Hi friends! Erik here.
This is what First Exposures looked like one year ago when we took a field trip to the de Young Museum. When we gathered for this photo we never expected it to be the last time we met in person for the semester, much less the year. How things have changed! At the time we thought it would just be a couple of weeks and then we’d get back to normal. Those weeks stretched to months to ultimately a year and even though, we haven’t been able to see our mentees or mentors in person yet, we’re happy that we get to still hang out with them every Saturday.
Last spring was hard for everyone. We tried all sorts of ideas and found the difficulty of trying to replicate what we do in person into the virtual world. One of the benefits of working with artists is that they are creative people and over time, we evolved our programming into something much more meaningful than we thought possible at the time. We held our summer classes and residency online, continuing to have amazing enrollment and participation, even as we were learning as we went.
By the time the fall came, our team was ready to go! Not only did we reimagine our programming to thrive in the virtual space, but we deepened meaningful partnerships with Voice of Witness and Gateway High School that are continuing into this year. We did our best to work with all the inequities many of our mentees faced and managed to loan every single one of them a DSLR and/or a computer as needed.
We have seen mentors, mentees and their families directly impacted by the pandemic in ways that have ranged from entire families quarantined to businesses shut down to hospitalizations. We're thankful that our FX family has made it through and some of our team are even starting to get vaccinated.
Despite 2020's challenges, our new building has continued construction and we are scheduled to begin building out our space in early summer which will mean a return to in-person programming when everything feels safe. Our partnership with Youth Speaks has flourished and the possibilities for the future feel endless. None of this would have been possible without so much support, passion, and compassion from our community. We are lucky to have you all in our world and we thank you for being there for us.
Director of First Exposures