Culture Circles

Culture Circles is a participatory art project to transform armed violence in the slums of Caracas by working with young victims and perpetrators.
Diana Rangel
1,035 Facebook Friends
1 Team Member


Transforming violence in Venezuela through participatory art.

Imagine a place where people communicate through an image, a photograph or a poem. Imagine a safe space where teachers help their students without judgment.

Imagine a place to discover new possibilities of expression, where the discussion is social change.

Imagine that this place exists in the 3rd most dangerous city in Latin America, Caracas, Venezuela… where 36 people are injured by gunshot every weekend.

Just Imagine - It is a place that works with both the victims and perpetrators of armed violence in the slums, and actually prevents it. Stops it.  

Imagine that YOU can help:

We are a group of artists, photographers and expressive art therapists, and we have a dream:

Culture Circles is a project involving three different communities, working with more than 80 young Venezuelans (ages 10-25) who are victims or perpetrators of armed violence in the slums of Caracas. Using the visual arts, photography, theatre and/or poetry, these young Venezuelans will tell their stories of social change within themselves and within their communities.

Culture Circles will use methods from the Expressive Arts Therapies, participatory art, and photovoice techniques in order to explore ways of helping young people discover alternatives to violence as a way of life.

For one year we will offer an 8-week arts-based workshops consisting of photography, writing, drawing, and acting out their fears, dreams, hopes and their own story about their reality.

Many theories exist on how art sparks dialogue and offers us ways of understanding and perceiving challenging situations. For example, psychoanalysis aims to bring the unconscious to consciousness through games, jokes, and dreams. In the same way, we use photography and art.

At the end of each workshop, we will present the group’s art in a public exhibition within their community. Our intention is to restore public spaces in the slums and promote participatory art from other community members. At the end of the year, we will present all of our findings in a large exhibition in Caracas with all groups from the different communities in attendance. Their photographs, art pieces, poems and videos will be showcased online in our blog:

To give you an idea…

This work is situated in the social insecurity of Caracas, Venezuela. According to the official statistics from the Venezuelan government, there were 24,000 deaths by guns last year. The perpetrators of this violence are men (95%), between 15 and 29 years old (69%), using firearms (92%) and in most cases, they occur near homes located in the slums of Caracas (83%).

In 2010 we began work in La Dolorita slum, the bloodiest place in Petare, and the 2nd largest favela in Latin America. We collected the testimonies and photographs of seven young gang members who documented their experiences over the span of a year. Our inspiration was to create a dialog that explored the possibility of social change (or personal transformation, and thereby social change) in their lives. After seven months of working together, we began to see changes. Five of the seven participants decided to stop using guns and selling drugs. Instead they explored new ways of relating to others.  

-  Keinel started school again.

-  Rubén moved to a farm in Colombia.

-  Brayan began teaching Rap in a public music school.

-  Wilmes became a gatekeeper and started studying Russian.

-  Julián started working in a restaurant.

“I changed because I saw in my pictures that my life was all about death”

Wilmes told me.

Time has passed and some of the participants have decided to return to their violent ways, however some of them did not. These few want to continue to tell their stories, to make their voices heard. Therefore, our project is to use their images, and their work to inspire collaboration with other community groups in Venezuela.

Wilmes will tell his story to other young gang members:

This is an example of the work of one of our participants.

“I like this picture, this picture is me (…) You will never know what its going to happen. You can’t see anything; and in me you can’t see anything either. This picture it’s like reaching the bottom, you will never find it right? That’s me, you will reach the bottom”

We want this project to be the beginning of a community network reaching more troubled young gangsters, helping them to tell their stories through art, and helping them find different ways of expressing themselves without violence. 

So, what is our plan?

Culture Circles is a group of therapists and artists working together to make social change happen.  Offering spaces where people can lift their voice through the arts.

In order to achieve our goals, we must gather the tools, namely research and training, needed to support our work.

