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2011 Top-Rated Nonprofit

Artrain Inc

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Art Museums, Arts & Culture, Museums, Visual Arts

Mission: Artrain?s mission is to enrich lives and build communities through the arts. We believe that the arts should be available to everyone everywhere.Artrain brings enjoyment, understanding, and awareness of visual art and other cultural exhibitions to a diverse audience across the United States. It encourages the development of local cultural programs and organizations, provides educational programming to schools and increases participation in and support for the arts. The impact of Artrain programs is proven through its nearly 40-year legacy as the catalyst that has started or strengthened hundreds of cultural organizations. It has provided life-changing experiences for participants who have gone on to become artists, museum professionals, cultural volunteers and life-long art enthusiasts.

Programs: 1. Creative voice - artrain is the project manager and producer of creative voice (formerly criticcar detroit). Creative voice is a media-based arts journalism project that produces and posts video stories about arts and cultural events in detroit and southeast mi on social media. Creative voice highlight reels, in addition to being made and shared free to arts and cultural organizations for promotional use, are posted immediately to youtube and other social media sites for sharing. Creative voice's overarching goals are to: 1) add an important resource to diminishing arts and cultural criticism in the media; 2) cover the creative sector of detroit and southeast michigan, especially the newly innovative offerings; 3) promote the region as a thriving creative center; 4) encourage audiences to try new experiences. Artrain hires emerging videographers and journalists to work with conlin and the creative voice team of producers and editors. Armed with an artrain commissioned creative voice app for the ipad, the team attends cultural events ranging from the experimental to the traditional. In addition to the stories, creative voice video highlight reels add "person-on-the-street" audience commentary to offer authentic views on events. These highlight reels as well as individual audience critiques are posted within 24-hours for viewing and sharing on sites such as youtube - creative voice and facebook-creative voice. Creative voice has covered more than 150 events including: dlectricity, the detroit institute of arts, museum of contemporary art in detroit, detroit design festival, hilberry theatre, the detroit historical museum, mural on the dequindre cut, cinetopia, the ark's storytelling festival, funhouse gallery and art lab j. Detroit public television (dptv) has featured creative voice on its detroit performs program. To date there have been more than almost 40,000 views of more than 1,000 creative voice videos. 2. Strengthening nonprofits, building capacity and making creative dreams come true - artrain is taking its long-term commitment to strengthening local nonprofits to a new level. Since 2012 artrain has been contracted by the arts alliance of washtenaw county to provide administrative and project management services. The organizations share office space, resources and staff. The arts alliance, a young organization, benefits from artrain's administrative expertise and artrain gains an intimate knowledge of local arts agency challenges that enhances its national organizational capacity- building work. Encouraged by this success, artrain resolved to assist other like-minded projects and is offering fiscal sponsorships for worthwhile but vulnerable artistic or cultural programs that are not or may not need to be an independent nonprofit. To date, artrain has helped the selma caf, wonderfool productions producers of festifools and the ypsilanti 24-hour film shoot out. Artrain is presently working with individual artists and visionaries (i. E. Jennifer conlin with criticcar and mark braun of mr. B's joybox express) to help them bring their artistic goals to fruition. 3. An epic journey mr. B's joybox express mississippi river road ride 2014 - 1,840 miles, 80 days in as many towns, more than 23,000 people and hundreds of children were reached during this epic piano-touting, bike- pedaling and music-playing journey. Starting in lake itasca, minnesota on september 1st and ending in new orleans, louisiana on november 18, 2014, mr. B's joybox express, founded and fronted by renowned ann arbor, michigan jazz and blues pianist mark "mr. B" braun, spread the joy of music and movement along every mile. Mr. B teamed up with sam genson, marty stano, jules cunningham and tour manager and artrain program director, shoshana hurand. Motivated by his own involvement with music and sports, braun dreamed of putting a piano on a bike and riding it across the country to spread the joy of music and encourage physical activity. After trial runs in michigan, braun set his sights on the mississippi river corridor. Every obstacle was met including a few wayward armadillos and alligators. Performances at the dakota in minneapolis and preservation hall in new orleans were two of the many, many highlights. The pinnacle of this adventure was the people met on the way, as it is with every artrain touring project. All along the way the team was successful in raising interest in and awareness of blues, jazz, cycling and pursuing personal dreams.

Community Stories

14 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

Donor

Rating: 5

The Artrain is a great way to present Art and Culture to areas of the country where the Arts are underserved and underfunded. Forty years and chugging along! If the Artrain can inspire one new mind each day, the investment is worth it. I'm proud to be a donor.

