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Feb 26

AUTHOR: Jasmine Bejar
CATEGORY: Stories of Impact

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Art & You: Alison Gerardot

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Since she was a baby, Alison Gerardot has been engulfed in the arts – so much that it embodies her purpose. “Art is something that lives within me without even thinking about it. To me, life wouldn’t make sense without art. I wouldn’t be who I am without art and creativity. Art isn’t an activity that I DO. It’s who I AM.” Her father is a local musician and graduated from the John Herron School of Art and her mother grew up with the violin and dance. But Alison surely couldn’t have predicted from such a young age the impact that her involvement would have on helping Northeast Indiana achieve excellence, improve access, and advance regional priorities in its creative sector.

Alison works within the broader community in multiple ways. One is serving the Director of Programming and Events for Riverfront Fort Wayne – and a key area of focus for programming and events for the riverfront is arts and culture. When Riverfront Fort Wayne asked the community what they wanted the riverfront to be, arts and culture rose to the top of what people want most in activities on the rivers. With this, she has designed new arts programming that allows people to see our rivers in different ways. You can expect to see many of these projects come to life throughout the late spring, summer and fall of 2016. The goal is to get people of all walks of life interested engaged on the riverfront, and art plays a huge role in achieving that goal.

dAnce.KontemporaryAlison’s involvement in our community extends further into the arts. As the Co-Director of dAnce.Kontemporary, a professional dance company in Fort Wayne,  she and the company push the boundaries within dance to make our community see and feel differently about dance. Dance is a powerful medium for storytelling, and dAnce.Kontemporary strives to share that experience. In its fourth season, dAnce.Kontemporary has grown to a team of 19 talented, committed dancers.

Alison was also one of the founders and developers of the Parkview Headling Arts program in her former position at the Fort Wayne Dance Collective. The Parkview Headling Arts program, in collaboration with the Fort Wayne Dance Collective, integrates literary, movement, music and visual arts into patient care, healthcare facility design and aesthetics, the care of caregivers and the community. This program works in tandem with physical health care under the understanding that mental and spiritual health is an integral part of a person’s healing process. Learn more about the Parkview Healing Arts program.

The literal integration of art into Alison’s life just barely scratches the surface of how art impacts our community.

“What people don’t realize is that the arts are a part of their daily life without them realizing it. People have a misconception that the arts aren’t “for them” because they can’t draw, dance, play an instrument, …fill in the blank. But what people don’t realize is that every time you turn on the radio, you are experiencing someone’s art. When you doodle on your notepad, you are doing art. When you jump around the living room with your kids, you’re moving your body aka dancing. Just because you’re not creating art for someone ELSE doesn’t mean you aren’t capable of having art in your life. Art is just as important when it’s just for YOU.”

As our community makes strides to improve our quality of life, Alison defines success in our community as growth in our creative sector. “It looks like community leaders acknowledging, on not just a cursory level because they feel like they have to, but a real level, that the arts are VITAL to our city’s success. That creativity isn’t just a buzz word to ‘attract and retain talent.’ To take FEAR out of the equation. It’s okay for our city to make mistakes. No one, and nothing is perfect. But if we don’t start DOING things, rather than just TALKING about things, nothing will ever really happen.”

And how does Northeast Indiana look once it’s reached success? It’s beyond all of the logistical and physical changes, according to Alison. The community will share a feeling of pride amongst itself. “We are cool. We deserve cool things. There are cool people making awesome things happen. So start believing it and sharing that message.” 

Thank you, Alison, for being one of these “cool” people and investing your time, energy and talent into making Northeast Indiana a better place for all of us to live!