Fresh Artists amplifies the voice of children by:
- promoting their access to the transformative process of art making,
- validating their creativity and talent, and
- providing opportunities for them to express their concern for others.
Fresh Artists works in severely under-funded schools, where budgets for art supplies and art programming are often slashed. They believe that all kids need and deserve a robust art making program in their schools.
To achieve this goal, they have created an approach they call “lateral philanthropy,” in which the beneficiaries (children) are themselves the catalytic donors. With legal permission from the young artists and their families, Fresh Artists makes digital copies of the children’s art, enlarges the original art work and solicits donations from corporate clients for large-scale reproductions, which generate funds to support the wide distribution of art supplies and art programming.
The organization has received extensive recognition for this unusual approach to funding art in schools. Since its founding in 2008, their reach has expanded to 40 states across the U.S.
Originally, Fresh Artists approached me to write the copy for their new website. To capture the voice of the organization, I interviewed major stakeholders: staff, Fresh Artists, teachers, board members, corporate donors and advocates for public education. The stories I heard informed the copy I wrote.
In the meantime, I noticed the small staff of (then) four was stretched to both do the work and write about it. So I was not surprised when a year later I was asked to define the role of communications for the organization. What would it be like to have a regular presence in social media? To generate blog posts on a weekly basis? To have another set of eyes for such things as grant requests, job descriptions and promotional pieces? My experience running a nonprofit that interfaces with public schools appeared to be an added bonus.
- Blog posts: The “News and Events” section of Fresh Artists’ website is a place where funders often turn to assess the creativity and vitality of a would-be beneficiary. Blog posts, now updated weekly, capture the personality of Fresh Artists through both words and images.
- Social media: Keeping on top of social media has been a priority for Fresh Artists, particularly as their reach extends beyond the Philadelphia region. My job is to identify, write about, and capture through words and images the dynamic nature of this organization’s work. In the first four months of activity on Facebook, total reach tripled. Instagram and Twitter show similar increases.
- Audio stories: An added feature of the communications function at Fresh Artists is our ability to capture in sound the energy and optimism of the young people the organization serves. I’mtellinya! brings friends and donors into the spaces where kids experience the wonder of learning, creating and giving. It’s the kind of intimacy best achieved by audio, and we take maximum advantage of this capacity.
“Fresh Artists has made enormous strides in telling the world our story since we engaged Barbara. She quickly grasped our culture and style and took our social media from zero to 60 mph! Her creativity has made an colorful, indelible mark on our organization.”
— Barbara Allen, Founder