Restoration Village Arts facilitates local and international collaboration with artists, communities and organizations to produce music, liturgy and advocacy resources in support of peace, love and justice work.
Restoration Village Arts (formerly Restoration Village) began as a small nonprofit to support the music and collaboration of The Restoration Project, a band led by Tracy Howe. At its start in 2000, The Restoration Project gained wide recognition and popularity among colleges and universities. They also played in coffee houses, rehab centers, churches, prisons and other nontraditional venues in North, Central and South America. The Restoration Project sought to demonstrate a different kind of touring and artistry that was supported by a community. Record sales, contracts and regular giving partnerships all supported the the work and allowed them to participate in creative collaboration for the sake of transformation and peacemaking.
In 2009 Tracy stepped away from full time touring to complete a Masters at Harvard Divinity School. She continued to compose new music and develop her artistic perspective and in April of 2011 she released Hold On To Love, a full-length world-gospel project that forged a new kind of genre between Taize chant, World Music and congregational singing. The project was brought to life by other artists and communities around the world and represents what The Restoration Project became musically and relationally after 10 years of touring. The songs have found their way into many peace and justice movements and groups such as Sojourners, Amahoro-Africa, Bread For the World, the Micah Network, Christian Peacemaker Teams, Occupy, The Boston Theological Institute, The Work of the People, Wild Goose Festival and the Latin American Theological Institute.
The songs resonated deeply with communities and organizations longing to integrate spirituality with their love and justice work. Over the next several years, Tracy received a number of invitations to direct worship and liturgy for international and ecumencial gathering bringing her further into a rich network of artists and people committed to justice work and peacemaking and continued to reflect on the global issues and injustice she confronted while traveling. She was joined by her husband, Seth Wispelwey, a seasoned grassroots organizer who had worked for Bread For the World, the ONE Campaign and Fair Trade Boston and who now serves with International Justice Mission and is a commissioner on the newly formed Human Rights Commission in Charlottesville, VA where Tracy and Seth both reside. In re-imaging Restoration Village Arts, other close partners also stepped into the process. Ruth Padilla Deborst (Director of Spirituality and Formation for World Vision International) and Eric Haines (Founder of River Valley Studio in Williamsport, PA) both stepped onto the board of directors for Restoration Village Arts and brought with them a new vision and possibility.
Through working with Ruth, Tracy was invited to work with a group of Latin American artists to launch an international creative network called Arte y Mision Integral (integral mission and art). Tracy went on to co-direct the art and liturgy for the 5th International Congress of the Latin American Theological Fellowship in Costa Rica the summer of 2012. Eric brought over 25 years of management experience and formal education in music business. He helped transform Restoration Village Arts from a one-woman operation into an internationally recognized nonprofit and helped establish some of RVA’s most successful programs including the 2012 artist grant program that ensured the participation of individuals from all corners of Latin America in the 5th International Latin American Congress. It was a tremendous success and cemented many of the international partnerships that now form Arte y Misión Integral as well as Restoration Village Arts. RVA continues to provide the basic infrastructure for the international artist network and now has been commissioned to continue developing relationship with artists around the world and produce new resources for the Micah Network’s 3 global initiatives: integral mission, violence against women and reconciliation.
Bread For the World also has sought long term partnership with RVA after the successful production of the compilation CD “Songs For 1,000 Days: Artists Advocating for the Food Security of Vulnerable Women and Children,” a project funded by the Gates foundation and realized through the relationships, resource and vision of Restoration Village Arts. A refined and focused mission has now emerged for Restoration Village Arts and our work is secured in the relationships and resources we have built for over a decade: Restoration Village Arts facilitates local and international collaboration with artists, communities and organizations to produce music, liturgy and advocacy resources in support of peace, love and justice work.