Something new

The month after I graduated from my master’s program I flew to Kenya. I’d fallen in love with its beauty and depth the summer before, and I knew it was where I needed to be. For seven months, I learned the value of building impact with my hands before I got a hard lesson about funding and sustainability. Not having the money to continue my work taught me to never again build a venture that couldn’t pay for itself. As hard as the experience was, it gave me a fire for sustainable entrepreneurship I otherwise may not have found. It made me who I am today. Now, I’m making my dreams happen at one of the best entrepreneurship for social good programs.

I believe in the power of art to change lives because it saved mine. For years, I’ve used it as a way to cope with difficult situations and bring light to conversations often under-discussed or highly stigmatized, like mental health.  Realizing I could help people through my art and seeing other creatives do the same inspired me to build a place where other young artist could go to turn their passion for art into a life changing skillset.

I want to create a space where young artist can learn and grow into the social changemakers they aspire to be. That’s what I am called to do. Usher in the next generation of, what I have grown to call, social artrepreneurs – young artists who want to change the world through art in new, exciting, and sustainable ways.

In my experience, succeeding at this comes with three essential pillars: Your Story. Your Impact. Your Way. We’ll start with a foundation of storytelling. Each youth will learn the history and modes of storytelling, as much a tool to understand themselves as one to connect with wider audiences. Next, they’ll focus on the impact they imagine. Here, they will learn the foundations of designing, creating, and sustaining an impact. For some, this will include conversations around production, for others it will involve business planning and funding conversations. For all, they will walk out with a plan and the support they need to turn their art into something that changes lives. The last pillar is their art. Your Way. In this pillar, we will provide each youth the mentorship, technology, and classes necessary to excel at their artistic medium on a global scale. I imagine an art empowerment space that doubles as an art community, connecting youth with professional artists already succeeding in their artistic field.

I’ve heard people say the arts can’t change the world. I disagree. I know the arts can change the world. Imagine how much more we could accomplish if we empowered those with the greatest potential with one of history’s most powerful mediums and dared them to change.

Jessica Cicarelli, United States