Naked City Guide

Profiles

Crossing Divides

*Not-For-Profit Organisation*

Hails from: Palm Beach

There are creative initiatives that leave a mark on our calendar – others change lives and leave an indelible mark on our hearts. For many Gold Coasters aged 16-25 and living with a disability, that’s Crossing Divides. This ongoing project engages creative interests and abilities through jam sessions, songwriting workshops, visual arts sessions and loads more, and it wouldn’t happen without a host of gutsy volunteer artists and artsworkers who offer up their time and talent. Naked chats to 23 year old artist and artsworker Tal Fitzpatrick, who, aside from a formally hefty CV spanning just about every project you can poke a paintbrush/pencil/camera at, has invested her energies into co-ordinating this irreplaceable organisation.

//////////

Naked: How did you get involved in Crossing Divides, and what motivates you to keep going?

Tal: I got involved after being asked by the previous co-ordinator if I would consider taking over. I was already aware of the great work the organisation was doing as some of my friends were involved. Considering I was 22 at the time and I had only just graduated [from university], I was really flattered to be considered for the job. Being on a volunteer board of a small not-for-profit organisation is a lot of work, but what keeps me going is the difference our programs make to the young people involved, and the professional and personal development of our artsworkers.

Scenes from movies like 50 First Dates and Mozart and The Whale tend to make up the average person’s assumption of people living with disabilities in a social setting. What’s a Crossing Divides gathering really like?

On top of all the challenges that come with being a young person living with a disability comes the difficulty of living with the stigma and discrimination (stemming largely from ignorance) which they face. Crossing Divides looks to provide these young people with a safe place to have fun, make friends and be creative in a non-judgmental, safe and supportive environment. Our gatherings are all about learning, expanding horizons, making friends and having a good time.

We’ve heard about your jam sessions – how do you break the ice and introduce young people who wouldn’t have otherwise known each other?

Our Jam Session Program is one of our longest running and most successful project, and this is largely thanks to all the great local musos that walk through our doors and bring music into the lives of the young people we work with. So far as breaking the ice, its all in the music making! The process of jamming is all about collaboration and being open to new people and new influences, and I think this is what makes musicians so open-minded.

In San Francisco there’s a similar program we like called Creativity Explored. Visitors to the studio can watch visual artists with a disability as they make art. How can Naked readers connect with what’s happening at Crossing Divides?

We are constantly looking for new volunteers, artists and musicians interested in working with us, and for artsworkers and other professionals who have ideas for projects and can help us with the everyday running of our organisation (not to mention donations of gear, expertise, time and cash).

What’s in the pipeline for 2012?

Ahhhhhh… there are so many possibilities for 2012. Our biggest goal is to set up strong partnerships with local service providers, schools and arts organisations. We would also love to get together some funding to set up a proper office/workshop space. We are particularly interested in engaging with young people looking to get some experience in the ‘real world’ and  learn about things like project management and workshop facilitation. So if you are interested please get in touch – we would love to hear from you!

//////////

Watch Tal speak about volunteering on youtube

Check out Tal’s blog

Email Crossing Divides

W: http://www.crossingdividesinc.com/