our grantees advancing california through arts & creativity

The MARZ Project
The Ink People: Weaving the Arts into the Fabric of Our Community

Dancing Dana Angel Making Music Dance Party Poster
Published: 05/08/2013

Written By:

Written by Jerome Bearbower, MARZ Project Coordinator

Photos By:

Jerome Bearbower

The Ink People has been changing lives for 34 years. Our DreamMaker Program supports over 70 projects created by people who want to make their communities a better place. Other ongoing programs include exhibitions, performances, lifelong learning opportunities, and the MARZ Project, which provides arts and job training for at-risk youth.

Supporting Safe and Creative Spaces: The Drop In Studio

Since 1997, the Media & Arts Resource Zone, or MARZ Project, has provided a safe space for young people engaging in healthy self-expression, confidence and leadership skills building. Four days a week, students representing a cross section of local youth from very diverse backgrounds come to MARZ to hang out, make friends, work on creative projects at their own pace, and make lasting, positive contributions.

Participants have access to a music recording studio, a computer lab with equipment and editing software for video and digital graphics projects, and an “analog art room” to reinforce studio art fundamentals like drawing and painting. Youth are encouraged to explore the space and to pursue their own creative ideas. The staff supports student-initiated projects from inception to completion, encouraging teens to explore positive means of expression and use creativity to work for change. All MARZ resources and services are free to Humboldt County youth.

The California Arts Council Creating Public Value grant helped MARZ staff support a wide array of drop-in lab projects in 2012, including:

Rosa’s American Sign Language music video

Hunter’s ‘Spy-Hunter’ Video

Job-Training and Community Engagement: The Media Crew

Students who want to take their skills to the next level can join the Media Crew, whose members are formally trained in digital media and then partnered with local clients under the guidance of one of our lead digital media project managers. Clients receive low-cost marketing and digital media services, and students gain valuable skills while getting paid for their work. Our goal is to send students out into the world with skills that they can use to do work they enjoy—work that will pay them a living wage.

The California Arts Council Creating Public Value grant helped MARZ staff support a wide array of Media Crew projects in 2012, including a series of video PSA’s promoting the Youth Ability job training program: Youth Ability video PSAs

MARZ media crew also produced a piece for the RAVEN Project. This mini-documentary about the importance of safe spaces for LGBT youth was shown at a conference in Washington DC to create a greater understanding of issues faced by LGBT teens. The RAVEN Project wanted to bring their students to the conference, but didn't have the funding. Their voices were heard nevertheless, thanks to the MARZ video.

What It’s All About: MARZ All Stars

One of the greatest ways to create public value is to invest in the healthy development of our young people.

Raven originally came to MARZ to challenge one of her fears—that of performing in front of others—and now works as a digital media assistant for the project. Raven produces public service announcements, helps organize alcohol and drug free music concerts, creates and distributes flyers, shoots and edits video projects, helps students in the computer and music recording studio, and yes, performs her original music regularly now.

The music of RaveOn Beautiful:

“I can't imagine where, or even who, I'd be without the MARZ Project,” Raven says. “I've learned a lot of skills that help me feel really confident about what it is I have to offer the world. I believe I can make a positive change in my community.”

Moving Win-Win-Win Forward in 2103

Like many small rural grassroots arts and culture projects, the MARZ Project does the best it can with limited, and always changing, funding. In 2013, MARZ will continue to develop its underlying social enterprise model, seeking to increasingly create ‘win-win-win’ relationships between young artists and community clients, while strengthening its bottom line by earning revenue through contract/fee-based services.

In the coming year, we're looking to relocate to the Jefferson Project, a cross-sector, place-based effort to revitalize Eureka’s poorest and most culturally diverse neighborhood.

California Arts Council funding has been indispensable for the Ink People and we are incredibly thankful for the support!

The Ink People receives funding from the California Arts Council's Creating Public Value Program, which supports arts organizations in rural and underserved communities, and is managed by Lucero Arellano larellano@cac.ca.gov.