New Neighbor Arts Entrepreneurship (August 2019 to January 2020) was a pilot initiative designed to help new migrants and refugees integrate successfully into American society and find a place for themselves in their new neighborhoods through arts careers and entrepreneurism. This six-month pilot project was sponsored by the U.S. Department of State – Alumni TIES.

“I was so pleased to hear about the Dept of State -Alumni TIES pilot program utilizing the arts in Chicago to help new migrants and refugees find a place for themselves in their new neighborhoods.”

Mary Anne Carter, Chairman, National Endowment for the Arts

PROJECT LEAD (Volunteer): Shawn Lent, U.S. Fulbright Scholar 2012-2013

PROJECT PARTNER (Volunteer): Letitia Zwickert, U.S. Fulbright Specialist in Education 2017-2020 and U.S. Fulbright-Schuman Scholar 2016

ACCOUNTABILITY PARTNER (Volunteer): Peter Hoesing, USA, Fulbright-Hays Program 2009-2010


VOLUNTEER TASK FORCE: Kim Carballo, Lizette Garza, Lisa Gonzales, Sami Ismat, Willyum LaBelja, Lauren Rose Milburn, Jeff Poulin, Wilfredo Rivera, Brian Shaw, Shayna Silverstein, Sufyan Sohel, Wendy Sternberg, Ryan Walters, Mijo Vodopic, and Nadia Zeeshan

LEAD ARTISTS: Héctor Alvarez (Spain) – actor and director; Silvita Diaz Brown (Mexico) – choreographer, dancer, acroyogi, and yoga instructor; Maximiliano Illanes Campetella (Argentina) – Opera singer; Sami Ismat* (Syria) – performance-maker, director and teaching artist; Chih Hsien Lin (Taiwan) – dancer, movement philosopher/therapist; Almanya Narula (Thailand) – actor, fight choreographer, writer and arts leader; and Mirza Shams (Egypt) – music producer, composer, pianist and singer
*Also a project Task Force member

The core activity of the project was paid training for a selected group of six migrant/refugee artists. Each of these six lead artists then facilitated an introductory “Arts Careers and Entrepreneurship in Chicago” workshop for other individuals from migrant/refugee communities via host partner organizations in December 2019 at Asian Human Services, Instituto Cervantes, Instituto del Progreso Latino, Refugee One, and Victory Gardens Theater. This work was supplemented by activities to establish and strengthen relationships between the arts sector and migrant/refugee communities in Chicago. The program focused on the performing arts (primarily dance, music, and theatre) and new media.

Contact [email protected] for more information .

This project was funded through an Alumni TIES small grant from the U.S. Department of State.