American Institute For Arts And Communities
Our AIAC mission philosophy: "Art cultivates wonder that shapes science, ethics and social interaction, thus gestating the responsible and wise growth of community."
AIAC is a facilitator and developer of projects and programs embracing arts cultivation, environmental stewardship, community improvement, health and quality of life issues. This is accomplished through close work with like-minded nonprofits and educational organizations, businesses, and committed leaders in health, environmental and community issues. AIAC produces projects for local, regional and national needs. AIAC dedicates much of its mission to improving the quality of education in home schooling, private and public schools—including higher education.
Our recent move into the California Theatre in Dunsmuir, California literally and metaphorically opens a lot of doors for us. We have a home, a mountain eerie for all the projects and people we want to catalyze. Our offices are on the second floor of the theatre —huge 1926 windows overlooking acres of achingly beautiful evergreens and peaks still frosted with snow patches. The town, steeped in lumber history, is tough as nails on being environmentally friendly. Along our street are art galleries, charming boutique shops, bucolic cafés, great-chef restaurants, fabric shops, old-time hardware and antique stores. The performing arts theatre and media center is below us. The smaller film theatre and spacious ballroom (with kitchen planned) is above us. We’re surrounded by everything we stand for and work toward.
The people of AIAC, who’ve come together as branches of a single old-growth tree, are highly motivated to help people in the full spirit of culture and the society motif we call community. This is a rich pallet on a very broad canvas. And such an encompassing metaphor of purpose gives us the ability to be extremely fine in building programs for a small, select group or extraordinarily wide in catalyzing positive ripples in educational or metropolitan centers.
Surprisingly, there are few nonprofit institutions in America that bridge all the arts and all the facets of community stewardship — from environment to ethics. Though, obviously as most cultures recognize, the two worlds of arts and community are as interwoven as loamy soil and savannah grass. One does not exist without the other. Or if they do, each is incomplete, bereft of vitality and evolutionary prospects. And history is strewn with ruins of tribes, societies and empires in which arts withered and community subsequently died. So, what could be more natural or necessary than a marrying of arts and communities into a single protean institute.
In the nonprofit universe, we are largely a people organization. That is we strive to have a direct, beneficial, inspiring impact on each individual person that is touched by us. Or touches us and inspires or informs us. For this is a two-way street. We love to have individuals email us, phone us, talk to us in person at the California Theatre or on the streets of the regional northern California towns or across the US. Communication in all of its forms — including the ecological dialogue between humans and environment for example — is the bedrock of community. Kerrie Wilson, our founder/executive director, is one of those people who is a community gravity well. She attracts a sense of community around her—even in talking with one person (two people are the beginning state of community). During the day she’s always roping her conversation to the philosophy of community. Share. Give. Help. Inspire. Elevate. Edify. Protect. Nurture. Create. Connect. Preserve. Innovate. Push. You hear these words around here a lot. Put all these into a mixing bowl, throw them into the oven of a nonprofit institute like AIAC and you have the super-yeasty bread of life. We feed the mind and spirit.
Neighbors In Public Spirit—Giving Back To The Community
While AIAC is supported by small, moderate and major gifts, grants, theatre/ballroom event proceeds and sales of very select merchandise; we are deeply committed to financially and morally supporting the public projects of Dunsmuir and the greater Shasta region. A designated percentage of the funding from the public will be contributed to programs we feel are in consonance with our mission. AIAC is already committed to Pam Newman’s Kids Arts Bus program out of Mt. Shasta, a small public park project led by Kris Akins in Dunsmuir. The public tennis court in Dunsmuir needs resurfacing. We’re setting up a Young Directors Editing Studio at the California Theatre for the youth of the region. We’re involved in the planning and funding of a program to introduce healthy, nutritionally knowledgeable meals in the local schools. Future public support will go to specific arts programs, environmental projects, health and well being programs for the underprivileged, values and ethics teaching programs, and more.
The Whole Person—Teaching Children & Youth
And we are especially cognizant of how essential it is for children and youth to be awakened to living art, to their own powers of creativity and imagination. That such immersion, as many philosophers and educators perceive, brings out the full repertoire of each young person as a complete human. Art breeds imagination, yes. It also breeds universal appreciation, integrity and ethics. A young woman or man, who discovers more of their complete self, is far more likely to be a dynamic community member. And in the great circle of life, these young adults will teach others by sheer example and potent words long through their years.
As Socrates observed, “Wisdom starts in wonder.” And the arts — from speaking to music, fine art, writing, dance, drama, stage performing—are all crucibles of wonder. And gateways to wisdom. The American Institute for Arts and Communities sees that as essential mission statement: art cultivates wonder that shapes science, ethics and social interaction, thus gestating the responsible and wise growth of community. This applies equally to children and teens on up to young adults; and certainly includes adults of all ages. It is a great process to watch, and we see this often, how a person in their mid-thirties or mid-fifties will be gently rewrought by taking up an art, or supporting an artist and the arts in general. They become more kind. More insightful. More self-aware. More open to changes they’d like to make within themselves. It is an interesting law in the public good realm: to make changes in a group, the individual must first change. Individuals all making quality changes within themselves are attractors for creating quality groups. Or change agents for shaping a group toward more beneficial, engaged expression.