On a Wednesday night, after an hour of exercise, energetic and determined women living with diabetes or other health concerns come together to write. They are amidst a 24-week cycle of a program called Start Your Engine, investing in nutrition and fitness education for women. Founder Anastasia Holmes explains her approach. “After struggling with health and quick fix diets alone, I realized that a community of women working together over a longer period of time could make better choices.” Why writing? She explained she wanted to look beyond just the food and physical aspects of health to the other benefits of creative writing, which can lead to personal discovery and change. Enter a collaborative relationship!
Create Collective, a non-profit whose slogan is “artists to community, community to arts” shares her view. Existing as a liaison between artists and community populations who may not traditionally be exposed to the arts, Create Collective fills a much needed gap in linking society. Chelsea Lemon Fetzer, Co-founder with Maril Ortiz, is also a facilitator with NYWC. She has led a workshop with homeless LGBT teens for several years. Although she is primarily a writer, she was inspired by working with the marginalized communities, and thought, wouldn’t it be a wider impact with diverse art forms?
Chelsea Lemon Fetzer writes, “As a writer and an educator, I have long been interested in conducting creative workshops in community spaces with low access to arts programming. Pursuing this work as an individual, I quickly learned two things: one, there was a fantastic number of artists and community members who were also interested in making this connection. Two, obstacles in funding, time, contacts, and logistical management often limited them, sometimes to the point of not carrying out an idea at all. A major goal of the Create Collective is to resolve these obstacles so more community-based workshops can happen, and to their greatest potential.
We are a non-profit organization that facilitates collaborations between community-based spaces and artists interested in community work in order to offer free, high-quality arts programs to people of all ages and means. Our programs address issues of particular concern to our participants such as youth development and identity, social justice, job creation, crime and safety – moving towards a definition of art that embraces its capacity to improve an individual’s quality of life and revitalize communities.”