Local artists join new online mentor program that uplifts diverse voices

SPOKANE, Wash.– A new online art mentor program will start soon in Spokane. The goal is to give people of color in under-served communities the tools and support they need to jump-start a career in media arts.

The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) recently awarded The Alliance for Media Arts + Culture $30,000. Executive Director Wendy Levy said the grant is significant in Spokane because the Alliance was the only group in eastern Washington to receive an NEA award this round. The money will go toward building a website and hiring two local award-winning producers of color to lead the local Arts2Work online classes.

James Pakootas and Olivia Evans will offer courses in storytelling, media production and editing, according to Evans. In the first session, Evans expects that she and Pakootas will hand select the 4 to 6 people they each will mentor.Olivia Evans WITH ART

“I really wanted to dive into the community and find those people who don’t have those chances to be seen,” Evans said. “So my main part in this is being able to give people a voice that didn’t necessarily have before.”

It’s a voice so many people are crying out to hear. Renewed support for the Black Lives Matter Movement has inspired many to seek out artists of color. Evans said it’s not easy gaining recognition when you’re an artist of color, but the fight to share important stories with unique perspectives is important.

“Being cemented in your community and people knowing your name in that way and what you can bring back into the community, I think, is very important,” Evans said.

That’s part of why she’s so excited to join Pakootas to work with artists in the Arts2work program.

“If this is the time for those who feel that it is time for their voices to be heard, then it should be,” Evans said.

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