Arts and music education are often the first things to get eliminated when budget cuts come a-rolling. Educators certainly know the impact that arts have on kids even though administrators overlook it. So in the times of budget cutbacks and disinterest in arts funding, it's now up to outside organizations like Guitars Over Guns and The Motivational Edge to nurture all forms of creativity for young people.
During Miami Art Week, two non-profits have joined with KIND snacks to showcase not a bunch of foreign artists, but rather the work and talent of local kids.
With the #ichooseart movement, these organizations want to show the significance of choosing art as an alternative outlet for entertainment rather than other not-so-safe ways, which is often the case for many at-risk youths.
Whereas The Motivational Edge (ME) employs all sorts of art forms, Guitars Over Guns likes to keep things within the musical realm. The organization is made up of professional musicians who "provide structured after-school programs designed to reduce dropout rates and empower at-risk youth through mentoring, instrument training, music instruction, and performance opportunities," explains its president and CEO Chad Bernstein.
By pairing kids with professional musicians, the non-profit helps "young people living in negative and dangerous environments to discover the life-changing power of music."
Ian Welsch, founder and CEO of ME, has been working as an advocate for education for over a decade and founded ME in 2008. Working to seamlessly blend culture and arts with academics, "The Motivational Edge uses culturally relevant arts as a motivational platform to inspire youth toward academic achievement, increased self-confidence, and the building of essential life skills," he explains.
Welsch and Bernstein understand that kids shouldn't be ignoring their core studies to pursue passions, but rather should focus equally on both. Their organizations both use art and music as a tool to enrich the learning experience.
Both organizers site this as one of the primary reasons to partner with KIND for the #ichooseart movement during Basel. Welsch describes the movement as being about "the capacity and authority to make choices that best suite your life, further your growth, but never infringe upon anyone else," adding that message is one that resonates with everyone.
The Motivational Edge and Guitars Over Guns both share the common directive that choices are important and that making positive choices can make a huge difference. "Art is a wonderfully positive choice when it comes to bring expressive," says Bernstein.
For Guitars Over Guns, the organization believes that "kids who are surrounded with positive reinforcement and a tangible vision of a moral path will make positive choices."
Echoing those sentiments, the students over at The Motivational Edge "find their confidence and 'sense of self' through making choices," according to Welsch, while his staff is there to help guide those students to making better choices and reach their full potential.
On Thursday night, #ichooseart kicks off in Wynwood with a showcase featuring a collab performance by students from The Motivational Edge and Guitars Over Guns. After that, on Friday and Saturday, the movement continues with pop-up performances happening around Wynwood, Midtown, and Miami Beach.
"Look for the KIND jeeps and the Romero Britto-inspired van from the Irie Foundation Allapattah Music and Literacy Center driving that will be driving the kinds around," says Welsch.
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Jumping in, Bernstein suggests keeping up with Guitars Over Guns (@guitarsoverguns) and The Motivational Edge (@motivedge) on social media - "we'll be live tweet and posting our locations," he says of the weekend shows.
Even though #ichooseart is focusing its efforts on Miami Art Week, Welsch and Bernstein agree that it's more than just a series of events over one weekend; it's a full-on movement. The two recommend that staying up-to-date with their work is the best way to keep the momentum running long after Basel has left the Magic City.