Artists and Artists' communities are joining forces to raise awareness about global issues affecting the lives of many people in the world. "World Citizen Artists" (WCA) is a global community of artists and creatives launching on 20th June, coinciding with World Refugee Day, to highlight the plight of refugees around the globe as the first UN World Day highlighted by the WCA. The launch is a call to visual artists, photographers, writers, and musicians from all countries, backgrounds, ages, and genders to join the movement. It is also an invitation to art lovers and those who wish to support the aim of raising global awareness through art.
In addition to highlighting global issues, WCA intends to democratise art through social media by providing a platform for emerging artists to get their message across alongside established artists who wish to use their reputation to bring about positive change in the world. The WCA launch is welcomed by "Playing for Change" who have shown their support by offering their video "Clandestino" featuring Manu Chao to be shown on WCA's website www.worldcitizenartists.org
WCA's aim is to encourage people to engage in positive action to bring about a transformation that will improve the lives of those disadvantaged by poverty, climate change, political and social upheaval, lack of opportunity and prejudice. It will involve organising art projects, exhibitions, and competitions to highlight key issues and to support changes in the way individuals, groups, societies and nations go about addressing the collective challenges that exist all over the world. The pre-launch WCA membership consists of visual artists, musicians, photographers, filmmakers, and creative thinkers.
WCA has attracted members such as Yosvany Terry, a famous saxophonist on the Jazz scene who has worked with major figures in every realm of Cuban music including pianists Chucho Valdes, and Frank Emilio and the celebrated nueva trova singer/guitarist Silvio Rodriguez. " Playing for Change" is a movement created to inspire and connect the world through music, with similar aims to WCA. They have over 100 million followers worldwide.
WCA is actively working to find sponsors and raise funds in order to organise artistic events that highlight targeted global issues. The artist selection process will be based on criteria such as the strength of the message conveyed by the artwork and how likely it is to raise awareness about the topic. Similar selection criteria will be applied to other creative mediums, such as poetry, prose, music, film, installations. The proceeds from these events will be donated to NGO's. Decisions about where to allocate funds raised will be made by voting members in the WCA Facebook Group.
WCA's Founder, artist Valerie Won Lee explained the birth of the WCA concept; "It pained me to see so much suffering in the world and I wanted to do something about it by raising awareness through my art. But I am only one artist and couldn't make much impact alone. I began trying to connect with other artists who believe that art can spread a message to raise awareness, encourage responsibility and motivate people to take action to bring about positive change. It took some time to find these fellow artists as they were scattered around. So I decided to build a community of like-minded people, who care enough about issues affecting many people's lives".
WCA has an online magazine on its website and a Facebook membership group where members can exchange ideas, get involved in discussions about world matters and debate who to use art and other creative media to raise awareness and bring about change at https://www.facebook.com/groups/arttakesover/
Notes for Editors o Won Lee travelled for 15 years and worked as a volunteer in schools and humanitarian projects whenever she could afford it. When she returned to live in Europe, she decided to become a full time artist, because she believed that art would be the most peaceful way to pass on messages to the world. When she arrived in Paris, she looked for international artist communities where she could share her humanitarian experiences. This was a slow and difficult search, even on the internet most communities are too 'open' and she found it hard to discover artists with similar interests. She established an online magazine V.W.L. where she initially published her own art. For Christmas 2013, she offered artists to be published in the magazine and the idea of "World Citizen Artists" emerged. Most of the artists liked the idea and accepted. She ran a second edition on World Water Day and with an announcement that V.W.L was looking for World Citizen Artists on social network. The response to this call was a greatly increased number of emails. Won Lee recognised that this was an opportunity to develop solidarity amongst artists and create a global movement. She decided the approach would be to create a platform for artists who have similar thoughts and feelings about what's happening in the world and who are also working to have an impact for positive change. Within 3 months, with the help of a WCA committee, a pre-launch group, and artists contributions', WCA was formed.
The World Citizen Artists movement was founded by visual artist Valerie Won Lee to create synergy amongst artists and to harness the expressive power of art as a way of raising global awareness and responsibility about key issues and challenges affecting human life on Earth. Headquartered in Paris, the movement has representatives around the world comprising artists and activists, and is governed by a small internationally-based Steering Committee.