Member Spotlight: Shawn Lent of Dance Peace
by Molaundo Jones, Special Media Specialist at Fractured Atlas
Shawn Lent is the founder of Dance Peace in Chicago and has been a member of Fractured Atlas for two years.
How has Fractured Atlas benefitted your artistic practice?
Dance Peace is a small initiative that helps refugees in Chicago with healthy social integration and resettlement through dance and music education as well as collaborative performance projects alongside their diverse neighbors. We scale our work to the amount raised each semester. Last year, with Fractured Atlas’ support, we were able to offer 12 scholarships to refugee children, welcome guest artists from Bethlehem in the West Bank, and produce three dance/music performances. Our ideas continue to blossom and improve because of the regular inspiration provided by Fractured Atlas projects and communications.
How has Fractured Atlas benefitted your revenue/income generation?
Being a sponsored project of Fractured Atlas has opened doors to conversations on foundation funding and other opportunities that would have remained closed otherwise. We were originally raising money for Dance Peace through popular crowdsourcing sites, but Fractured Atlas has provided more legitimacy and oversight. In addition, more of the donated income has been going to the project versus the fees we were seeing on those sites. While the income is taxable with both methods, I now understand how to file as Self Employed and was able to save tax money by keeping a better record of expenses thanks to FA’s withdrawal system and other processes.
Why do you think artists and organizations should become members of Fractured Atlas?
Fractured Atlas supports its members with informative newsletters and a highly responsive team. Whenever we’ve needed their help, with everything from dual login complications to differentiating how to process a grant versus contract/earned income, they’ve been there.
Do you have any upcoming events that people should know about?
For the first time in the project’s history, and as a sign of positive social integration, one of our Dance Peace students from Syria is participating in the community Nutcracker, December 8–9.
What is your biggest accomplishment as a result of being a Fractured Atlas member?
We were thrilled to have the initiative featured in a documentary film on Atlantic Media and PBS’s P.O.V. series thanks to the expanding network of creative partners we are reaching. It is the seemingly small moments that reveal the greatest accomplishments. For example, last one of the refugee students had a real breakthrough. Her family lived in five countries before coming to America after leaving Syria. She’s lost important family members and life has been a little all over the place. Understandably, she has a really hard time focusing. Developmentally, she was a little behind. In her movements, she could only do one side. While her Jewish peers were out celebrating Purim, she skipped properly for the first time ever. And then this happened, with pure focus: https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=631030057102510.
About Molaundo Jones
Molaundo Jones is a visual artist, entrepreneur, and arts adminstrator. As Social Media Specialist, he creates strategies and content for social media marketing and works with our members to develop a comprehensive calendar of events. Molaundo is a New York native, earned his MFA in Fine Arts at the School of Visual Arts, and BA in Marketing at Morehouse College. He is founder of The Clever Agency, a communications consultancy and develops professional development programs for Queens Council on the Arts. He has also worked with the New York Foundation on the Arts' Immigrant Artist Mentoring Program and Artist as Entrepreneur Bootcamp and has served as a grant panelist for Bryant Park Corporation, Brooklyn Arts Council, and the Museum of Art and Design.