ArtsCan Circle Fund, a new addition to BCSF

by BCSF Staff

Bethel Community Services Foundation is excited to announce the addition of the ArtsCan Circle Fund to our growing community foundation.

The ArtsCan Circle Fund supports the outreach work of the Canadian nonprofit ArtsCan Circle, which links creative artists with First Nation and Inuit youth in northern communities in Canada. ArtsCan Circle was founded in 2002 and inspired by the work of Mike Stevens, a multi-talented harmonica player who began by travelling to communities in Labrador to share his music with youth. On these visits, Mike has distributed thousands of harmonicas to help his young listeners discover music for themselves.

Mike Stevens similarly travels throughout rural Alaska, typically in Interior and YK Delta region villages. BCSF manages the fund for Mike Stevens’ Alaska-based work called Healing Through Music and Dance. It was this collaboration that led to BCSF’s introduction to ArtsCan Circle, the Canadian counterpart to Healing Through Music and Dance.

With the addition of ArtsCan Circle to its funds list, BCSF can assist donors interested in connecting to Mike and other artists’ work in northern indigenous communities in Canada.

ArtsCan’s mission is to teach new skills, promote self-esteem and inspire creative self-expression. To achieve this, ArtsCan sends teams of artists and musicians to engage children and youth in northern indigenous communities in creative arts workshops. ArtsCan Circle visits the First Nation communities of Pikangikum, Fort Albany and Attawapiskat located in northern Ontario, as well as the Inuit communities in Natuashish and Sheshiatshiu located in Labrador and Gjoa Haven, Nunavut. In the past, ArtsCan Circle has facilitated workshops at Misheegogamang, Wabaseemong, Eabametoong and Kugluktuk.

Laura Vukson, ArtsCan Circle executive director states that: “We are pleased to have the opportunity to partner with Bethel Community Services Foundation. BCSF supports Mike Steven’s Healing Through Music and Dance in Alaska and has generously extended their offer to ArtsCan Circle in Canada. In the spirit of reconciliation, this is a great example of reconciliation in action through arts and how the arts can expand beyond borders.

According to Michelle DeWitt, BCSF executive director, ArtsCan Circle Fund plays a special role at BCSF.

“Typically our funds are geographically specific to the Yukon-Kuskokwim region,” DeWitt said. “But occasionally donor interest draws us farther afield, with the South Sudan Medical Relief Fund and now the ArtsCan Circle Fund as strong examples of that. We love our work in supporting the arts and bringing the arts to rural arctic and subarctic communities, and our collaboration with Mike Stevens has been inspiring and allowed us to help facilitate that. We are happy to help match donors to these similar efforts in Canada.”

Individuals, businesses and organizations are invited to make contributions to support the ArtsCan Circle Fund. Contributions can be made in a number of ways:

ONLINE: At bcsfoundation.org, click the Donate tab and choose “ArtsCan Circle Fund.”

IN-PERSON: Cash, check or credit card will be accepted at BCSF, located at 1795 Chief Eddie Hoffman Hwy.

MAIL: Checks made out to Bethel Community Services Foundation with “ArtsCan Circle Fund” in the memo can be sent to BCSF at PO Box 2189, Bethel, AK 99559.

PHONE: Credit card contributions can be made by calling 907-543-1812.

To learn how to open a fund for a cause that you care about, or include ArtsCan Circle Fund or another BCSF Fund in your estate/legacy plans, contact Michelle at [email protected].

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