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Venice Arts Overview

Over the course of two decades, Venice Arts has evolved into a media-based art education, training, and presentation organization. Our mission is to ignite youths' imagination, mentor their creativity, and expand their sense of possibility through high quality media-based education programs.

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Venice Arts was founded in 1993 in Venice, California. Our first program was a black & white photography project called Venice Through Our Eyes, created because we were interested in the potential power of exploring a community through the eyes of its youngest members. We also wanted to build an organization that would link the rich history and significant artistic resources of Venice with the large number of low–income children living in the community at that time. We were inspired by the work of Shooting Back, created in the mid–1980’s by documentary photographer and photojournalist, Jim Hubbard. In 1996, Jim, considered a pioneer in the field of what is now known as participant or pluralist photography, joined Venice Arts’ co-founder and Executive Director, Lynn Warshafsky, as our Creative Director and currently consults on its special, documentary projects. Over the course of two decades, Venice Arts has evolved into a media-based art education, training, and presentation organization. Our mission is to ignite youths’ imagination, mentor their creativity, and expand their sense of possibility through high quality, accessible, media–based arts education programs. Our programs are also meant to serve as a catalyst for people of all ages, living in low– income or underrepresented communities, to create and share personal and community stories through photography, film, and multimedia. Core Program Areas Mentoring and Education: An award–winning, out–of–school educational and mentoring program in photography, filmmaking, and multimedia for youth ages 10–18; and a multidisciplinary “Art Discovery” program for youth ages 6–9. Both are free to low–income families. An Advanced Studies Track supports talented teens through special workshops, 1:1 mentoring, portfolio development, and assistance with scholarships. Students may also be selected as paid Interns at Venice Arts or placed with a creative business in the local area where they learn about sound post-production, editing, special effects, television and film production, and more. Documentary Programs: From homeless women in Los Angeles to children orphaned by AIDS in Mozambique, Venice Arts’ Documentary Programs teach underserved children and adults to create and share their stories through photography, film, and multi-media. With guidance from professional artists, participants dive into the creative process, while developing skills in media creation. Projects balance the objectives of teaching and creative engagement with the development and dissemination of a strong, final product, which is exhibited in print and online, screened, and promoted to the press. Venice Arts runs Documentary Programs with nonprofit partners around the region and the world, and through our Art Mentoring Program. Gallery & Public Programs: The Venice Arts Gallery emphasizes high-caliber, participant-produced photography and film by youth, as well as traditional and experimental documentary-genre work by professional photographers, filmmakers, and multimedia artists. It hosts an average of 6 shows per year. The gallery is also available for community rentals. Free Public Programs feature presentations, lectures, and screenings that engage our community in conversation with artists, educators, and idea-makers that often tie-in with exhibition themes. Workshops for adults include free programs for parents of our low-income students, as well as for- fee classes for adults interested in creating new work in photography, film, or multimedia or developing skills in imaging, printing, editing, and more. Adult workshops provide small group learning, individualized attention and expert instruction, and are scheduled to accommodate working adults. The Institute for Photographic Empowerment: Supporting the study and practice of participant- produced photo, film, and multi-media, the Institute was created by Venice Arts with the support of the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School (USC). It offers:

  • A website for photographers, filmmakers, academics, and researchers from around the world to share ideas, learn from one another and develop the field.
  • College internships at Venice Arts and classes at USC, including those taught through a first-ever Minor in the field: Photography and Social Change.
  • Consultation, training, and resources for people implementing projects in their communities.
Consultation, Training, and Online Support: Venice Arts brings two decades of experience to its consulting work. Our skilled team personalizes their approach to assure a rich experience. Services include:
  • Teacher and Teaching Artist training
  • Curriculum development
  • Participant-produced documentary projects
Venice Arts Online: Our custom-designed website provides an online artists’ studio and educational environment for youth, faculty, artist–mentors, and partners. It enables our participants anywhere in the world to create and collaborate, sharing their art, dreaming-up on-line projects, blogging, posting galleries, accessing classes and educational materials, and more. Our Online Learning Library offers free curricular materials, the ability to post activities and lesson plans, and an interactive Forum to share projects, challenges and ideas with others in the field. Paid Members have access to our Curriculum Builder Tools, regular updates to lesson plans, hands-on activities, and teaching tools.

core programs art mentoring consulting & training documentary gallery & public programs institute for photographic empowerment

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