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ArtBark Biography

ArtBark International, founded in 2012, is an outgrowth of 18 years experience as SonneBlauma Danscz Theatre, 25 years as Stephen Kelly Music, and over 15 years of professional experience of European creative Mojca Majcen. Since its founding ArtBark has shared dance and physical theater, music, installation art, performance art as well as experimental genres in California, Austria, France, New York, and Connecticut.  Additionally, they have supported over 250 other creatives through performance and teaching opportunities.

As a collaborative and co-creative collective with organizers based in New York, California, and Celje, Slovenia, we value playfulness, honesty, integrity, digging deep, spontaneity, adventure, curiosity, transformation, and amusement.

Acclaimed as “forward thinking artists” by the Santa Barbara Independent, the collective embraces innovative ways of organizing that shifts the paradigm of how professional artists come together and grow as they work across the United States and the Atlantic through both residencies and the internet. We commit to staying abreast of how the field is evolving by inviting artists to participate in projects that serve to experiment with new ways of organizing that have a slightly socialist bent. That is to say, rather than serving our sole artistic interest, if we have the means, we welcome other creatives to share their gems when we have the resources to produce showings, showcases, and festivals. Recent examples include our award winning ADaPT Festival series and its          
                                                                                                                           associated Affinity and Minty Projects.

More than just a dance company

ArtBark is more than just a dance company. It's an inter-generational (and inter-species) collective made up of dancers, choreographers, actors, musicians, visual artists, and writers. Many of us straddle multiple disciplines. Some of us have decades of experience and training in our disciplines, and when we come to do this work together, we get to express and share that experience as well as learn and play with disciplines and media that are new to us. 

We come together to make art not just for art's sake, but to build community. When we come together to create, we build relationships with one another. In these relationships, we feel seen, heard and valued. We come to trust one another as we take risks and rev our creative engines. We support each other as artists and as human beings--because no artistic process can move forward even an inch without individual heart, soul and mind investment. In playing and working together, we build social capital, a term that describes the value of the networks of relationships among people. 

Social capital is just like economic capital: it has value, it can be accrued and spent, and when it's short, negative impact results. Over the past half century, social capital has become a far more rare commodity in Western nations where emphasis and value are placed on competition, materialism and entertainment. Where sharing, caring, mutual support, empathy, and creative expression are lacking, so is social capital. And a growing body of research finds that low social capital correlates strongly with poor psychological and physical health. 

ArtBark's mission is, in part, about celebrating the gifts each person brings just by being their creative selves. By coming together to build art, and by welcoming others to view and participate in it, we don't just have temporary enjoyment. We promote a healthier culture and healthier bodies, minds and hearts. From that place, we can become forces for healing for the entire planet.

Our History

Recent Years

2012 to Present – SonneBlauma Evolves into ArtBark International

2012 marked a big shift with SonneBlauma Danscz Theatre celebrating its 15th season.
The company morphed into ArtBark International, expanding the scope of SonneBlauma's mission to welcome international cross-cultural exchange and foster the vision of building cultural bridges between different cities and countries meeting the needs of under-served "working class" professional artists from all walks of life.

2012 projects included:

Affinity I: performances in Los Angeles and Santa Barbara - an artist performance exchange and networking session including cross-cultural collaborations with Slovenia and the USA.
Affinity II: performance in Paris, France - an artist performance exchange and networking session including cross-cultural collaborations with Slovenia, France and the USA.
Affinity III: a mini-festival including master classes, artist networking sessions, presentations about art resources in New York and Los Angeles, performance exchange and celebration

Tour to NYC to perform at Green Space Studios in Dance Entropy’s “Take Root” & “Fertile Ground” performance series.

Tour to Europe for the 2nd in the ADaPT Festival Series the RAW MATTERS ADaPT Special Festival www.rmadaptfest.com

Assisted with production with performances at Palais Kablewerks, contraMASS Galerie with master classes and artist gatherings also held at Palais Kablewerks. Participating artists from Hungary, Estonia, Austria, Turkey and 3 American choreographers.

