Change,
- Washington, DC
- Director, Unidad Latina en Accion
ARTS ORGANIZATIONS: Helped with Permissions, guidance, promotion, and press:
- Director, City of New Haven, Department of Arts, Culture and Tourism
- Director, International Festival of Arts & Ideas, He embraced the exhibit placing portraits on the covers of the catalog, on the center stage proscenium and encouraged other programming
- Director, The Arts Council of Greater New Haven
- Creative Director, Mission Design: designed web site and graphic Identity
- The Community Foundation for Greater New Haven
- The Committee of the Proprietors Of Common & Undivided Lands in New Haven
CHURCH VENUES: Encouraged the use of the exterior walls of the Churches as part of the exhibits. Helped develop relations with the community.
Rev. Dr. Luk DeVolder
- Rector, Trinity on the Green, New Haven
Rev. Canon Mark K.J. Robinson
- Rector, St. Ann’s Episcopal Parish, Old Lyme, CT
Rev. Bonnie Scott,
- Minister, United Church on The Green
Rev Kev Ewing,
- Minister, Center Church On The Green
How does this project relate to a larger community development strategy?
Many organizations in the City of New Haven have made the issues surrounding immigration and refugees a priority for policy development, and community support. These include the Mayor, the Director of the Arts Commission, The Community Foundation, The churches. Refugees and Immigrants are seen as making vital contributions to the community and the city seeks to encourage their presence. New Haven is a Sanctuary city. These and more welcomed WE ARE to the community.
What projects or places, if any, inspired your approach to this creative economy project?
I have been working in the public art space presenting ”common man” and "Immigrant / refugee" material for the last 12 years. WE ARE was inspired by my travels abroad and feeling that Americans could benefit by exposure to and appreciation for the travails of immigrants, and immigrants could benefit by being recognized as dignified individuals who have and can contribute to our way of life.