The turn of events that helped breathe life into Arts Embassy International (AEI)!
When I made the decision in 2010 to leave my teaching position at Berklee's Paris affiliate – The American School of Modern Music – I was frustrated with how little energy and resources I typically had leftover to dedicate to my performance career, given the high demands, and low financial returns, of being an adjunct.
So I asked myself...
"Self? How can we improve on this picture?"
What sort of scenario will allow me to truly pursue that International Performer's career I've always aspired to - without losing out on the pure joy of fanning the sparks of knowledge and discovery otherwise known as teaching?
The answer was evident
How better to scratch both my performer's and my educator's itch than through the vehicle of Artist Residencies!
Ever since I was a kid, growing up as an expat in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, I had always felt fascinated and inspired by any artist who would take the time to cross the globe to come share their skills and talents with us in the middle of the Saudi desert.
From Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, to the Harlem Globetrotters, to the odd little costumed man whose team had reenacted Marquette and Joliet's exploration across the North American continent and who came to tell us all about it, teaching us to sing "Alouette" en français!
Whether for one day, or one week (or more) the beauty of an Artist Residency is that the Artist gets to demonstrate their expertise in a professional setting, while also helping the participants to stretch themselves towards gaining new skills as humans and artists. And if you're doing it right - everyone involved gets to show off their skills for the public before it's over.
I answered the call
and the call answered me
Within days of coming to this decision to shift my professional focus, out of the blue I received the first call that led me to a string of well paid, well organized residency projects in only the most exotic of lands on behalf of the U.S. State Department.
The best of all possible worlds
From my very first trip (in this case, to Swaziland) my suspicion was definitively confirmed —
This is the job for me!
All of my personal passions and professional aspirations rolled into one neat package. When Santa asked me what I wanted for Christmas that year (again, true story) I simple said "More of the same, please! I'm livin' the dream!".
Enter Arts Embassy International
Born in the summer of 2012
Immediately following that first trip to Swaziland and now back in Paris, all of my musings and research of the past decade coalesced to an epiphany moment. It was time to take all I'd learned to date and band together with an international team of like minded individuals to form a non-profit association that could help artists such as myself do more of this kind of work, in equally good conditions, and more often.
And as you can see (if you follow me), what Arts Embassy International has been able to do behind the scenes has helped build an exciting and rewarding career around the globe for me and my member-artist colleagues!
That's the short version anyway... follow along for more tidbits about how this good work is made possible!