Refuge Journal 26: Celebrating 3 Years of Refuge

Apr 27 2018

On April 22, we celebrated the 3 year anniversary of co-founders Cory Chisel and Adriel Denae’s first arrival to our property. The duo worked with the existing non-profit alliance for two years to help stabilize the property and the 501(c)(3). They nicknamed the building “The Refuge” and began to bring arts to the facilities. In August 2016, Chisel and Denae were given stewardship of the non-profit, land, and facilities and soon after filed papers to officially change the name to Refuge Foundation for the Arts.

Building and Land Changes

Over the last three years our building has undergone some renovations; most notably we removed the carpet in our chapel and installed reclaimed hardwood floors with help from Urban Evolutions. We also brought our kitchen up to code and installed proper fire suppressants, abated asbestos in the east wing, made many plumbing repairs and updates to our boilers and HVAC systems, and have been able to patch and paint our turret suites. Our small “hermitage” cottage was also beautifully renovated by our friends at Buchanan Lowe’s.

Currently, we are updating our iron railings to bring their space allowance up to code, making them safer for our young visitors. Our apple and pear orchards have been pruned and we’re working on bringing them back to health. We build out more gardens each year, utilizing the Wild Ones plant rescues, and transplant wild flowers and herbs to our property from sites in our community that are being bulldozed. We are continuing to make progress as we are able in order to create a comfortable, clean, and safe environment for our artists and all those we share this space and land with.

In our three years we’ve hosted dozens of cross-disciplinary artists for long-term residencies. A tremendous amount of fine art, poetry, screen plays, literature, sculpture, film, photography, dance, and music have been created here. We’ve also housed many artists who travel to our community for short-term visits including over 200 musicians between Mile of Music 3,4, and 5 and Homeland Experience.

We are constantly seeking ways to integrate the arts in supportive ways with our community, and have worked in partnership with several local organizations to build bridges together for collaboration.

Album Releases

Refuge Foundation for the Arts is building a model to facilitate the release of creative work in a way that gives the artist autonomy and personal agency outside a system of debt. 100% of the profit from sales of work released by Refuge Foundation for the Arts is owned by the artist. The artist is then invited to determine their own way of giving back to the community to support our mission so that more artists are able to create in the future. We have now had two album releases with another two coming soon! Our first album release was in September 2017, when co-founders Cory Chisel and Adriel Denae released Tell Me True. We celebrated the fact that Tell Me True was the #1 Billboard Heatseeker, and all proceeds from the album went to Refuge Foundation for the Arts.

In December 2017 Robert Ellis and Courtney Hartman released our second album, Dear John, a tribute to GRAMMY award winning artist John Hartford. Ellis and Hartman also performed the album for a stunning evening in our chapel.

Our third album release, Traveller’s Western Movies, will be happening on May 4th. You can pre-order the album now on our website!

Adriel Denae released her first single “Build a World” off her forthcoming debut album produced by Norah Jones to be released by Refuge Foundation for the Arts. Courier Journal and USA Today shared her music video, filmed and directed by Refuge artists in residence Oliver Franklin Anderson and Justus Poehls.

Jameson Partnership

In 2017, Refuge Foundation for the Arts partnered with Jameson Music to support 10 emerging artists across the country through access to coaching from established musicians, music distribution, financial support, and live performances. The artists included: HoneyHoneyEve & The ExilesThe London SoulsJ-CouncilKristin DiableCha WaValerie JuneRobert EllisPickwick, and Julia Haltigan. With all artists combined, this partnership resulted in: 500 vinyl records pressed, 500 CDs printed, 6 live or music videos, 5 U.S. and international tours, 3 full length albums funded, 2 promotional photo shoots, 1 single recorded, 1 radio campaign, and 1 stage backdrop. We are so thankful for our partners, and recommend you take a look at what these artists have accomplished! The partnership has continued this year with 10 new artists, and we’re excited to share the successes to come!

Homeland Experience

In September 2017 we had our first annual Homeland Experience event held in Green Bay thanks to our friends at Fox Communities Credit Union. We housed many different artists in our building who performed at the event including Robert Ellis, Austin Lucas, LOLO, Kyle Henderson of Desert Noises, J.S. Ondara, and many more. We additionally partnered with 4th HOOAH—a Veteran’s program that provides music therapy to veterans. This includes guitar lessons and upon completion, a Yamaha Guitar. 4th HOOAH was presented a check at the end of Homeland Experience to further their mission.

We had so much fun the first time that on October 1st Titletown Brewing Company’s rooftop hosted our Homeland Encore event with Alex Ortega, The Priggs, and J-Council performing for one last celebration. Many thanks to all who came out to celebrate with us and a big thanks to Fox Communities Credit Union. We hope to see you at Homeland Experience 2018 on September 21-22!

Feed the Body, Feed the Soul

Together with our friends at Oshkosh Corporation and Fox Communities Credit Union, we held the first Feed the Body, Feed the Soul event with headliners The Temptations, Cat Power, and The Blind Boys of Alabama in August 2017.

Proceeds from the event benefitted Refuge Foundation for the Arts and Feed The Body, Feed The Soul, which assists with basic needs like organic and sustainably sourced food, shelter, skills for a sustainable future, and access to the arts. We were able to purchase enough rice to help feed 35,000 families in Northeast Wisconsin, and our rice packing event at Feeding America had over 1,000 volunteers who helped pack 202,000 pounds of rice. Thank you to our volunteers, the musicians who played while we packed, and everyone who helped make this event possible!

Our next Feed the Body, Feed the Soul event is a Tom Petty tribute at the Menominee Nation Arena on May 31st. A portion of the money raised from the concert will be used to purchase food to host another food packing event. Get your tickets here!

Thank you all for helping us nurture our community over the past three years with your support of the arts and the development of creative events to enrich the culture of Northeast Wisconsin. We’re excited to continue to work with you and to see what the future holds!