Our Story

ViVA is a new national nonprofit and curatorial platform with a focus on connecting internationally-recognized artists and projects emphasizing women, BIPOC, LGBTQ+, and social justice to students, educators, and communities across all disciplines and ages. Using an equity-based all-inclusive fee structure, ViVA’s roster of artists lead virtual talks, conversations, or workshops about their creative practice and the social, political, economic, and environmental concerns that influence them. All ViVA engagements are supported by a team of experienced ViVA educators who work closely with clients and the artists to maximize each experience.

 

We’re at extraordinary turning points in climate change, political discourse, equity and social justice, the future of work, higher education and technology. ViVA is situated at the intersection of these concerns and is focused on solving problems of affordability, access, representation and fossil fuel consumption of traditional visiting artist programs at colleges, museums, and other organizations through curated turn-key virtual visiting artist engagements offered by a growing inaugural roster of diverse artists working alongside an equally dynamic and growing ViVA team of experienced educators.

 

For more than a decade, experts in technology and education have predicted future tectonic shifts in the delivery of teaching and learning across disciplines and among all institutional categories, from community colleges and large private research universities to mid-sized state universities and small private liberal arts colleges. Rising tuition due to skyrocketing education costs, ever-dwindling tax revenues for public educational institutions, and decades of income stagnation for middle class families have conspired to create one of the most complex and competitive environments for a threatened educational ecosystem. Life-long learning for adults, and community-centered education is experiencing a renewed sense of importance for the health and wellbeing of our democracy and the collective resilience of our towns, cities, and regions as climate change, racial reckonings, economic disparities, and socio-political upheavals challenge us to adapt and grow.

 

The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated transformations in education and the arts, some of which will be long-lasting or permanent. Suddenly, we have also awakened to the realities of climate change and the deep commitments necessary to address the crisis. Traditionally, many schools and organizations spend thousands of dollars a year to bring visiting artists to their campuses and communities to speak to students, educators and diverse audiences. In-person visiting artist engagements, which are often inspiring and vital to learner experiences, expend significant human and financial resources, as well as fossil fuels. Most schools have experienced sharp reductions in budgets that trickle down in the form of eliminated staff and teacher positions, entire departments and programs, and an elimination of “extras” like visiting artists. Simultaneously, institutions and organizations face the need to find ways across their operations to reach net-zero carbon footprints, requiring new solutions from everyone.

  

Not a tech start-up or a speakers bureau, ViVA is a nonprofit, non-carbon solution that affordably connects artists to classrooms and community learning contexts by way of a hosting institutions’ own preferred Zoom, Webex or similar platforms. Our visiting artists are scheduled through ViVA staff to meet with classrooms or groups of learners. Client-partners from colleges and universities, public libraries, museums and arts councils, and even retirement groups, are aided through expertly prepared educational materials that include vetted articles, essays, videos, interview transcripts, sample discussion questions, ideas for lesson plans, writing prompts, and other tools. An experienced ViVA Educator meets with each client-partner to talk through their goals and share ideas about how to make the most of their upcoming ViVA artist engagement. All along the way, ViVA helps organizations reduce their carbon footprint while streamlining all booking, contracting and payment processes to meet the needs of each school, organization, or group.


 

How ViVA makes a difference:
 
  • Lowers client organizations’ carbon footprint for public programs or curriculum

  • Affordable budget-conscious alternative compared to in-person visiting artist programs

  • Excellent option for organizations with small or recently reduced staffing.

  • Capitalizes on the depth and range of expertise of a diverse team of educators

  • Curated selection of women, BIPOC, LGBTQ+ artists and important social justice themes

  • Expanded revenue opportunities for artists that reduces their time away from families, their own teaching obligations, and their studio

  • Convenient resource for timely and thematically relevant multi-artist panels or visiting artist series

  • High-quality and engaging program solution for membership, alumni, or parent programs composed of geographically dispersed stakeholders

Natalie R. Marsh and Scott R. Baker

Co-founders:
Natalie R. Marsh
and Scott R. Baker

2020, despite its difficulties, provided ViVA co-founders Natalie Marsh and Scott Baker with a unique opportunity for reflection about their lived experience and where they might focus future endeavors. By the time the Black Lives Matter movement took center stage in June, everything felt more urgent: the need for dialogue, the paradigm shifts in learning and higher education, the rate of change – exacerbated by a pandemic, and the importance of supporting art and artists to ensure that their ability to create important work survives this difficult moment.

 

All of these themes began to coalesce as they began reading, researching and reaching out to colleagues and noted experts to see if their suspicions about where the gaps would widen were widely shared. What they found was near universal agreement. So, they decided to join forces and do something about it. Cognizant that their skills would complement each other well, work to found ViVA commenced that summer.

 

They agreed to an aggressive timeline to get up and running. Organizing as a nonprofit is significantly more difficult than your average business, but the imperative to be a nonprofit was at the core of their new mission in support of students, educators and artists. Having publicly announced the new venture, they’re excited for a startup season of significant growth and are immensely grateful for all of the support that they have received.

ViVA's
Mission

ViVA is a nonprofit education and curatorial platform connecting internationally-recognized artists and projects emphasizing women, BIPOC, LGBTQ+, and social justice to diverse students, educators, and communities across all disciplines and ages.

Land
Acknowledgment

We want to acknowledge that we live and work on the traditional land of the Hopewell and Kaskaskia Peoples past and present, and the Adena before them, and honor with gratitude the land itself and the people who have stewarded it throughout the generations. This calls us to commit to continuing to learn how to be better stewards of the land we inhabit as well.