The Genesis Collective: Where art gives voice to community

The Genesis Collective was created during the pandemic. “In the middle of Covid, the country shut down, George Floyd was murdered, and basically all of the structures we thought were stable collapsed. In those moments where what seems normal collapses, you look to artists and want their prophetic voices and for them to call out the injustice, problems, and a hopeful future,” said executive director Pamela Rossi-Keen.

The Genesis Collective exists to support artists and their work, increase the public’s access to art and creativity, and entrench art in and around community development in Beaver County, Pennsylvania. It is comprised of a diverse group of artists, activists, academics, and organizers who each bring their unique background, experiences, and passions to the work of the collective.

“In Beaver County, there is no Pittsburgh Cultural Trust. There is not a network of support for artists, so people are creating as a hobby. There’s no creative economy,” said Rossi-Keen. “Creativity is our birthright…Often people who are very creative in one realm of their brain may not really be worried about their accounting, but they have to be if they are going to make it a sustainable thing and get their work out to the public. We decided that we would found an organization that would become the backbone and spine of artists in our region.”

Just within its first year, The Genesis Collective has made huge strides supporting art creation locally. It provides creators with state-of-the-art media equipment through its Lending Library. Additionally, The Genesis Collective was a part of the Advancing Black Arts initiative, set up only for Black artists, which produced a community exhibit and three art instructors for community organizations.

For Rossi-Keen, one of the most impactful moments The Genesis Collective has had was through a project partnering with Aliquippa Impact teaching a group of kids photography, interviewing, and taking portraits of community members.

“We put up 50 portraits of Aliquippa community members. This town deserves beauty…People were coming out of the woodwork, and they were speaking with hope and casting vision for their future. It was a temporary installation, 10 days of beauty, and it was the best proof of concept.”

Coming soon, The Genesis Collective will be launching a podcast series connecting funders to artists, debuting an original theatrical production of Beaver County stories this summer, and beginning a summer book club. Rossi-Keen hopes this will continue to unite and engage all of Beaver County.

“We wanted everyone in our community to know whether you’ve been represented in leadership here or felt like you had a voice; this is your voice. This is for you. I think through honest relationship building, we have started to bridge that gap…I’m loving the trust we are gaining with the community.”

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