The Art of Coming Together
In its first ever global conference held outside of New York City, the United Nations presented the UN Conference for Civil Society in Salt Lake City, UT in August 2019. The Everyone Belongs Project, a nonprofit organization focused on building understanding across race, religion, and ethnicity in America’s youth, was invited to present as part of the global gathering.
A blank canvas. A palette of rich colors. Stroke by stroke, the artist crafts a masterpiece. Every miniscule dot matters. Every streak is essential. Each dab of color adds vibrancy and depth. The resulting work of art is more than just a skillful expression. It is a symbol – an emblem of the human family. Each person matters. Each life is essential. Every color, race, ethnicity, and belief system adds vibrancy and depth to the panorama of humanity. In 2019, a fledgling Utah nonprofit was just finding its footing in the critical work of breaking down cultural, religious, and sociopolitical barriers among youth in the United States. Their message? We all contribute to what’s good in our communities. We all matter. Everyone belongs. How would the essence of this message be excavated, bottled up, and shared with the energy of youth and the vibrancy of the cultures the organization so desperately wanted to unite? How would the spirit of the movement be articulated? That’s where WB Creative comes in.
With a desire to build on their unprecedented opportunity, Everyone Belongs tasked WB Creative to develop and produce media that would communicate the vision and feeling of their message during the conference presentation and online thereafter. The project was to be completed on a very tight timeline, with only a couple of weeks to concept, produce, edit, and deliver final assets for the presentation and social release.
WB spent hours in discussion with key leaders from Everyone Leads, listening and learning about the subtle nuances of their mission and views on critical societal issues. What emerged was a vision that would bring to life the unbiased, accepting, joyful perspectives of children and youth and their willingness to work together to solve civil problems through the energy of a music video with a special twist: the video would show kids not just singing together, but working together to create an inspiring piece of public art.
The WB team concepted a large mural that would be created entirely from the handprints of children and teens. The art piece would depict a growing sense of love in the world – a red and pink heart in the center of a blue/green earth, surrounded by bright, multi-colored handprints of many sizes. At the bottom, a simple phrase would summarize the key message: We Belong. WB designed the mural and sought out a location for its placement. A beautiful site was found on the grounds of an organization where the art’s message would carry important meaning and bring hope to suffering young people: the Salt Lake Valley Youth Center, Salt Lake County’s youth detention facility.
Building on their dialogue with the Everyone Belongs team, WB wrote and produced an original pop song, Everyone Belongs, as the theme for the organization and video. Local artists O/B/A and Abele were invited to collaborate as featured performers. To round out the rest of the video’s cast, WB conducted a broad casting initiative, reaching out to youth performance organizations and coaches throughout northern Utah. A diverse cast of young singers and cultural dancers were selected to participate. During the following weeks, WB led rehearsals, recording sessions, and pre-production meetings, coordinating all the elements of the project, including message refinement, media and music production, art direction, public relations, and more.
On an August morning, the cast and crew gathered at the Salt Lake Valley Youth Center to film the video and create the mural. Production was an all-day affair in the late summer heat, but as the mural began to take shape, and as youth from across northern Utah sang and danced together, the spirit of the Everyone Belongs project was on full display. Through many hours, WB led an on-set experience that kept the large cast of youth and teens engaged and enlivened by the message of belonging and hope inherent in the music and its message. At WB’s invitation, local NBC affiliate KSL-TV was on site in preparation to run a story after the video’s launch several days later. With the filming complete, WB worked through the weekend, delivering draft creative to the Everyone Belongs team within 36 hours of wrapping production. With a few minor adjustments, and only several hours later, the video was prepared for a Monday morning release at the UN Conference.
On launch day, the Everyone Belongs Project was received by an eager audience at the UN Conference for Civil Society, punctuated by the new video shown as the presentation’s closing. Immediately thereafter, the video launched across social media channels. In its first several days, it racked up more than 20,000 organic views, driven by more than 300 shares on social media. KSL-TV broadcast an impactful story about the video and project to the 100K+ viewers of its nightly 10 o’clock newscast. The campaign positioned Everyone Belongs as a key player in the Utah discussion about diversity and inclusion and set the organization on course to accomplish its mission.
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