Scholars estimate that over half of the world’s roughly 6000 unique cultural and linguistic groups will perish in our own generation. Think about it: What would happen if the way you understand the world, the knowledge you learn from birth, even the words you use every day were gone? It’s difficult for most Westerners to imagine, yet what we usually take for granted occurs in other societies every single year. Furthermore, the developing communities most affected by the loss of cultural heritage are often those with the fewest resources to stop it.
In response, Open Hand Studios takes a human-centered approach to cultural heritage preservation that focuses on the developing communities where most loss occurs. Our projects are partnerships, understanding that the most effective solutions build strong relationships that connect all participants directly in transformative and lasting social change. They also are independent, empowering local people to tell their own stories as they see fit, rather than according to what outsiders deem best. We focus on visual and interactive communication technologies, since these media hold powerful aesthetic and educational appeal, as well as the ability to communicate across cultural divides. Translating these principles to each project’s unique context results in media that not only educate viewers, but also challenge and inspire us all to reconsider others supposedly unlike ourselves. Most importantly, the local partners with whom we work manage revenues created by each project to permanently better their community. In this way, those who know their own needs best are empowered to sustainably develop their own societies.