Meredith Charreyron set up the Grenoble chapter of VSArt, a large French volunteer association that brings cultural opportunities to disadvantaged and elderly people. She talks to Grenoble Life about VSArt’s activities, her background, and opportunities to participate as a volunteer in the city.
Grenoble Life: What is VSArt?
Meredith Charreyron: VSArt is a French association, based in Paris, in existence for 22 years. Its purpose is that of bringing cultural activities to the less fortunate in a manner that promotes personal exchange, in an “interactive” form.
GL: What sorts of activities?
Meredith: VSArt’s Grenoble chapter (now five years old) is divided into three sectors, organizing and promoting cultural activities in each:
- Musical – proposing concerts and workshops, be they classical, jazz, variety
- Artistic/manual: organizing craft and arts workshops (floral composition, jewelry-making, photography, painting and sculpture …)
- Computer training: where we teach those with limited means basic computer skills on a one-to-one basis (every Friday, in La Villeneuve)
GL: How did you get involved?
Meredith: I lived near Paris, performed regularly in small chamber music ensembles and came across VSArt musicians by chance at one of their concerts. I made initial contact with the head of the music sector at VSArt’s headquarters (Paris XVI) and engaged myself, promising a few hours of administrative work with the team each Tuesday.
GL: You opened the Grenoble chapter for VSArt. What did this involve?
Meredith: When I moved to Grenoble six years ago with my family, I knew no one in the area. I was anxious to start making contacts in the music world, and was also anxious to find some friends! The music solution came quickly, once I learned of the existence of Musiques Pour Tous, an association that has existed locally for some 32 years and brings together amateur and semi-professional musicians of all kinds. Once a part of this network, I saw the possibility of starting up a VSArt chapter on a small scale, offering musical animations as our “cultural product”. So I pulled out the yellow pages, contacted several centers for the aged, the handicapped, and took it from there …
GL: Tell us about some of your volunteer members and where they come from.
Meredith: One of the true riches of the Grenoble chapter of VSArt lies in the diversity of its volunteer members. There are about 65 of us: most of the musicians are French but on the artistic side we have a pool of 30 (mostly female) members. They are of all ages, 11 nationalities, varied backgrounds. Meeting each other, working together, sharing our talents – all part of the pleasure enjoyed by these volunteers (of which I am one!).
GL: VSArt collaborates regularly with Café Nicodeme – tell us more about this relationship.
Meredith: Café Nicodeme, in the heart of Grenoble, is just one of the “centers” where VSArt intervenes. For the past two years we have held monthly jewelry-making workshops for Nicodeme members. The rapport between our two associations is a particularly gratifying one. Since you are interested in this collaboration, I suggest that you view this télévideo that shows us working together.
GL: Tell us about some upcoming events organized by VSArt
Meredith: Each year members of VSArt’s music sector organize events in the form of fundraising concerts that are open to the general public. Our annual classical concert will again be held at the Bertet Musique auditorium in Gieres, Sunday March 27, 18:00–19:30. In 2010 we will again hold a series of private concerts (in people’s homes).
GL: Could you tell us a little about your background?
Meredith: In order of importance to me: I am a mother of four (and wife of one Frenchman) who has relocated her family nine times. I’m a former hotel marketing professional, a teacher, a flutist and an avid “sportive”. Why did our family relocate this last time, from Paris to Grenoble in 2003? … My husband’s career brought us here.
GL: How can people participate in VSArt activities?
You can read the short text and view the three télévideos I have referred to, in order to have a good idea of what our cultural workshops are all about. You should know that these activities take place almost exclusively on weekday afternoons.
If your interest continues, feel free to email our local team or give a call. Our recruiters would be happy to meet with you after sending you more information on VSArt Grenoble.
Meredith.Charreyron (at) gmail.com
06 74 50 67 40