Participation in NECTAR showcases in Santa Barbara, California

Participation in the MixMatch Festival at the Miles Memorial Playhouse in Santa Monica, CA

Participation in the Electric Lodge MAX10 series in Venice Beach, California

2013 Projects:

ARTBARK INTERNATIONAL PRODUCTIONS

ArtBark International & Friends: ADaPT Festival 2013

Production of the 3rd critically acclaimed ADaPT Festival

Artists from Slovenia and the United States: New York and California
Performances at Center for Performance Research (New York), Center Stage Theater (Santa Barbara, CA), ARC Pasadena (Los Angeles, CA)
Artist gatherings in New York and Santa Barbara
Master classes at the Montecito School of Ballet and Center Stage Theater
Outdoor performances at the Paseo Nuevo Mall & Cut the Edge Emerging Genre Installation at the Pescadrome in
Minty
Production of a tri-city studio showing

In New York at DANY Studios
Santa Barbara at Yoga Soup
Celje, Slovenia at Dance Theater IGEN studios.

Residency and Performance at the Dragon’s Egg in Ledyard Connecticut
New York, California, and Slovenian ArtBarkers gathered for a 11 day residency at the Dragon’s Egg in Connecticut moving their Alma Karlin Project Forwards and also performed for the Mystic community works in progress and select repertory works.

Performances in Productions Produced by others

WEST COAST
Premiered One World is Never Enough at the Awakenings and Beginnings Festival at Diavolo Theater, Los Angeles


Performed our 7th year on the adjudicated Santa Barbara Dance Alliance annual Kinesis concert, Center Stage Theater, Santa Barbara

As a part of their expanding audiences strategies the company participated in a 1st Thursdays event produced by the Santa Barbara Downtown Organizaton and invited companies local to the area to also share their creative work.

Participation & Production support in NECTAR: Love Allways at Yoga Soup, Santa Barbara

Previewed a wonderful new solo, Patchwork Chameleon, set to a sensitive score collaboratively created by Phillip A. Mergatroide and outsider artist Isa Topete for the MAX10 series at the Electric Lodge in Venice Beach, CA

ArtBark International served as guest artists for Rubans Rouge Dance Company’s Red Ribbons & Memories Dance Concert at ARC Pasadena
in Pasadena, CA

ArtBark International presented Patchwork Chameleon and Recall is Never Replay in the MixMatch Festival at the Miles Memorial Playhouse
in Santa Monica, Ca

ArtBark International performed in the Nancy Evans Dance Theatre Family/Friends/Dance Festival at the Porticos Art Space in Pasadena, CA

EAST COAST

ArtBark International performed Patchwork Chameleon and Unzipped in the Green Space Blooms Dance Festival in Queens, NY

ArtBark International performed The Presence of Absence on the Dragon’s Egg annual show at Triskelion Arts in Brooklyn, NY

Early History
Upon graduation from California Institute of the Arts with the goal of establishing a contemporary dance company Misa Kelly in collaboration with her husband Stephen Kelly and friend Sarah Wingren set out to establish a non-profit for the company as well as Stephen Kelly's musical adventures. Seeking to service more than their own work Stephen suggested naming the organization the Future Traditions Foundation & they went to work designing it in such a way that the non-profit would also be able to serve other artists in the community.

The Co-Founders met with many artists in the community one on one and asked them to convey what their perceptions were with regard to their personal unmet needs. They then used this information as a springboard for drafting the bylaws of the Future Traditions Foundation (FTF.) The end result was a set of bylaws that was diverse enough to encompass the expressed needs within the community that were not being met by other local non-profits along with meeting SonneBlauma's own needs with ample growing room for a very large vision.

In November of 1998 The Future Traditions Foundation received its 501 (C) 3 status.

1998-2005
Seeking to address the observation that in the non-profit sector much more seems to be spent on administration & overhead than passing funds on to artists to manifest their projects FTF committed to operating with a streamline budget on 100% volunteer efforts working out of a free home office. They succeeded in funneling 98% of their funds directly into making projects happen and continue to do so to this day. During this period FTF focused on the following:

LAUNCHING SONNEBLAUMA working on a project to project basis.

UMBRELLA PROJECTS: We provided free umbrella services to local dance companies and independent artists taking on special projects such as providing dance classes for children of homeless parents at Christmas time.