In 2013 we began working with different communities in Petare, offering art workshops where they can begin to talk about the issues that concern them. For example, in the picture below, 35 kids are talking about domestic violence by taking pictures, drawing, and writing poems. 

Soon we came to notice that the history and tradition of this community was being forgotten, so we opened up a free scanning service for families to scan and share their old picture. We are currently compiling the stories of these grandmothers into a short documentary, where they talk about Petare in the old days and what is left to salvage for generations to come. That´s an example of how we creatively adapt to each community !!

News of our work began spreading by word of mouth. Soon communities from El Valle, Petare and Chacao wanted us to work in their slums to offer alternatives to violence.

So we began to create a one-year plan to offer art workshops to these communities. We will be working with more than 100 people throughout the year to make social change happen.

At the end of each workshop we will exhibit the groups’ artwork to their community. We intend for these exhibitions to restore public spaces in the slums and promote participatory art from other members of the community. Their photographs, art pieces, poems and videos will also be showcased online in our blog:

We need your help for this dream to come true.

Without you, we are just a group of dreamers trying to make it real.

Here’s our budget:

We have spent a year researching and designing the workshops; connecting with partners; planning out the logistics; and reaching out to artists, educators and therapists to work with us. We are ready to implement the project; our communities are waiting!

With YOUR HELP we will:

-  Get equipment:

  •   Get disposable cameras and art materials for the workshops. We will give at least four 8 week workshops, 30 people in each one.
  • Print the images to work with them using collage, diaries, and micro exhibitions.

-  Create public exhibitions and interventions using the community´s work. Three exhibitions (minimum), one in each community, and one global closure one.

-  Restore public places where these exhibitions will be made.

  •  We will create a mural in this place, where we will have an exhibition. La Dolorita 

-  Stipends and training program for mentors. Our artists need supervision and advise from psychologists to get tools for social change.

-  Enable a website for our online gallery.

-  Project coordination, oversight, monitoring and evaluation.

-  Opening program, midterm event, and closing ceremony for all the participants.

-  Create, design and print a catalog documenting the entire experience.

-  English translation of all the stories, chronicles and testimonies.

The dream:

Our dream is to liberate the voices of young people affected by violence. We want to help them explore new choices, opportunities, and ways of relating to others.

The Venezuelan government and public media ignore this critical situation and no one is offering alternative solutions to violence.

We already proved in our research that this technique is effective in stopping gun use and the selling of drugs to earn a living. Now we are looking to scale our impact in other communities. Photography changed the life of these violent young men in surprising ways, your money will support our work in lifting their voices, spread their stories, and get more youth involved.

Join our dream and you will be part of a life changing experience!

How this will continue…

After this year, we hope to repeat our project in other communities, to train more facilitators, to cultivate social change agents, in order to eradicate violence from our city, Caracas. We want to affect change in more and more places, and spread our work all over Venezuela.

How you can follow our work…

Who is behind this great idea?

We are looking forward to meeting our supporters in person. In the meantime, here is a little bit about the people behind-the-scenes.

Info en español: 

Transformando la violencia delincuencial a través del arte participativa.

El proceso del arte, más allá de su resultado estético, nos descubre y reconstruye como seres humanos.

Las técnicas de expresión artística se encuentran más que nunca con la posibilidad de usarse como herramienta terapéutica profesional. Una vez que se experimenta personalmente el poder terapéutico detrás del arte, surge la posibilidad de entregar y difundir esta herramienta de crecimiento y descubrimiento personal.

El hacer arte permite darle forma a las vivencias y conflictos, creando nuevas posibilidades en la vida de la persona. Es decir, no sólo al crear se evidencia la patología sino también los recursos y las posibilidades de cambio. Existe la satisfacción de poder crear algo y tener un sentido de dominio sobre el problema, moldearlo. Se trabaja por ejemplo con pacientes con trauma ya que el arte brinda no sólo la posibilidad de expresar el trauma sino también de poder hacer algo con éste, darle una nueva forma, aspecto fundamental dentro de esta disciplina.

