FOR COMMON GOOD
Written by Kevon Foderingham, Executive Director, CFAFF/FOR COMMON GOOD.
‘For Common Good’ started out as the theme for our third annual Caribbean Fashion and Arts Feature Festival in 2018, to highlight the power of the arts to heal communities. As part of that year’s festival we had the opportunity to paint murals on the Arima Velodrome wall, which kicked off a flurry of other large-scale mural projects in communities in East Trinidad.
Established in Trinidad and Tobago as a non-profit arts education and promotion entity in 2016, Caribbean Fashion and Arts Feature Festival (CFAFF) has grown well beyond its original scope of a fashion-film and arts festival into an entity eager to spread the message of the power of the arts to promote social change. A message we are spreading globally.
With growth comes change and sometimes the reverse. What remains constant is that both growth and change are usually in response to a catalyst. For CFAFF and me personally, the catalyst was participation in the U.S. State Department’s International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP) on “Promoting Social Change Through the Arts” in September of 2019. The IVLP is the U.S. Department of State's, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs' premier professional exchange program. The IVLP builds mutual understanding between the U.S. and other nations through short-term visits to the U.S. for current and emerging foreign leaders.
The impressions left on me by the U.S. based change makers I met in Washington D.C.; Louisville, Kentucky; Los Angeles, California; and Miami, Florida and my fellow international alumni, who were all using the arts to address pressing social issues served as inspiration for re-branding all of CFAFF's programs as FOR COMMON GOOD and the organization as CFAFF/FOR COMMON GOOD while expanding on the IVLP experience by providing an online arts for social change platform, the first of its kind.
The re-brand was necessary as the original ‘for common good’ theme had lodged itself in my head and heart since we had used it in 2018. The name itself felt like it was the perfect reflection of the work we wanted to do and the work we wanted to highlight that was using the arts to make the world a better place.
Enter Jilleen Matthews-De Verteuil, a talented visual artist who has been part of our programs over the years. For one of our in-house exhibitions, Jilleen had created a piece called 'Values' that was breathtaking in its simplicity, depicting a silhouetted character holding the world on his shoulders, being assisted by three other silhouetted characters. That was the missing piece of our puzzle, now we knew what FOR COMMON GOOD would look like. Jilleen’s work became our logo and she even depicted it as a mural at our headquarters EAST YARD.
The leap has set us up to hit the ground running with the FOR COMMON GOOD - Arima x Louisville Exchange, a collaboration with World Affairs Council of Kentucky and Southern Indiana, funded by the US Embassy in Port-of-Spain which is connecting adult Trinidadian and Tobagonian creative change-makers with Louisville based art for social change professionals- exposing them to concepts and knowledge on documenting oral history, community arts engagement and using the arts to include and empower persons with special needs.
The youth have not been forgotten and we are currently piloting FOR COMMON GOOD - Youth Arts Enrichment Program (YAEP) which is allowing Trinidadian and Tobagonian youth to meet with and be inspired by arts for social change luminaries from here at home and other countries like Burundi, Canada, Myanmar, the Philippines, South Africa, the United Kingdom and United States of America. This pilot has been made possible through the support and donations from Art by Creative Design, Bene Caribe, Garnet Allen, Indrani Goradia, Kelly Scavella, Lesley Anne-Macfarlane, Dr Nikoli Attai, Pamela Laurie, Virginia Pacifique Marshall and a few others who contributed anonymously.
With the reality of declining international development assistance, mounting social ills and the belief that the arts can be used to drive change, FOR COMMON GOOD is shining a light on the creative arts and calling on the creative 'people power' of artists, cultural leaders and other sectors who are already using nothing more than their creative capital and genius to mobilize culture and creativity for positive change.
What’s next for us? Festivals are part of our DNA and in August 2021 we are excited to debut FOR COMMON GOOD Global Arts for Social Change Festival (FOR COMMON GOOD Fest). With participants from across the globe and our local programs, the virtual celebration will increase the arts for social change programming knowledge of stakeholders; lead to an increase in innovative community driven approaches to social action; and increase the access to info, resources, materials, tools, people, and agencies through the shared contributions of contemporary social change pioneers who practice creative methods of advocacy to advance social change across the globe.
If you’re reading this now, it also means that our website www.forcommongoodplatform has gone live! This online web platform will be the go-to for all things arts for social change: from training, to discussions, to blogs to videos and podcasts that all seek to amplify the position of the arts as a powerful tool for change.
Our scope may have broadened and our name tweaked but the mission of CFAFF/FOR COMMON GOOD remains to raise the awareness of the power of the creative arts to foster social change with our vision to be known as the premiere global platform that showcases the power of the arts to promote that change. We value innovation in programming, knowledge transfer and cultural exchange and we're always on the look out for volunteers, interns, collaborators and partners with similar values.
We welcome persons with disabilities, retirees, all genders and sexual orientations, all races and non-nationals and organizations that champion the excluded and the disenfranchised to join us on this journey FOR COMMON GOOD.
CFAFF/FOR COMMON GOOD