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“Art Saves Lives: A Cultural Conversation (of possibility…)” is a collaborative performing arts and teaching outreach exchange partnership between Susan Blair, Houston-based dancer-storyteller-choreographer and the Grace Foundation of Texas. Patrice Pike, singer-songwriter-musician, is co-founder of Grace Foundation, a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization serving young adult survivors of homelessness. This project is the first of its kind between Sister Cities Nice, France and Houston, Texas.

The project brings together like-minded artists who purpose to begin a sustainable arts exchange both to educate and raise awareness about the growing pervasiveness of homelessness. The project’s goal is to help prevent, and address the ramifications of teenage and young adult homelessness in both Nice and Houston.

At the heart of the project is Camilla Holman, a homelessness survivor, and recipient of Grace Foundation scholarship funding. Ms. Holman is a senior Dance Major at Texas Woman’s University and will participate in the program as a mentor as well as a guest artist. She will have the opportunity to share her story of hope – and to “pay it forward”. In the words of one of the very first Grace Foundation recipients, “If I could, I would tell every one (of them) face to face that there is hope, that there is a way through, a way up”.

Homelessness has many faces: it exists anywhere a child is not nurtured to reach their full potential. It occurs around heirloom walnut dinner tables. It occurs when families sleep in the car that is their last possession; or on a church pew, or on a shelter floor. It occurs when a knowing Mother looks away and tells herself the abuse she and her children are enduring is not that bad. It occurs when a child loses their way, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. This project purposes to use the Arts to reach young people suffering from this universal epidemic; one that results in stifled potential and esteem.

French artist, Eric Oberdorff, choreographer and director of Compagnie Humaine, will join Ms. Blair and Ms. Pike. The three artists will create and present Phase 1 of this project in Nice, France in October 2014. Phase 1 is a ten-day residency in Nice and opens with two innovative performances of music, performance art and dance, at Theatre Lino Ventura, October 7, 2014. Following the performances, the artists will conduct outreach workshops focused on serving at risk youth and those affected by homelessness. (Phase 2 is planned for Houston in 2015).

This project is supported in part by the Texan French Alliance for the Arts, Grace Foundation, and the generous in-kind support of the City of Nice’s Office of Culture and Tourism (Rudy Salles, Deputy Mayor and Farah Cherif, General Delegate of International Strategy).

Helpful Links:

Texas French Alliance for the Arts: http://texanfrenchalliance.org/
Grace Foundation: www.gracefoundationusa.org
http://m.chron.com/life/article/With-Grace-homeless-teens-get-help-for-college-5510339.php
Compagnie Humiane: www.compagniehumaine.com
Theatre Lino Ventura: http://www.tlv-nice.org/

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