Irina W.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I can't exactly say I was a volunteer, I was a demonstrating artist with an Allessee Fellowship in 2004. I traveled with Artrain for the first leg of the Native Views Exhibit and it was an amazing experience. Along with other artists, tour manager and of course the train crew, I got to see parts of the country that I would never have gotten to on my own. I met so many people and had so many incredible experiences. In fact, during that time I kept a journal and if you'd like to read it, it's available at: http://artrain.livejournal.com

Artrain is a national treasure and brings so much to so many people and for so little. I would hope that anyone who hears that Artrain is coming to their town or close by, that they make the trek to see it. And I would hope that anyone who has an opportunity to volunteer or donate to Artrain make it a priority. I will always cherish the time I had on Artain. I'm still in touch with many of the people I met while on the train, and the experiences I had were life changing. I owe so much to Artrain.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Our family was able to visit the Native Views mobile exhibit when it was located in our town. We were amazed and surprised that the exhibit was similar in scope and detail to a traditional arts museum travelling exhibit experience even though it was mobile! We all enjoyed the exhibit immensely and eagerly look forward to the next exhibit program available. For those that have limited or no access this is a wonderful program.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

My brother attended the ArTrain 34 years ago, when he was in kindergarten in Michigan. Since moving to Texas, I have seen the ArTrain on two stops to this area. I have seen and been impressed by the artwork and have participated in the community activities.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Can you imagine stepping onto an actual working train parked in your neighborhood and entering a fabulous art museum? The actual artist gave a presentation of a notable work of art. It was amazing just to see it; but, to meet the artist and hear about how the work came about and the history behind it was very enlightening, and a once in a lifetime experience. Throughout the train car(s) were excellent displays and hands-on activities for all ages that not only educate but bring to life the events and history of the theme. I am so glad that I was able to participate in this extremely unique experience.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 4

I've been an ARTRAIN admirer for over 30 years! ARTRAIN provides a unique arts experience by bringing high quality arts activities into community throughout the country. I've visited ARTRAIN over six times, and each time I leave with great admiration for the vision that created ARTRAIN, as well as for the impact that this Museum on Wheels brings to communities. Now, ARTRAIN has entered a new phase with greater flexabilty by moving this unique experience by especially created vehicles allowing visits throughout the country. Keep up the good work, ARTRAIN!

Board Member

Rating: 5

Artrain is a grassroots organization that focuses on serving rural communities where residents, especially young people, don't have access to museums and good art education by designing and exhibiting mobile museums. Their program is sponsoring an exhibit at Syracuse University which has its opening night tomorrow 1/27/11.

Client Served

Rating: 5

Several years ago, the school district of Waterford, Michigan created a new position: that of Supervisor of Fine Arts for the district. The new supervisor saw a need to not only expand the cultural offerings in the schools, but also the community at large, as Waterford was a predominantly blue collar area historically lacking in the arts. A small group of interested citizens assembled to discuss the idea, and it was decided to host a “kick-off” event. The new arts supervisor, who hailed from New York, brought up the idea of bringing the Artrain into Waterford.

Although it sounded more than a bit daunting to our small committee of cultural novices, we decided to jump in. (I do remember thinking early on, “What in the world have I gotten into?” as we learned all that was required. Our township had not been successful in pulling off even the smallest community event in the past.) The initial committee was expanded, to include a wide range of representatives from the schools, PTA, Parks and Recreation and local artists club. As discussion followed, excitement grew, and enthusiasm spread. At one critical point, when discussion of all the necessary preparation issues had ended with, “I think I know someone I can ask for that”, or “I’ll do that!” there was a silence. We all looked at each other and realized that this enormous undertaking was actually going to happen, simply because we were working together. It was, truly, a magical moment, and, I believe, the moment of birth of the Waterford Cultural Council.

I was in charge of publicity…our first big expense was 400 bright red lawn signs, which said merely, “Artrain in Waterford, April 19 – 24”. These teaser signs, splattered all over the community, started a mysterious buzz…

Not only did the Artrain project pull in a myriad of people to make it work, it worked well, and quite amazingly banished all obstacles thrown in our way. A condemned railroad side track was mysteriously “uncondemned” for the duration by the township powers-that-be; art teachers were all awarded substitutes for days, in order to take on the role of museum docents (very unusual for the school district, and a treat for their students to see); artists donated time and talents; a local clothing expert and designer showed her collection of vintage clothes; members of the Detroit Chamber Winds and other musical groups were engaged as entertainment. To prepare the scruffy-looking grounds, inmate crews were brought in to do clean up, and a local nursery enthusiastically provided an archway and beautiful plantings. Even the rather grouchy owner of the nearby property finally bought into the project and allowed us to mow it and use it for parking. Donors contributed, as well, and the community foundation even awarded us an educational grant. A marvelous opening reception was held in a nearby church reception hall, attended by artists, teachers, volunteers, media, and school, township and county officials, and we were off!

