Celebrating Seven Years of ARTogether: A Journey of Heart and Art

Seven years ago, ARTogether was just a dream. I remember attending the 2017 World Refugee Day event at Laney College, introducing myself to various organizations. Back then, I was filled with hope and a vision of creating a safe, creative space for refugees and immigrants. Last week, celebrating the same occasion at Clinton Park, ARTogether was not just a participant but the main organizer. How far we’ve come!

A few weeks ago, we celebrated the end of our first Shadow Movement Workshop. Seventeen youths shared their stories through puppetry, animation, and shadow movement. Their stories were filled with raw emotion, dreams, and a deep desire for connection. It was a powerful reminder of why we do what we do.

The desire for connection is a common thread across all our programs. I vividly remember walking into our center a few months after it opened. There was a group around the piano, practicing a song, a couple chatting, two people exploring the gallery, and kids playing in the corner. This scene is etched in my memory as the essence of ARTogether: a safe space for connection, creation, and community.

Another story that touched me is about a young girl who attended our very first children’s summer camp. She recently applied for our artist mini-grant to start her own dance teaching practice now that she has graduated from high school. 

Our rapid growth is a testament to the need for programs like ours. We show the diaspora and immigrant communities that their voices, stories, and cultures matter. Other organizations serving refugee and immigrant communities recognize the importance of our work. Though they may not have the capacity to implement similar programs, they have welcomed us with open arms to fill that gap. We are grateful for their trust and support. 

ARTogether was born out of a vision to create a compassionate community where refugees and immigrants could find solace, express themselves through art, and connect with others. Today, that vision has blossomed into a vibrant reality, thanks to the unwavering support of our dedicated team, volunteers, partners, and the communities we serve.

As we look to the future, we remain committed to expanding our programs, deepening our community connections, and advocating for the rights and well-being of refugees and immigrants. We envision a world where art transcends barriers and borders, where every individual’s story is honored, and where creativity and compassion lead the way.

Thank you for being a part of our journey. Here’s to many more years of connection, creativity, and community.

With heartfelt gratitude,

Leva Zand
Founder and Executive Director, ARTogether



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