"Our generation's biggest crime may be robbing children of chances to make things with their own hands and brains. And, we must do something about it."
- Yukita Kusunoki
MAI and Savin’ Mozz
The MozzArt Initiative (MAI) was founded in 2008 by a group of artists and education activists in Japan and the United States who got together to encourage the implementation of quality arts education programs in primary and secondary schools. Since its inception, MAI has been actively working with parents, children and experts in a variety of artistic and academic fields around the world in its efforts to support students' personal development and promote good arts education opportunities in schools and communities.
Cris Ubermann and Yukita Kusunoki, creators of "Journey to Mt. Fuji," are among the founding members of MAI and have been vocal supporters of the arts in education movement. "MozzArt" is a word coined by Kusunoki, who he says got the inspiration for it while watching French film artist Ubermann working with local child actors on a location shoot of their new film in Yokohama, Japan.
"To see him getting such innocent and effective performances, especially from those child actors with little to no experience in acting or any other art forms, was a revelation," Kusunoki says. "I felt those kids had endless potential. I thought of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s youthful education and the importance of children growing up in environments that allow them to discover their individual talents and excel. The word ‘MozzArt’ came quite naturally."
In the spring of 2013, MAI launched a new program called "Savin' Mozz!" Participants in the program are engaged in various volunteer activities, such as fundraisers, cleaning streets, distributing fliers, plus gaining experience modeling for and making appearances in promotional materials for the program.
Part of the proceeds from these program activities are to be dedicated to the team’s first wide scale practical educational project: a planned animation series featuring Mozzman and other characters from "Journey to Mt. Fuji," in which there will be opportunities for talented young students, emphasizing students from lower-income families and children and adults with physical disabilities, and plots that encourage development of individual potential.
"The goal is to provide the participants with real-world experience and create a product that will encourage others to support arts education and educational opportunities," says Kusunoki, who stated that the recent official registration of Mt. Fuji as the new UNESCO World Heritage site has strengthened his determination to "upgrade" MAI in the future, which is still being operated as a volunteer group. As of March 2014, MAI has not been registered as an NPO.
"Among other things, 'Journey to Mt. Fuji' is about communication and friendship between those often ignored in what is called mainstream media," says Kusunoki. "As an audience member, I'm interested in stories about them. As a filmmaker, I think it's our responsibility to make those stories and tell them through their personal performances as well as through the product."
"Journey to Mt. Fuji" features characters with physical disabilities including muteness and blindness, and Mozzman’s journey into animation will continue to involve his growth as he faces various personal challenges while helping others.
About Mozzman Wearables
There have been many inquires about the Mozzman wearables. Unfortunately, there are only those that are made specifically for the aforementioned "Savin' Mozz!" program, and those were not originally intended for sale. However, thanks to the efforts of hardworking MAI supporters, some of them have been made available for sale on this website.
These online sales form part of the MAI fundraising program, and part of the proceeds will be pooled as a marketing budget for "Journey to Mt. Fuji," which furthers MAI’s primary artistic goals of making arts education available to children around the world, and providing, through the planned animated Mozzman series, opportunities for talented young people to pursue their careers, including voice actors, composers, and other behind-the-camera professionals.
As of May 2014, with the film not yet being premiered, these items are not available anywhere else.