GOLDEN GIFTS: Reaching out to low and moderate income households providing free tickets to local dance, theater, and music events. Also reached out to low and moderate income artists providing costume subsidies, free video documentation services, technical support for their productions, and rehearsal space subsidies made possible by funding from the Santa Barbara County Arts Organization.

PERFORMANCES & WORKSHOPS: Serving low and moderate income artists we produced workshops & studio showings at what was then Studio B and produced many dance and music events at Center Stage Theater and the Music Academy of the West.

2005-2011

In 2005 our Board of Directors decided to narrow the focus in order to better achieve the Foundation's goal of growing the Foundation's dance company, SonneBlauma Danscz Theatre. The singular focus enabled us to complete over 100 “happenings” locally, regionally, and internationally taking SonneBlauma's work to the next level.

In this time period SonneBlauma:

ACHIEVED INTERNATIONAL STATUS: In 2008 SonneBlauma became an international company traveling to Istanbul to perform at the AFL Kültür Merkezi with the Ziggurat Dance Company and to give a lecture demonstration and conduct a week long workshop at Çatı.

VENTURED TO THE BIG APPLE: in 2010 SonneBlauma performed in the COOL New York Dance Festival & engaged in their Perceptions of Performance in Guerilla Spaces project at the Met and MOMA.

PERFORMED IN MANY FESTIVALS AND SHOWCASES LOCALLY & IN NORTHERN AND SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA: Venues and Festivals including:

2006, 2007, & 2010: SpectorDance Monterey Dance Festival – Emerging Choreographers Showcase
2009, 2010, 2011: Electric Lodge in Venice Beach as a part of their MAX10 series

2010: MixMatch Festival in L.A. , 5x5x5 Performance Art Series in Ventura, CA at the Sylvia White Gallery, MAX10 at the Electric Lodge in Venice Beach

2009, 2010, 2011: NECTAR performance series at Yoga Soup in Santa Barbara

2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011: Premiered new work on the Santa Barbara Dance Alliance's New Works concert

TOURED CALIFORNIA to mostly sold out venues as a part of our 3 Cities: 3 Choreographers project performing at Diavolo Theater in Los Angeles, Shall we Dance in Pacific Grove, Project 418 in Santa Cruz, & Center Stage Theater in Santa Barbara

EDUCATIONAL OUTREACH: We've provided free professional training to low and moderate income artists in the community by opening up our company class and hosting master classes led by world class educators.

DANCE AND MUSIC EVENTS: We've produced many events locally including:
Rhapsodies for Humanity and the Glorious Beings Award at the Music Academy of the West

Paul Livingstone in Concert at Center Stage Theater

SonneBlauma Studio showings in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, & 2010 at the Montecito School of Ballet

Dance at the Top of the Hill in collaboration with Teresa Johnson at Center Stage Theater

Circle of Chi at the Music Academy of the West & the Unitarian Church

From Chopin to Senegal at the Music Academy of the West

UMBRELLA SERVICES: FTF offered umbrella services to others including Ray Tischer and his "Alzheimer's Art Video" project and Budhi Harlow's "Dance of the Forest African Rhythm project" with at risk youth.

COLLEGES & UNIVERSITIES: in 2008 SonneBlauma was invited by Beth Megill to come teach a master class at Moorpark College and to present work on their Spring Concert. What a joy! Since then SonneBlauma has taught a Master class at Santa Barbara City College, been a guest artist in their 2010 Spring Concert Behind the Words, produced and presented the first UCSB Alumni Studio Showing, was invited to teach a partnering workshop at Westmont college, and is presently volunteering at SBCC.

SB-ADaPT FESTIVAL: in June of 2011 SonneBlauma Danscz Theatre produced its first international Dance and Physical Theater Festival with events occurring within a three week time frame. 50 + Companies/Independent artists from 23 different cities and 5 different countries gathered to be a part of 22 different happenings at 6 different locations in 3 different cities.

The Festival was a HUGE success and was incredibly well received by the community and Misa Kelly received a prestigious indy Award from the Santa Barbara Independent for Artistic Direction of the Festival. It was the first time in the history of the award that someone from the dance community received this award. To learn more about this Festival please visit www.adaptfest.com.