Open Space for Arts and Community Expands Literary Program

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Open Space for Arts and Community is expanding a new initiative to hire writers to create public art. “The Literary Project” is a literary flash fiction/prose poetry project by Island writers. The goal of the project is for participants to create individual works of fiction, forming a collection to be presented to the community and was originally geared towards writers who have been financially impacted by COVID-19. Due to interest in the project from the community, eligibility of the program has been expanded to include all Vashon residents regardless of financial need, and the application due date has been extended to February 8th. At that time, a jury/panel will review submissions and contact the writers whose works have been selected.

“The Literary Project” is the third project of !Attention! Artists at Work (AAW). AAW is a jobs program led by Open Space for Arts and Community in partnership with local nonprofit organizations. Since the spring, the goal of the program has been to hire artists during the challenging economic environment that began last March due to the pandemic. Initially, “The Literary Project” was designed exclusively for artists who have been financially impacted  this year, such as with the loss of a day job or reduction in hours, the loss of traditional opportunities for income from writing, or loss of a job by a partner or spouse within their house hold. However, due to community interest, Open Space for Arts and Community has decided to expand eligibility to all Vashon residents. Only artists who self-identify as having been financially impacted by COVID-19 will receive compensation.

Open Space executive director Jiji Saunders explained why the program has expanded its eligibility, “From the beginning, the main objective of !Attention! Artists at Work has been to hire artists, and has provided funding for 60 Vashon artists since March. However, this program has also been about our community. We see this as a tremendous opportunity for Vashon to make art together while staying true to our main objective: hiring artists who have been financially impacted by the economic and employment crisis that began this spring.”

The theme of the project is “Close to Home.” The completed works of fiction will be distributed to the public through a variety of ways, which may include weekly digital releases, radio broadcasts, and podcasts, with more possibilities in the works. The “Literary Project” is organized by Open Space for Arts and Community in partnership with Vashon artist and writer Sharon Shaver.

The AAW program is comprised of a series of public arts projects. Other projects of AAW include “The Mural Project,” where 21 Island artists created works for a large mural that now resides at the Open Space for Arts and Community building, and “Distance Dance”, which was an ongoing series of physically distant pop-up appearances on the island this summer. All projects sponsored through AAW are for the public and designed to be easily accessible to anyone on the Island. To learn more about the program, apply, or donate, visit https://www.openspacevashon.com/attention-artists-at-work/