A team of local artists has come together to launch a production company — which will be offering free online courses this summer. Ayla Sullivan, Jack Dorfman and Anders Minor are graduates from the University of Colorado Boulder. This is also where they first met and decided to launch an ethical media company that focuses on underserved communities. Shift23 Media is run by young creators and aims to make arts education more accessible to all — which is why the founders are launching Summer Education Series.
While Shift23 is currently run out of New York — the company has strong ties to Colorado and still caters to Colorado artists. Sullivan is a celebrated local artist and was awarded the title of being Denver’s second Youth Poet Laureate. Since then, Sullivan has expanded their artistic career by helping create a production company and a free education series.
“We wanted to create the series to allow other youth to learn about themselves, develop their skills and create a community,” Sullivan said.
All of the courses are completely free of charge for anyone who would like to take one. Required materials may be covered by a scholarship. The courses are also all online and run throughout the rest of the summer. Specific courses include “Making a Hit Song,” “Breaking Cultural Stereotypes Through Art” and “Collaborative Directing”.
Lectures will be live and recorded to accommodate students’ schedules and will be taught through Google platforms. While some of the courses are aimed at teen audiences — the creators want to stress that all of the courses will be welcoming to any age group.
“We want to make it clear that you can make art under any circumstances, pandemic or not,” Dorfman said. “We really want to focus on building community among the students so they can have the opportunity to be future collaborators.”
One aspect of Shift23 that sets it apart from other media companies is its focus on inclusive education and ethical production. All clothing and props used in production are recycled, catering is zero-waste and vegan and productions are powered by solar energy. The company also values underserved communities and aims to reach students of all genders and races.
“The majority of us are queer-identifying and many of our collaborators are people of color, so we understand what it’s like to run into constant barriers,” Sullivan said. “It is our duty as artists to be a radical force of change. It’s our core value because we don’t want to imagine a world without diversity and equity and inclusivity.”
Since Shift23 is a non-profit — they are accepting donations that will go towards operational costs related to the Summer Education Series. Other donations will also be split between the Colorado Freedom Fund, the Brooklyn Bail Out Fund and the Heavenly Angels Fund — a project that provides health services to Black transwomen in New York City.
While Shift23’s Summer Education Series began in July, there are still a number of free arts courses available throughout August. This education series may just be the best way to learn new skills and connect with others while remaining physically distanced.