The International Center for Art and Music at Ouidah (CIAMO) works to promote arts education, cultural development, international partnerships and cultural research as a dynamic tool for growth in the Benin, W Africa. This is achieved through the following goals:
1. Promote creative and cognitive growth in children by offering free high quality arts and music curriculum steeped in local tradition. Free afterschool extracurricular programs and summer camps include dance, theatre, computer skills, and English Language classes.
2. Turn teachers into teachers of the arts. Teachers are trained to be art educators, to integrate the arts into other subjects, and to develop personally as artists.
3. Turn artists into teachers. Help Beninese artists develop technical and teaching skills to engage others in learning through the arts.
4. Promote the culture. Beninese culture is diverse, with 50 ethnic groups all of which offer a wealth of music and art. CIAMO helps students recognize the value of their traditions and also gives them opportunities to share those traditions with others.
5. Promote international partnerships with individuals and organizations through the arts. Arts transcends boundaries of color, race and religions and has historically been a unifying force for creating positive change and for promoting goodwill globally.
CIAMO was inspired through co-founder Sarah duPont and Gigi Hancock's work within the fields of art and music. Sarah, with 30 years of experience as an arts and environmental educator and filmaker, joined forces with Gigi Hancock,the wife of legendary Jazz great Herbie Hancock, and a long list of local and international individuals and organizations to created a dynamic center with the mission to promote the arts to elementary age children in Benin, W Africa. 6 years in development, CIAMO in partnership with the Peace Corps, the community of Ouidah and led by John Mark Feilmeyer, opened it's doors in 2010 to 300 elementary school students. Today, with Oscar Kidjo at the helm,CIAMO thrives as a bustling center for learning, integrating free culturally relevant art and music curriculum to children as part of their weekly class schedule, and a variety of after school programs which include dance, theater, computer skills and English language classes.