Nine years ago we launched Artsbridge Inc. with the strategic mission to use a unique combination of the arts and reflecting dialogue for creative problem solving between Israeli and Palestinian youth. Our goal was to foster social change by using art as a tool for individual and societal transformation. A key element of our work has been to help young people adjust to the challenges of conflicts, build resiliency and become empowered to affect constructive change in and between their communities.
As a vehicle for social change, our goal at Artsbridge is to empower youth, to eliminate hatred and biases by training young leaders who would then embrace the prospect of mutual co-existence and friendship as a life-long passion. We created our annual intercultural leadership program with this goal in mind. Our journey is not yet complete, but we have come a long way.
Our commitment to the ideals of a peaceful Middle East and a more unified America, where people of all ethnicities and religious persuasions would live as neighbors and not enemies remains strong. On the faces of the young Israelis, Palestinians, and Americans that participate in our programs annually, we see many reasons to be hopeful.
This summer, 25 young people from Israel, Palestine and the United States attended our three-week long Intercultural Summer Leadership program in Western Massachusetts. This year we initiated a partnership with a local Berkshire County organization, Music in Common, which enabled the students to experience a rich blend of music performance, visual artistic expression and therapeutic facilitation during the program. Throughout history, art has been a driver of social change and music has certainly played its role. We still remember the power of We Shall Overcome, the great civil rights song of the 40s and 50s.
Our dedicated staff worked to foster rich conversation among the participants, while creating a sacred space where the students could safely engage with others with differing opinions and beliefs. The individual stories shared in this program annually, offer those on the 'other side' the opportunity to feel empathy for common suffering and to build relationships across divides. This opens the door for people to get to know each other in non-threatening ways.
Artsbridge always strives to bring people together from diverse backgrounds, and to allow new ideas and ways of working to emerge. We are constantly exploring new ways to be more impactful and efficient. In the coming year, we are planning programs to establish a stronger footprint here in the United States through collaboration with organizations and individuals who share our values. We hope to be more present in New England and other parts of the United States. We are excited about several new initiatives that are taking shape for the coming year and I look forward to sharing program specifics with you in an upcoming newsletter.
We remain very grateful to our donors for their support.