Organizations That Don’t Suck – Indy Convergence

Some of my readers have asked for suggestions of good organizations worth donating to.  Well, rather than just providing a list, I would like to start featuring different groups that I believe in and recommend supporting in individual blog posts dedicated to how awesome they are.  Organizations that you can give to without regret knowing that your money will be used wisely.  My first attempt at doing this is with an organization that I have loved since the day I learned about them, Indy Convergence.  They are currently gearing up for their annual event which takes place here in Haiti and is scheduled for this Saturday. One reason why I would like to start with them as a worthwhile recipient of your support is because one of the biggest excuses that I always hear for not donating to my own projects in Haiti is that people want to donate to something local because there are always “plenty of people right in our own backyard in need of help”.  Well, for those people, here’s a great, innovative, and young American organization creating really great opportunities for artists specifically in Indianapolis, but they come from all over the country.  They are also expanding to start programs in Haiti and also Canada.  So they’re really in everyone’s backyard.  And also, those who are interested in unique and trustworthy projects that do work in Haiti that aren’t your typical orphanage or food distribution group, they also provide that through their partnership with SA-K-LA-K-WEL.

They are currently in the middle of a campaign on Indiegogo to raise funds for their big event in Indianapolis that will be taking place in May.  Please visit their site and consider supporting the work that they do.  Thank you.

The following is an interview with Indy Convergence Executive Director, Caitlin Negron, where she shares just what Indy Convergence means to those who are involved and how others can get involved too.

What is Indy Convergence?

Indy Convergence is a two-week pop-up arts residency program where artists from different backgrounds gather in Indianapolis to collaborate, develop new work and teach free community workshops.

I know IC has a pretty broad definition of what it means to be an artist.  Who is the Indy Convergence open to and what kinds of different artists do you have participating this year?

IC is open to professional and pre-professional artists working in any field. The majority of participants usually are from one of the performing arts (dance, music, theater), but we’re working on broadening our ranks. This year we’ll have a few dancers, a visual artist, an opera singer, musician, choreographers, directors, lighting design students, a writer, puppeteer, arts educator, and actors.

What would you tell someone who doesn’t consider themselves an artist, but would like to get involved anyway?

Call me! We’d love to hear what talents and skills you have and are sure to benefit from your expertise. IC is always looking for writers to help get the word out, businesses to sponsor a day or project, volunteers to hang posters, and restaurants to donate meals (and coffee). Lastly, come to our workshops. They are all taught at an introductory level and designed to be shared with the community. Our detailed schedule will be available on our website in late April.

What can someone expect if they come to the IC open lab performance?

Our Open Lab Performance is an informal presentation of the work that is created in the two-weeks of IC. Each artist will introduce their project and show an excerpt of what they’ve worked on in just eight hours of rehearsal time. You can expect about a two hour show that includes a few pauses and an intermission. Audience members are encouraged to engage with the artists after the performance- we want your feedback. The Indy Convergence experience is about growing and moving forward in our work. Hearing what strangers have to say provides invaluable input that is difficult to get during the creative process. (We also serve delicious martinis)

How is IC different from other artist residencies?

The Indy Convergence defines itself by being a wholly collaborative residency program. This means that everyone who attends will work intimately with every other participant. Other artist residencies provide time and space for artists to work in a more insulated environment with a singular, personal goal and objective. The IC experience blasts all of your senses and asks each artist to call on skill sets they didn’t even realize existed. By the end everyone will be able to sing in public, do some kind of dance step, recognize yoga poses, write a poem, make a puppet and hang a light.

Tell us about your connection to Haiti and how that all came about?

IC is currently developing a relationship with a community center called Sa-K-La-K-Wel (SLW) just outside Jacmel, Haiti in a community called Oban. Through a series of re-connected friendships, our artistic director Robert Negron and alum Gabriel Pallo headed to Haiti in early 2012. There they found a vibrant arts community and an interest for more classes and educational course in the arts. IC now offers any of its alums the opportunity to travel to SLW for artist residency programs. The artists stay on the property and teach the students at SLW and the resident of Oban who pre-register for their classes. We also host an annual event similar to our Indianapolis event at SLW where local artists and aid organizations gather at the community center to share their talents and collaborate with IC artists. The IC-Haiti event is taking place this week!

How has this international connection influenced IC’s activities in Indianapolis?

We’ve had a generous outpouring of support and interest for our work in Haiti. We’ve been able to start connecting with other organizations to hopefully work on other, exciting collaborations. I think it’s also made us a much more attractive organization and allowed us to define ourselves from other small NPO’s with similar missions. Working is Haiti is truly connecting artists from different backgrounds who might not normally have the chance to meet.

We’re also hoping to foster a true artist exchange with Haitian artists traveling to Indianapolis as well as IC artists teaching at SLW. The first step of bringing our involvement in Haiti to the US is with your participation in this year’s “Umbrella Project” and the concept of “Otherness”. See a description of the project on our website (www.indyconvergence.org) under “Ellen Denham to direct Umbrella Project”.

Right now you are raising funds through an Indiegogo campaign, but what other funding needs do you have throughout the year when you are not preparing for the annual convergence?

Year round we have general administrative needs that most organizations do (things that are far less sexy than the projects we host each year.) We have a climate controlled storage unit to house all of our equipment, events in Indianapolis to attend, marketing, outreach and office expenses that need funding. We’re also looking ahead to find funding sources to support individual workshops year-round in Indianapolis.

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