El objetivo primordial del grupo Círculos De Cultura es abrir espacios de generación y producción de discurso a través del arte con finalidades educativas y de empoderamiento. A partir delacto de verbalizar es que se exteriorizan las ideas, se objetivizan y se convierten parte del mundo externo y no interno.


Actualmente Venezuela se encuentra en uno de sus momentos más violentos. En el año 2013 murieron 24.790 personas a manos de la violencia armada. 

Según distintas investigaciones desde la psicología y sociología, los protagonistas de esta violencia armada son en su mayoría hombres de 15 a 25 años de edad, los delitos suceden porque son portadores de armas, tienen acceso a las drogas y suceden en muchos casos cerca de sus casas por peleas entre bandas de sectores populares del país. 

Este proyecto busca trabajar directamente con esa población. Ofreciéndoles un espacio para dialogar y descubrir otras posibilidades en ellos mismos. 

Nuestro Plan:

Círculos de Cultura se ha vuelto parte de la asociación civil sin fines de lucro Banredi para trabajar en dos liceos del barrio de La Dolorita en Petare.

En estos espacios, la delincuencia juvenil tiene una presencia inminente que afecta a todos los miembros de la comunidad, ya que en estos liceos hay al menos doscientos jóvenes víctimas y victimarios de actos ilegales y delictivos.

Nuestro plan consta de tres fases: Diagnóstico, Estrategias de Enlace y Ayuda directa a los muchachos. Círculos de Cultura se encargará de la planificación de las dos primeras y Banredi de la última, ya que es una asociación civil que sirve de puente entre el adolescente y la cultura, detectando potencialidades en el joven y ayudándolo a buscar otras alternativas de vida apartadas de la violencia.

Trabajaremos un año en este proyecto piloto, creando cada paso las tres fases explicadas anteriormente. Para lograrlo NECESITAMOS DE TU AYUDA.

Las dos primeras fases constan de actividades artísticas y educativas que sirvan como catalizadoras del discurso en los jóvenes:

-  Talleres de fotografía

-  Talleres de pintura

-  Talleres de teatro y música

-  Talleres de crónica.

Al final de cada taller se crearán exposiciones, se restaurarán espacios públicos para las mismas y se buscarán presentaciones públicas de los proyectos.

De esta manera estamos empoderando al joven a ver otras posibilidades de vida y de descubrir su potencial como ser humano.

Cómo puedes colaborar??

De miles de maneras!!!!

1.  Puedes acceder a nuestra página de Crowfunding dándole click al link y ser realmente sponsor de una de nuestras actividades, exposiciones o dándole una cámara a un muchacho. Para donar en en esta página necesitas una cuenta Paypal, que se saca en unos minutos en esta página web:

2.  Puedes depositar en una cuenta Venezolana también mandando un email a

3.  Puedes colaborar con materiales fotográficos: Rollos 35 mm de foto, cámaras desechables, cámaras digitales que ya no usen en casa, impresoras que no usen en casa, tinta para impresoras y otros materiales de arte. Si deseas una lista completa de materiales escribenos a nuestro email.

4. Dándonos espacios para dar charlas y hablar de lo que hacemos. Eso también es necesario en todos los contextos que sean posibles. 

Find This Campaign On
raised by 68 people in 1 month
13% funded
No time left
$30,000 USD goal
Flexible Funding This campaign has ended and will receive all funds raised.
Campaign Closed
This campaign ended on April 17, 2014
Select a Perk
  • $10USD
    Give art materials

    Little by little your help is essential!!! With your 10$ we will buy art materials for our visual art workshops and urban interventions. We will be sending you images and mention your name on our blog!

    6 claimed
  • $25USD
    Give a Camera

    With 25$ we can buy a disposable camera to one participant, we can also buy a notebook and a pencil to facilitate story telling tools. If you give us 25$ we will tell your name to the participant you helped and show you his/her work. Your name will appear in our website and you will receive an original photograph from the participant you helped.

