Saturday, November 10, 2012

Beginning the 4th year!

Report from Free Columbia The 2011-12 year of Free Columbia was very active. Eleven full time students finished the program of painting, drawing and puppetry in June with an exhibit of the year’s work held at a space next to the Family Dollar store in Philmont, NY. This exhibit in the middle of the town was reflective of our year which saw us moving out into the world around us. Beside our 11 full time students, 10 people participated part time, approximately 50 people took summer courses and another 150 attended evening lectures and events. Our summer conference, concerned with artistic experience and the future of art, was held at the Basilica Hudson in Hudson NY and was attended by 45 people from many countries including Finland, Israel, Italy and France. In May we held our first Art Dispersal, inviting people to become stewards of original art, to take it home and live with it for an unspecified time. We dispersed 120 paintings both locally and to people who will take them all over the world. Our puppet show of Rip Van Winkle using 10 foot tall puppets was shown at the public school to over 1200 children as well as outdoor performances in the Philmont Village Green. Like a little boat crafted at home, Free Columbia is beginning its journey into the world. Our vision for a community supported, accessible to all arts initiative really landed in the third year. Our $69,029 in expenses was covered by $69,937 in donations by individuals and organizations who believe in and support what we are doing. All of our activities were accessible regardless of a person’s financial situation. Sometimes the funding ran disconcertingly low but we sent out appeals, traveled to give courses in other areas, organized events and the funding came in each time. This approach is often challenging, sometimes unnerving, but the benefits of offering artistic work without financial restrictions is overwhelmingly inspiring and productive. In September we started our fourth year with seven fulltime and ten part time students. Thanks to all of you who through you understanding and support are making this work possible.

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