Its aim is to promote the tolerance in the world towards children of 8 to 12 years old, through visits of AiA's volunteers in schools.
Anthony and Stephanie have founded 'Art in All of Us' back in 2005.
But their project is quite older. Anthony and Stephanie were amateur photographers. Their photographic journeys lead them to mix with children, their favourite subjects. From these meetings with children of all origins and social conditions is born a double observation: on the one hand, children are curious of meetings and seek of getting explanations about the rest of the world; and on the other hand, there is often a mistrust and prejudice which create fear and intolerance faced with the 'other'.
The idea of Art in All of Us results from this contradiction; beyond their close circle, children don't know their 'world neighbours' but seek of discoveries. One imagines very well on what this 'unknown', this fear of the other - by simple ignorance rather than real fear - may run into, many years later, when these children are adults.
Education and formation of the youth contribute to avoid this risk. But it demands a financing and a logistic that only very large Non Governmental Organisations can afford.
So now, why not encouraging tolerance by promoting artistic creation?
The three Art in All of Us programmes were born! These three projects, indissociable from each other, focus on a main axis : to make children of different cultures aware of the wealth that offers the world variety, in order that they become, tomorrow, tolerant adults.
The first project 'Awareness Programme' - consists to go to schools and to ask children of 8 to 12 years old to write a poem and to draw their country, as if they have to show it off to the children of the rest of the world. Children are quickly conscious that beyond papers, pens, painting and other paintings, that it is imagination and creation that count.
Their curiosity leads them to ask what has been done in other countries, by other children. The current digital technology has enabled to answer to their expectations and to 'show' them the gleaned creations from somewhere else. Following reactions and testimonies are the basis of very instructive and revealing of the tolerance advance dialogs. Don't we say that the truth comes out from children's mouths?
Photography also takes an important place in this programme. The digital photography, and the possibility of immediate visualization, is an expression of the instantaneous artistic creation.
Perhaps, by a contagion effect, teachers responsible of visited school are very keen to extend the experience. Thus, the second Art in All of Us programme was born : the 'Pen Pal Programme'. It consists of creating a platform of artistic exchanges between schools of the whole world. Around a subject proposed by the Art in All of Us moderators ? friendship, tolerance, family - teachers of participating schools ask their pupils to imagine an artistic project which will be exchanged with the twinned school.
As an example, bracelets symbolizing friendship were exchanged between Marshall Islands and Ivory Coast. An exchange based on tolerance has taken place between Jewish children from a Canadian holiday camp and Muslim/Christian students from a Nigerian school. The first ones have made a tapestry of drawings and the second ones, bookmarks illustrating their idea about the subject.
The third Art in All of Us programme is the 'World Art Book'. Its objective is to show the world through the eyes and the rhymes of the children. This book will collect the best children masterpieces - drawings and poems - gathered around the world. Such as a kaleidoscope, the 192 UN countries will be illustrated by children. Of course, the aim is to allow a wide broadcasting of this book, kind of testimony'for the children of the world by the children of the world'
Today, Art in All of Us groups together 70 volunteers around the world. Its headquarters are located in Brussels, Belgium, but has a team of 6 volunteers based in New-York and is recognised as '501c3 tax exempt'. The website is maintained in Sweden, the book layout is realised in Chile, expositions and lectures are organized in Italy or Canada, and the board of directors is formed with representatives of big associations supporting the project (United Nation Children's Fund, SOS Villages d'Enfants, Fundacion America) and with personalities from the professional world who believe in the tolerance values of Art in All of Us.
AiA is financed about 80% on own funds. The rest comes from donation and photographs sales, at almost equal parts
In 2006, working out into in the field allowed to :
- work with about 4000 children in 55 countries
- insert 8 schools in the Pen-Pal Program
- organize creative small groups in 55 countries
In the last six months over 2,500 children from 53 different schools have participated in Art in All of Us programs. Objectives for end 2007 and 2008 are as much as ambitious. We must complete the collection of drawings and poems in order to finish the World Art Book layout, whose publishing is foreseen for Q2 2009. Masterpieces from almost 70 countries must still be collected. The new website www.artinallofus.org will be launched September 15, and the Pen-Pal Programme exchanges platform will also be reviewed in order to accept more schools.