Never before had so many different elements in our township been involved in such a great collaborative project, and our many skeptics had to admit, it verged on a miracle. As excitement swelled, and more and more people joined the “Artrain in Waterford” team. We proved to a doubting township that not only could it be done, but people would come—to see art no less—and 5,000 people lined up that week—even in the rain!

The Artrain visit’s success proved undeniably that there was a recognizable desire and need for more cultural activities in the area, and the Waterford Cultural Council was formed. The success also convinced the Township Board and School District that this was something worthy of support, and each, a year later, contributed $30,000 and $25,000 respectively toward the organization, which was repeated yearly. This formed a strong 3-way partnership that has been used as a state-wide example, gaining several major awards for the Waterford Cultural Council. Memberships, grants, earned revenue and donations built a strong financial foundation.

Since its inception, the Council has expanded, providing classes, workshops, a string program for children and adults, professional performances by groups as the Glenn Miller Orchestra and Michigan Opera Theatre, free summer concerts, exhibits, educational projects, artist residencies, special events, and the very successful Waterford Founders Festival (later renamed Summerfest). It has proven that even in the most unlikely settings, the arts can make amazing things happen, and can create a sense of real “community” via its projects and activities. Thousands upon thousands of children and adults have benefited from the Council’s presence.

One of the best examples of the Artrain project’s direct influence on the Council would be the Picasso project that followed on its heels. The Detroit Institute of Arts approached the Cultural Council, and asked if it would be one of only three sites in the state to host the exhibition of an original painting by Pablo Picasso, “Bottle of Anis Del Mono”, based entirely on the success of the Artrain (other organizations were falling all over themselves to get this opportunity!). WCC took the project and turned the township on to Picasso-mania—again, 400 lawn signs with “Picasso in Waterford” on them, 40-ft. banners, “Picasso cubist jello cubes” on the school lunch menus, and year-long art projects for students. When the painting finally arrived, the WCC headquarters had been turned into Picasso museum with the help of the township government and Parks and Recreation Department, including special building security, a new exhibit wall and lighting, a display of prints following Picasso’s life and career, hundreds of pieces of student artwork, a video presentation, workshops and related concerts. Between 5,000-6,000 people attended; the more than any other of the sites, which were in known “arts” communities. The DIA told us they were concentrating more funding and attention into our site than any other, due to the collaboration that existed in our community for the arts.

The Artrain is, as all of us know, not only a train with beautifully presented exhibits, but a museum-on-wheels that provides a spark wherever it goes, strengthening communities through the arts. Waterford will be forever grateful.


Susan F.

Donor

Rating: 5

I am lucky enough to have Artrain located in my hometown, that is when it isn't on the road, which is fortunately most of the time. The unusual venues of exhibits in trains or trucks catches the imagination of all types and ages of people.

Artrain can be credited with starting a bonfire of affection for the arts in countless communities across the country!

I am proud that Artrain was born in Michigan and continues to excite the imaginations of countless people.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

This is what we wanted - all the arts on the move throughout the US.
All the more so when the country is in a funk. Artists creating a collective self-portrait of US. It gives us back a little of our innocence and it
makes the most of our experience. I wish I had invented Artrain.
I wish I were driving it cross country. There's a big difference
between hauling toxic waste to Iron Mountain and
trucking a live load of art to the town square.
Arttrain is the kind of nonprofit where will never be enough of.
Not in your dreams.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Artrain made its first stop in Ypsilanti's historic Depot Town district and that has made all the difference in the rehabilitation of this 1830s commercial neighborhood. Since then, it has stopped here six more times, probably more times than in any single community in the country. Artrain has made an incredibly positive impression upon this old community.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

How delightfully shocking it was to experience the AWESOME ArTrain in the small town of Benton, Arkansas, just a few years ago! Our daughters love of NASA and space in general took us for a visit -- one that my husband, daughter and I will never forget. It was unbelievable how beautifully the works were displayed, as well as how unique it was to be in a railroad train. It is the PERFECT way to see such an exhibit!

The only things we wished for were more opportunities for the train to come back to Arkansas and to have the chance to include more of our friends next time.

Emily H.

Donor

Rating: 4

I had the opportunity to be the facility manager on Arttrain in parts of 1999 and 2000. After I returned to a less mobile lifestyle, I elected to support this great institution financially. In community after community I saw the involvement of the school kids and the citizens with the art, as well as with the theme of the particular exhibit.

Board Member

Rating: 5

Many people think that art and cultural experiences are only for those who can afford them. And sometimes, some communities don't have access to these nearby. Artrain's mission is to bring these experiences to every community. The exhibits are mobile and they work with the communities they visit to transform lives. People (and kids!) get to see art and exhibits that they would never have gotten the opportunity to see otherwise. It's amazing to see the effect.