Art is so much more than a form of entertainment — it's an essential, capable of sparking movements and changing lives. It can also be an effective therapeutic tool for channeling difficult emotions into something palpable and positive. Art Start recognizes this power and has been using it to help young, at risk individuals for over 20 years.
Founded in 1991, it has since become nationally recognized for its many different programs that bring art to impoverished kids in the city. The programs span from choreography, to painting, to song writing and teach students how to channel their hardships into something creative. By partnering with city-run and non-profit shelters, they are able to offer these artistic immersions regardless of anyone's ability to travel — the classes come to them. All homeless children ages five through 21 can take part and they even have a Youth Offenders for kids with open court cases. They serve as a safe space, an escape and a vehicle for discovering life-long passions.
They also help turn talents into creative careers through their Emerging Artists program, which offers internships, creative coursework and mentorship for gifted individuals who want to professionalize their passions.
All these resources operate with the help volunteers — in fact Art Start has leveraged over 11,000 volunteer artists over 20 years. Plenty of committed and creative people are needed to make their Homeless Youth Outreach program happen, but they have applicants aplenty. Some of the most influential names in the art world have been involved, and many prior Art Start students return when they're older to help out. It's a wonderfully rewarding way to give your time to those in need, and volunteer application details can be found on their website.
In terms of 2017 ventures, Art Start has plenty in store, including a continuation of their Portrait Project. It utilizes some of the world's most noted photographers to bring homeless and court-involved teens' artistic expressions to life. They get to interpret their future without boundaries and showcase their point of view through impactful photographs. Photos from past series are available for a traveling exhibition — an annual fundraiser is also held where they can be admired, along with other student masterpieces.
Art in undeniably important, but it is also a luxury to many. Making art my seem like a simple enough concept, but for those who are in marginalized situations, it can be an escape, a therapy and a haven from adversity. Bringing artistic tools to more people is a nobel cause and this nonprofit does it excellently. For more info on Art Start and their many programs, check out their website.