Statement of Solidarity for Social Justice June 2020
To Our Community, from River Gallery School
As citizens of our planet, we face challenges of racial inequity, Covid19 and climate change. We are all becoming increasingly aware of how insulated we are for a variety of circumstances and how necessary it is now to pay closer attention to our roles and responsibilities within our relatively small community.
We may feel distant from the urban street protests but the same issues face us all in our local community. We are heartened to see thousands of residents march in Vermont to support Black Lives Matter and police reform.
“A small town of predominantly older white Americans stood with me to protest the wrongdoings at the hands of police everywhere....Today we stood together for an injustice. Today people who don’t look like me or relate to me showed love and support. I was overwhelmed to see the people I saw today marching in protest…” -- Local protestor of color
As a non-profit art school, the River Gallery School intends to bring heightened intention to our programming and outreach efforts. Two years ago we started an initiative, Art for Social Change, focused on better serving our area by offering free art programs for marginalized residents, especially low income, LGBTQ and BIPOC area residents. An increased effort to move towards dismantling the financial and social barriers to our community art school.
At this time, we reinstate our commitment to work building healthy diverse connections within our community while attending to the growth of the artistic gifts of all. People who have the opportunity to express themselves freely and creatively share their whole person and expand awareness of shared experiences as human beings.
As we continue to build this program, we will welcome collaborating with The Root Social Justice Center and other local social justice organizations; provide scholarships designated to our local BIPOC community; and keep offering classes to people regardless of their ability to pay. We look forward to hosting a staff training with other Brattleboro art nonprofits to address issues of social justice and race within Brattleboro organizations with Equity Vermont.
In Solidarity as we work towards overcoming systemic racism and oppression in our country,
River Gallery School of Art
Art for Social Change Schedule 2020
All Programs are free of charge - Please check back for future offerings.
All these programs are generously supported by The Wolf Kahn and Emily Mason Foundation, The Vermont Community Foundation, The Windham Foundation, The Ben & Jerry's Foundation and The Anne Slade Frey Fund.
Brattleboro Business Underwriting
In addition to finding additional grant support for our new initiative, the school is looking for Brattleboro businesses and individual partners who would be interested in sponsoring one of our Art for Social Change programs over the coming years. And we have many more programs in the development stages! The cost to a business or individual would be between $500 - $1,000 per year depending on the specific class and we would advertise their sponsorship of the program.
Senior Outreach Program
In addition, RGS offers an ongoing Outreach Program for Seniors. Faculty member Marilyn Allen offers one class per week at the Brattleboro Senior Center for anyone interested in pursuing the pleasure of oil painting, whether for the first time or resuming an interest from an earlier time in life.
At the Brattleboro Senior Center on Tuesdays from 10am-Noon
Classes begin with an introduction to Sequencing, a technique developed by Ric Campman of the River Gallery School. This approach begins with direct experience of painting with your fingers that encourages fearless and joyful exploration of visual expression. Participants then follow paths that go in many different directions, generating excitement, pleasure and humor among the artists as they share their struggles and results. She also goes once a month to Pine Heights Nursing + Rehabilitation Home.
Ross Smart, RGS faculty member, offers weekly art making to clients at The Gathering Place, and bi-monthly for Bradley House residents. The pleasure of creative work appears to encourage participants to explore and learn in the company of others in a friendly atmosphere.