The COVID-19 pandemic disrupted our normal routines, the way we work, and the way we connect with people. There have been new and innovative ways to communicate, and for organizations like Free Arts, to still engage with the populations that they serve. In this quest for innovation and connectedness, some new bonds with old friends were made here at Free Arts. All of us know of Free Arts for Abused Children of Arizona, but did you know that there are other Free Arts in the United States? We have sister affiliate programs in Los Angeles (Free Arts), Portland (Free Arts NW), Minneapolis (Free Arts provided by Big Brothers and Big Sisters Twin Cities), and New York City (Free Arts NYC). Free Arts around the country operate independently, but we have very similar missions. With COVID-19 and the new challenges that we faced, we decided it was a great time to reopen conversations with those organizations.
For the past year and a half, we have been hosting monthly video calls with our other affiliates throughout the country. These calls have been a great opportunity for staff of the different Free Arts teams to discuss the challenges and the victories that have been achieved during the pandemic. Discussions have included everything from DEI work, to unique remote programming, to projects and ideas that can be shared, and even to organizational financial successes. We have seen exciting and resilient pivots from these different organizations during every phase of the pandemic, and early successes with slowly returning to in-person programming.
During these 18 months, there has been a new bond formed with these organizations that were only loosely connected before. We now have cohesive ideas and visions that we have shared and explored with the group of Free Arts. We truly have seen, that even during times of historic proportions, that small connections go a long way. This monthly meeting has allowed members of the different Free Arts organizations to become friends over the simple goal of helping children build resilience through the arts, no matter the surrounding circumstances in the world. As we get closer and closer to our new “normal,” these monthly meetings will continue, as we will persist in supporting each other to reach that goal.