    23 claimed
  • $50USD
    Give TWO cameras

    You are making us work quicker!!! Now we can buy two disposable cameras for two participants!!! We will tell your name to the participants you helped and show you his/her work. Your name will appear in our website and you will receive an original photograph from the participant you helped.

    6 claimed
  • $75USD
    Give exhibition materials

    For our exhibitions we will need a lot of help. WHY? Because we will do them in different communities, different public spaces and places in the slum. With your 75$ we will have enough to cover the materials needed to have a perfect exhibit in any place. We will also send you pictures of the show, mention your name in the exhibit, website and social media.

    0 claimed
  • $100USD
    Host a workshop

    You are awesome!! You helped us to buy supplies for more than seven participants. We will send you an original signed printed catalog from the participants of one workshop with all her/his photostory. Your name will appear in our website, future publications and exhibitions.

    11 claimed
  • $100USD
    Host a Workshop

    You are awesome!! You helped us to buy supplies for more than seven participants. We will send you an original signed printed catalog from the participants of one workshop with all her/his photostory. Your name will appear in our website, future publications and exhibitions.

    0 claimed
  • $150USD
    Document the process

    We need to hire a videographer and photographer to document some of our activities. For each month of the year, we will have a budget of 150$ for this person. If you believe in documenting and you are interested in this process, you can help us!! We will send you a limited edition catalog at the end of the year.

    1 out of 12 claimed
  • $250USD
    Host Two workshops

    woww!! You helped us to buy supplies for more than 11 participants. We will send you an original signed printed catalog from the participants of both workshops with all her/his photostory. Your name will appear in our website, future publications and exhibitions and you will get an original signed print from one participant.

    1 out of 7 claimed
  • $350USD
    1000 postcards for Petare

    We will need at least 700 postcards to share from the 100 original postcards that will be created from our participants. Printing in Venezuela is one of the most difficult tasks, if you are helping us in here is because you are an angel and you deserve a set of signed postcards.

    0 claimed
  • $450USD
    Help us to produce catalogs

    We will need to put our great designer and photographer to work hard on this! We also need to print them and find paper for it (a task that became impossible in Venezuela). So you will be helping us A LOT to put our experience into something that will last for years and that we can share with others!! You will get a set of catalogs and a limited edition set.

    1 claimed
  • $500USD
    Host an exhibition

    With 500 we will be able to afford the costs of an exhibition in the community. Your name will be mentioned and also you will have a voice in the decision making panel. You can also choose an art piece for yourself and we will send it no cost to your door. You will also receive a signed catalog of the exhibition, signed by all the artists. Your name will also be in our website, facebook, twitter and further

    0 claimed
  • $750USD
    Help us print our exhibitions

    For every workshop there is one exhibition within the community. For that we need a lot of help but the most difficult task is the printing!! This activity is so expensive in Venezuela that nowadays its impossible to find photopaper, and when we find it there is no ink. so! imagine how AMAZING your help is. For this, you can choose two art pieces from the exhibitions for yourself.

    0 out of 10 claimed
  • $850USD
    Help us produce a book

    Help us to produce our long term dream: To create a book with all the work from the year, the photographs, art pieces, writings from our workshops. Of course you will have a free signed copy of the book and we will involve you in the whole making process.

    0 claimed
  • $1,000USD

    We don’t have words to tell you how grateful we are!!!! Because without your help we wouldn’t make this possible, we will: - Tell your name to all our participants (from all the communities) and open a way they can communicate with you. - Your name will be in all our exhibitions. - From all the work produced, you will choose three images to be printed, signed and framed for you. - We will give you for free our publication with all the stories from our participants.

    0 claimed
  • $1,500USD
    Restore a public place

    we dont have words for what you are doings...This is beyond our limits, but we know that there is extremely generous people out there in the world. Giving us 1500 to restore a public space means: making murals, painting parks, building benches, cleaning public spaces!! We will put your name on the mural, bench, park we build and make the whole community know that you helped them.

    0 out of 4 claimed
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