Artbound: New nonprofit initiative launches to create sustainable change
through the arts

Welcomes Seamus O'Regan as Honorary Chair, Dayle Haddon as Global Ambassador

Inaugural fundraiser 'The pARTy' on September 24, 2010 in Toronto, to raise funds to build first arts school of its kind in Kenya, Africa

TORONTO, Aug. 17 /CNW/ - Artbound, a new Toronto-based nonprofit initiative working in support of Free The Children launched today with a mandate to help create sustainable change in developing countries through the arts. The group - led by a team of young professionals including Honorary Chair Seamus O'Regan and Global Ambassador Dayle Haddon - will embark on its first mission in January 2011 to build an arts school as part of an all girls Secondary School in Kenya, Africa. The inaugural fundraiser, called 'The pARTy' is set to make its mark on the Toronto social scene on September 24, 2010. Details are available at www.artbound.ca and www.artbound.ca/theparty.

"We all know the importance of the arts in a child's education but, in the developing world, it can also be an essential tool to eradicate extreme poverty," said Seamus O'Regan, Co-host on CTV's Canada AM and Honorary Chair, Artbound. "Traditional crafts, dance and song are part of the tourism experience there, so they can provide real employment and a wage. For these young people, an arts education can also strengthen their appreciation for their own unique cultures, as well as their individual identity as artists, themselves. I am very proud to be a part of this initiative."

The new organization, which has been a year and a half in the making, is the brain child of Co-Founder & Chair, Jason Dehni, who, along with Co-Founders Amanda Alvaro, Katie Telford and Marcello Cabezas, worked with a team of 20 friends and colleagues in a variety of professions to bring the organization to life.

"Artbound is a completely unique initiative - a 100 per cent volunteer driven organization made up of an extraordinary group of people who are passionate about making a difference," said Jason Dehni, a Vice President with Scotiabank and Co-Founder & Chair of Artbound. "Artbound is also about active philanthropy. It allows us to be fully engaged in the solution, to raise the money we need to build and operate the schools and to travel abroad to help build the physical structures and related programs."

"Starting a nonprofit from the ground up requires both human and financial resources, and we are extremely grateful for the generous support of our key partners - Horizons Exchange Traded Funds, Scotiabank, CTV and Haddon Strategy," said Amanda Alvaro, Managing Director of Narrative Advocacy Media and Co-Founder & Vice-Chair, Artbound. "It's because of these organizations that we will be able to create a sustainable change in the lives of so many children around the world."

With the end goal of helping to break the cycle of poverty, Artbound's three-part mandate is as follows: first, to enrich students by teaching them various art forms - including arts and crafts, visual arts, pottery, music, dance and drama; second, to empower students by providing them with platforms to showcase their talent and generate a sustainable source of funding; and third, to engage a local and global audience to take action through financial support or volunteer work that will directly improve the lives of the students.

As Global Ambassador, Dayle Haddon will work to raise the profile of Artbound around the world. "My hope is to see Artbound become to artists and the arts community what Doctors Without Borders is for the medical community," said Haddon. "An organization where people who are passionate about the arts can truly give back in a way that is meaningful and inspiring. Starting in Kenya, Artbound will create unique opportunities for truly sustainable change through the arts around the world."

Why an Arts Education Matters in Developing Nations

"The arts allow children to see themselves and the world differently," said Marc Kielburger, Co-Founder, Free The Children. "An arts education encourages creative thinking and forms of expression, which improves motivation, confidence, concentration and analytical skills. Beyond that, we know that refined cultural artistic skills can also serve as powerful economic tools that can generate a sustainable source of income that help break the cycle of poverty."

For these reasons and many more, Artbound and Free The Children believe in providing underprivileged children around the world access to a comprehensive education, including the arts, to allow them to develop more fully as individuals.

The First Build: Why Kenya?

In an effort to improve access to education, in 2003 the Kenyan government made primary education mandatory and free. While noble, this decree created a shortage of teachers and a spike in attendance. Further, art programs were cut from the national curriculum, deemed to be a non-priority. This is particularly important in Kenya where, with 42 unique ethnic groups, music and the arts are central in maintaining ethnic group culture and identity.

Unfortunately, even the children who are lucky enough to attend a primary school often see education halted, as they cannot continue into secondary school given the significant costs. As a result, less than 15 per cent of children who finish primary school in the Maasai Mara region continue their education. This is especially true for girls whose education is not perceived to be as valuable as that of boys (less than 5 per cent of girls in the region attend high school). To address this challenge, Free The Children is building the first all girls Secondary School in the Maasai Mara region.

The Artbound team will travel to Kenya in 2011 to build the arts school which will be fully integrated as part of this high school. After Kenya, Artbound plans to build similar arts schools in other developing regions around the world such as India, China and Haiti. All arts schools funded by Artbound will be fully managed by Free The Children and integrated into their holistic development model called Adopt a Village.

About 'The pARTy'

To raise funds needed to build the arts school in Kenya, Artbound will host over 900 guests at 'The pARTy' on September 24th, 2010 at Toronto's hottest new club, Maison. The theme of the event will be FAME/80's, and it will be the first annual fundraiser that celebrates the power of the arts - with 100 per cent of the proceeds going to the creation of the arts school.

About Artbound

Artbound is a nonprofit volunteer initiative in support of Free The Children. It was founded by a group of passionate individuals who believe that the arts have the power to create sustainable social change in the lives of underprivileged children. The Artbound team will travel to developing countries annually and build schools that are dedicated to the arts - institutions that will be fully integrated as part of existing Free The Children programs aimed to combat child poverty.

About Free The Children

Free The Children is the world's largest network of children helping children through education, with more than one million youth involved in innovative education and development programs in 45 countries. Founded in 1995 by international child rights activist Craig Kielburger, Free The Children has a proven track record of success. Through the energy and passion of youth, Free The Children has built more than 650 schools around the world, providing education to over 55,000 children every day. The organization has received the Rights Award from the World Association of Non-Governmental Organizations, and has formed successful partnerships with leading school boards and Oprah's Angel Network. For more information please visit www.freethechildren.com.

SOURCE ARTBOUND

For further information: For further information: or to arrange an interview, please contact Lindsay Mattick Davidson, Narrative Advocacy Media, Mobile: 647 338 3977, Email: Lindsay.mattick@narrativeadvocacy.com; Charlene Lo, Arts & Communications, Mobile: 416 728 1205, Email: clo@artscom.ca

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